Home Personal Psychology Cognitive The Psychology of Technology Embedment in Humans: Opportunities, Threats and Preventative Measures

The Psychology of Technology Embedment in Humans: Opportunities, Threats and Preventative Measures

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Privacy and Our Exposure as Public Selves

Closely related to the issue of making use of the information we receive about our self is the accessibility of this information to other people. In many ways, we are more “naked” today then we have ever been—since Adam and Eve wandered through their garden. We now enjoy the services of “Alexa” who waits for requests from us to provide information, but we also know that Alexa might be providing our requests and related information to other people and institutions. We own computer-aided television sets that provide us with easy access to many channels of information, but also know (or at least suspect) that this television set is monitoring our own actions at home. And, of course, we are aware of the extensive information being collected by outside agencies from our hand-held devices and computers.

What do we do about this matter – a trade-off between access to information from outside ourself and other people’s access to information from inside our self. This challenge is not just about law and ethics, it is also about what we want to disclose and what we want to keep private. It is about the multiplicity of selves we project onto and into the world (what Kenneth Gergen called our “saturated self’). Who are we and what does this mean for other people in the world with whom we wish to (or must) associate? Do we just create an avatar of ourselves for other people to see in a digital world? Is there such a thing any more as a true and authentic self who is know intimately by a few people (often set as a limit of about 150 people)? There are many psychological challenges associated with this management of the private and public self.

The Merger of Reality and Fantasy

There is the related matter of somehow discerning between reality and image-production (“virtual reality”) and how we integrate the two when we are wandering through the world receiving both kinds of information at the same time.

Young people around the world are already finding it much more interesting to date an avatar (a person who is able to digitally transform themselves). They never have to actually meet their “date”. And what do we do about the building of relationships with a “machine” that knows more about what we want than anyone with whom we are affiliating. As in the movie (“Her”) there might be more to gain from an intimate relationship with a machine than from an intimate relationship with a person. There is a perspective in psychodynamic psychology known as “object relations theory.” This theory might be taking on new relevance as related to the formation of relationships with technological “objects” (rather than real or fantasized people).

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