The Apple Watch looks good – too good, actually: distractions + outsourced thinking spells digital obesity

Update: read this very much related Guardian article on why multi-tasking and constant task-switching is bad for our brains.

So I looked at those cool new Apple watches and those enthusiastic Apple keynote videos, and I have to say that I am very tempted twatch-dmo get this watch as soon as it comes out. The buzz! The convenience! The design! The ease of use! The interface! The uninhibited flow of information!  Not having to pull out my iPhone to check on Twitter updates, or find out where my Uber driver is, or to look at Google maps on my iPhone while I am walking.  Sensational (order-now button looming large in front of me)! My life will be so much better with an Apple Watch. Clearly.

But wait a minute (switching from default gadget-loving and Apple-adoration mode).

After some reflection, it seems to me that the Apple Watch is also the perfect embodiment of some recent not-so-good societal developments that are caused by exponential technological progress (and their potentially quite harmful – even if unintended – consequences) such as:

  1. The outsourcing of ‘thinking’ to intelligent software, the ‘smart cloud’ and mobile digital assistants (e.g. Google Maps: “Look to the right: your destination is in front of you’)
  2. The outsourcing of human (personal) judgements to online peer platforms (e.g. Tripadvisor: “This restaurant is rated #1 in your current location” – never mind that no local punter in their right mind would ever set foot in it, and that all the 5* reviews are from tourists that have just come in on Ryan Air and simply followed the inflight magazine’s recommendations)
  3. The appification (i.e. substitution) of human conversations, interactions and decisions (e.g.  PeopleKeeper, pplkpr which offers to monitor your anxieties when communicating with ‘friends’ and then offers to delete the ‘bad’ connections)bad for brain guardian aaeace76-cd7c-4ea3-b300-98fd6c11768b-2060x1488
  4. A serious overdose.temptation for those of us that already suffer from various technology-induced attention deficit disorders (“Let me just retweet this links, quickly – it only takes a second on my new Apple Watch”)
  5. The constant mental overload caused by a tidal wave of incoming signals and information, leading to digital fatness or even a kind of ‘digital obesity‘ that could severely cripple our creativity, and reduce our overall quality of life (in fact, this kind of ‘digital Viagra’ might eventually make us…impotent). The idea of ‘being in the moment‘ could become a thing of the past, entirely – or at least become much harder to achieve. Is a life without any boredom, without empty spaces, actually a good thing?
  6. Yet another step towards perfect surveillance: talk about deep tracking!  The iphone (and the omnipresent Google) already does a pretty good job counting our steps and movements, but the new Apple Watch could easily measure my body’s vitals and / or connect with devices that do. Imagine all that data, 100s of Millions of users, 24/7 – who could resist to NOT use this for either hyper-marketing or surveillance?

I think we all know where this is going:

External brains: in your hands (mobile devices) > on your body (watches, eyeglasses, visors etc) > on your face or  your eyes (connected contact or corneal lenses) > in your body (implants, nano-bots, plug-ins, body hacking)

Digital transformation bottom lines gerd leonhard futurist speaker wide.023

So let me ask you some simple questions: do you really want to enter into this race for human augmentation? Do you really think that acquiring some  ‘super-human’ capabilities is the ticket to happiness? Are you really willing to sacrifice your privacy and your personal data for the charming conveniences of a hyper-connected life?

Last but not least, let’s make no mistake about it: keeping us ‘fat’ and even digitally obese, making us utterly dependent on electronic devices and cleverly orchestrating our addiction to a constant tide of digital signals that get our endorphins going, is a giant business, and the stakes are high (see below).

But will this further human happiness? I’m pretty certain that it won’t (unlike real watches, by the way). You decide. On my end, it’ll be tough to resist but I won’t get an Apple Watch, that much is certain.

statistic_id296565_projected-wearables-unit-shipments-worldwide-2014-and-2018

Watch this related video by Doug Hindson called Dis/Connected

And watch my take on Jibo ‘the world’s first family robot’

 

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