I can’t get no

Whatever “progress” we’re making otherwise, true intimacy seems to be getting farther and farther away:

The tech-savvy children of modernity clearly have problems relating to the opposite sex, a phenomenon traced in part due to their immersion on social media and access to internet porn. As social media becomes increasingly pervasive, and algorithms more sophisticated, more people appear to be exchanging human contact for that of a machine. According to Amazon, half of the conversations with the company’s smart-home device Alexa are of non-utilitarian nature — groans about life, jokes, existential questions. The Institute for Creative Technologies suggests that people are less scared about self-disclosure when they believe they’re interacting with a virtual person, rather than a real one. “By 2022, it’s possible that your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family,” suggests Annette Zimmermann, research vice-president at the consulting company Gartner.

Am I the only one perturbed by the idea that Amazon is keeping track of these things?

Those who grew up in the shadow of Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb,” or amidst the wanton sexuality of the 1960s and 1970s, now confront an unimaginable future. There may be some good out of these trends — for the environment, reducing abuse of women and the threat of mass unemployment. But in the end the prospect of an ever more sexless, and family free, world seems a grim one, and slightly less than human.

Glenn Reynolds comments:

Well, machines get better every year. People are not showing similar rates of improvement. Indeed, there’s a good argument that the same society that’s giving us better machines is giving us worse people. And Ehrlich’s book was a lie, and an immensely destructive one.

Fortunately for Ehrlich and his assigns and heirs, Americans will always honor prophets of doom, so long as they’re not overtly Christian.


  1. McGehee »

    10 February 2019 · 3:07 pm

    These trends are only detectable among those who use the technology that fosters the trends in question. I don’t know if that’s exactly what “selection bias” means, but there is definitely a skewage going on.

  2. hollyh »

    11 February 2019 · 8:22 am

    I disagree that Ehrlich was wrong. The “Green Revolution” bought us time, but we supposedly will need to double (at least) our food production again by 2050, if our rates keep on as they are. And here’s the other thing….how many more animals must we force into extinction, to make room for our “humanspreading”? It’s not just about how many human mouths we can feed; it’s about how badly we are degrading the planet.

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