Technological innovations of today and of the future

  • Awareness
  • 23/11/2016
  • Noelia, Youth moderator

This week, 19 youth panellists from across Europe are meeting in Luxembourg at the European Youth Panel (YEP). This annual event precedes the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2016, where the participating youth also input to high-level discussions with multiple stakeholders on creating a better internet. Here, one of the youth moderators of YEP, Noelia, provides her views on the technological innovations of today and of the future.

"Technological innovations are happening right now. There is always something new to achieve, something better, smarter, easier. It happens so frequently that we have even grown used to it. There is little, if anything, that can make us hold our breath nowadays. Few innovations are capable of defying our expectations of the technology we rejoice in every single day.
"First and foremost, I have to say that when it comes to me, I would say I have a more traditional view on the subject. This usually surprises many, because it is expected that young generations are so used to technology that they don't have a problem embracing it. And they are right; the younger generations do tend to grow up expecting more and more advanced technology to meet their new demands. Indeed, it has come to a time when technology is no longer considered a luxury, but a need. Schools are beginning to reject hand-written essays and universities post every test and essential information on their courses online. Sometimes one can only wonder how is it that older generations could live without the internet and all the handy technology that allows us to live more comfortable lives. However, within the younger generations there are many subdivisions: it is illogical to think that young person born in the noughties behave and have similar attitudes to even-younger generations.
"I consider myself to be part of what I call the ‘nostalgic generation'. I came up with this concept to reflect how we are a borderline generation. We have experienced both the noughties yet also the new boom in social media. We were initially the ones which were first targeted by big brands such as Instagram, Twitter, and so on. The term nostalgic arises from the fact that we are one of the few generations that have an attitude towards technology that can be classified within the middle of a spectrum: neither black nor white, but more a combination of both together. We are the consumers of social media, the binge watchers of Netflix, the influencers and YouTubers that are currently taking over. Yet we also feel uncomfortable with the idea of being stuck in a virtual life. We are also a generation that has lived without technology and therefore recognise, almost subconsciously, how much potential it has to ruin life as we know it.
"What do I mean by ‘ruining' our life? It sounds cynical and it is really. It refers to the idea that the new technologies can have the power to numb us, to take over our reality and give us a hiding place when we're afraid of confronting real life. Social media is being revised nowadays by psychologists and sociologists. Isn't it funny how social media is referred to as a connecting device, but only seems to divide us? Perspectives vary, of course, and not everything is bad. Technologies empower us, making us more knowledgeable in many cases, help us stay connected with those who are far away, help us to work faster and more cost-efficiently, save us time and money, and so on. Yes, the world is embarking on a technological era that will potentially alter the way in which we perceive the planet that surrounds us, the way we interact with each other and understand life as a whole.
"On the other hand, when we talk about artificial intelligence (AI) it is hard to argue for it completely: to support it without taking into considerations the possible and most probable consequences it comes with. I believe that every generation will relate to this position. Who wouldn't want to have a robot make their lives easier? Cook? Clean? Do everything we, as humans, don't want to do? However, it is a very controversial topic that makes us wonder whether being able to avoid doing everything we don't want to do is actually beneficial. Many question whether we would lose ourselves in the process of this technological improvement. Would we? There has always been an underlying fear of robots being able to take over, to rebel, and to act out. This, as well as the fear of not knowing how smart these technologies could be, and how much would we owe them in such case. The question is not only moral but also economic. If we have self-sufficient robots that work for us, wouldn't jobs be at risk?
"In conclusion, I am a nostalgic. One that isn't afraid of saying technology isn't everything. Technology shouldn't be everything. Technology should be a tool and not a structure of our lives. I think we should be able to use it to our benefit, to grow and learn from it but not depend on it."
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

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