The bittersweet temptation of technology

We are encountering more applications of artificial intelligence everyday. Peter van der Wel writes about the bittersweet temptation of technology.

The observant newspaper reader is encountering more and more applications of artificial intelligence lately.

Undoubtedly, artificial intelligence will provide us with many benefits, such as better treatments, educational methods, and art. But like with any technology, there is also a dangerous temptation lurking within.

As our environment becomes smarter, we will experience less challenge and become more indifferent to it. Only activities that we really have to work for, such as learning to play the violin, provide engagement. Things that we can quickly buy online and use without much effort are actually ‘worthless’. We easily trade them in for the next ‘toy’.

Imagine if we could overcome death in the future and eradicate almost all diseases. Then the following question arises: what is the value of life if you can live almost infinitely? The prospect of eternal life would paradoxically take away all meaning and value of life. What is the relevance of education, teaching, and punishment?

If we were to live in a world where we could have as many children as we please, what is the value of having a child? Is it possible to live without ever dying? Can you win in a situation where there is nothing to lose? And can you remember everything without losing your own individuality?

Technology offers us many advantages, but it also takes away important aspects of life. It is paradoxical that technology gives us the power to avoid challenges that give meaning to our lives. For example, collecting stamps loses its charm when you can just buy the complete collection. Therefore, I would like to conclude this blog post with a quote from the philosopher Martin Heidegger, which seems to be becoming increasingly relevant nowadays: “We can only fully utilize the potential of technology if we are fully aware of its power and its limits.”

Thanks to technology, we now have access to almost unlimited knowledge and information, but how can we use this to enrich our lives while maintaining our humanity and individuality? Let us all become aware of the power and limits of technological development, as Heidegger called on us to do. This awareness is important for all of us, including teachers, policymakers, politicians, and entrepreneurs.

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