Nobody will find Matt Haig (Sheffield, United Kingdom, 1975) under the label of technology guru. His life has rather been linked to a social taboo such as suicide. With 24 years, one last step back before daring to jump into the void from a cliff in Ibiza he threw down his intention to turn off the button of his existence. This experience was his leitmotiv to write Reasons to continue living (Seix Barral). His daily life, invaded by depression and anxiety attacks, has led him to enter and criticize this hyperconnected modern world in Notes on a stressed planet (Destination). "Social networks are like a bar at three in the morning when your friends have already gone home," he says in this book.
Social networks are dangerous when we expect them to be more than they really are
Part of his fiercest criticisms, precisely, are aimed at social networks. Some networks that he chose to disengage because they generated anxiety and attention for almost 24 hours. “I have spent a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and have come to the conclusion that they are not good at all. They are not good for our policies or for our psychology, ”he says. Although it includes all the nets in the same bag, its warning darts do not throw them equally. With Twitter, for example, he tensed and pissed off with some ease. On Instagram, on the other hand, his life acquired another meaning, and not very positive: “It made me feel that I was inferior, even with the versions I published of myself”.
Haig –attention spoiler– It provides some clue on how to contextualize the almighty social networks. A digital blackout may be an option, although in your case it was insufficient. The key was found in the transcendence we give them. “They are dangerous when we expect them to be more than they really are. When you open them and imagine that the photographs represent real life, ”he argues. In an environment full of likes, retweets and mobile phones – the Spaniards spend an average of six hours a day to be online, according to a Hootsuite report – it seems complicated to avoid so much hyperconnection. "It is a strange paradox that loneliness is at its highest point in the most connected moment in the history of mankind," suggests Haig.
The concerns that the British writer addresses in his latest book not only remain in social networks or the ability they have to misinform. Artificial intelligence also has a gap between its pages. As he says, it is logical to fear the development so fast that it has taken over this technology. "If we continue with unbridled and uncontrolled progress, there will come a point where it will evolve by itself and the line of progress will suddenly not be shaped by humans," he warns. It touches the dystopia, if not the catastrophism. Even he pampers his speech as "scary."
- Robots that create their own robots
In full provocation, Haig continues with examples that more than one – like Elon Musk – would sound like glory in his ears. He proposes that we imagine a scenario in which we program a robot with artificial intelligence to combat climate change. And what decisions do you make? The robot decides that the best way to stop it is to replicate itself and annihilate humans. "It may seem like an unlikely scenario, but we must think carefully where we want to go and take human error into account," he concludes while asking that issues such as cyberbullying be taken very seriously. trolls, addiction and public health.
We not only need to innovate, but to understand our innovations
After the pull of ears to politicians as well as to society as a whole, there is also ammunition against the great technology. In their opinion, they hold too much power. The cause he wields is an element as trivial as speed: “Two decades ago, Google was barely used; and 10 years ago, Instagram didn't even exist. Now it has one billion monthly users. It has been difficult to keep track of it because regulation is slow and technological innovation is fast. ” Not to leave the reflection simply here, delves into the economic repercussions of this digital transformation. He fears that unemployment will be triggered by the replacement of human capital to the detriment of new solutions. "These companies employ relatively few people despite the multimillion dollar wealth they generate," he laments.
Before concluding, Haig leaves a final note about how he conceives that the future that awaits us must be. He focuses his arguments on that slowness to which he alluded. A slowness that has resulted in lack of reflexes to respond to the effects of technological progress. "I hope that in the next few years our mental health will be taken more seriously and that companies will be responsible for their services," he adds. But he doesn't want to say goodbye without looking back a little in history. He puts on the table a classic and monstrous example at the same time, the lesson that Mary Shelley left with Dr. Frankestein's story: "We not only need to innovate, but to understand our innovations."
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