«Do Self-Tracking Devices and Platforms Support Utopian or Dystopian Understandings of Technology's Effects on Society?» - Great Essay Sample

«Do Self-Tracking Devices and Platforms Support Utopian or Dystopian Understandings of Technology's Effects on Society?»

Modern science is puzzled by various issues concerning future generations of humans who will be forced to live in a world that has been changed by the present society. It should be noted that scientists study and solve numerous problems related to the possibility of a nuclear war, overpopulation, hunger, climate changes, and other dangerous consequences of the modern community’s activity. Nevertheless, most of these issues have a source of technological development and progress that have affected the climate, the ozone layer of the Earth, the extinction of animals and birds, and other processes. At the same time, some influences of technological advancement have also had a positive impact on the life of humanity as technologies allow people to improve their quality of life, create new products, medicines, equipment, and other things necessary for survival. Through studying these effects, the researchers divided into two groups, namely those who support the theory of utopianism and those who believe that utopia is impossible since the humankind is doomed to destruction because of technical progress. Wherein, a study of this topic shows that the influence of modern gadgets for monitoring activity affects the community development both positively and negatively, which proves that only the accurate and correct use of modern technologies can lead to the development of an ideal society.

On the one hand, dystopian views hold the idea that most modern technologies have many adverse effects on the future of the humankind. In this respect, followers of this opinion singled out four main factors that can worsen the life of humanity due to the application of technologies for tracking. First of all, Millennium Bug is one of the most famous problems that are connected with the development of various applications and devices for assessing achievements (Charlton 2008, p. 1431). In this case, it is important to remember that if most people on the planet start tracking their movements and actions, the amount of information that should be stored on different media can become enormous. Therefore, maintaining the operability of such systems can become impossible or too costly. At the same time, the dystopian theory argues that the use of these technologies will become a pervasive problem that will affect all countries. Currently, most gadgets are already available almost everywhere in the world and can be used regardless of location (Grifantin 2014, p. 14). In this regard, most people can begin to experience a strong sense of fear for their data since they can disappear due to the inability to save them long enough. Thus, it is worth noting that most members of the modern society already buy gadgets and smartphones with the significant amount of memory in case their fitness tracker can require more space to store data. In this way, modern trackers support many assumptions of Millennium Bug’s proponents, which makes it clear that some of their claims may be true.

Furthermore, many people in the modern world confirm the dystopian idea about the insecurity of confidential data in the future. Concurrently, one of the most critical problems concerning the protection of information that have appeared recently is the inability to exclude hacker attacks through various equipment, which is the main argument of the followers of this opinion (Srivastava 2011, p. 570). Currently, most of the devices that people wear to track their movements and activity throughout the day are accessories that can be stolen and used for various purposes. In addition, most of them are easy to assemble, which allows attackers to extract information. Moreover, some hackers can create bots and viruses in order to deceive users and take their data through additional agreements (Lawton 2008). Thus, having received an unofficial application to track activity, a person can provide confidential data about movements to third parties who can use them for their purposes. This situation is similar to the opinion of some researchers that in the future, most people can face a problem when they do not have the opportunity to understand the real person or company they see or not because anonymity and a huge amount of information can erase these opportunities (Casey 2011, p. 425). In this case, computer systems that are programmed to pretend to be the representative of a company or an individual through the application can remain operational even at a time when the creator no longer needs it, which can create additional privacy issues.

According to theorists of dystopia, the development of modern technologies in general and gadgets for tracking in particular is dangerous for the improvement of social interaction between members of the modern community. First of all, it should be noted that with the advancement of conventional technologies, social networks have become one of the most popular types of communication that allowed expanding the limits of the development of human intelligence and capabilities (Lin and Lu 2011, p. 1152). Nevertheless, although some trackers allow people to share the results of their activities, they do not provide them with the possibility to communicate on any topic and share any information. Moreover, since people can follow how much their friends are going somewhere, this reduces their personal communication since all the answers are already received through the application or the site. This can not only reduce the level of communication to the historical minimum but also develop various unhealthy habits and behaviors in people. One of the examples of the social behavior that, in the opinion of many adherents of these views, will be the most common character trait for future people is narcissism (Buffardi and Campbell 2008, p. 1303). Considering the most common functions of modern trackers, the majority of them is not designed for studying and discussing the life and the achievements of friends since the primary functions consist only in tracking the progress of the gadget’s owner. Thus, such accessories allow encouraging the behavior when a person is not interested in the positive and negative features of others as his or her own affairs are more important and exciting.

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Further, it is also crucial to note that most of the modern activity tracking accessories support the development of various mental problems, which also agrees with the opinion of many dystopian followers. Commonly, it is vital to remember that, initially, trackers were created to help a person monitor health and activity and motivate his or her to play sports (Gouveia, Karapanos & Hassenzahl 2015, p. 1306). At the same time, some people perceive these gadgets as another type of game and try to protect their indicators through various cheating methods rather than the real activity. Thus, it is impossible to understand the motivation and the character of a person who uses the tracker since it is unknown how he or she perceives this accessory. Moreover, since many applications for tracking activity are similar to computer games, people can have the same mental dependencies when using. One of the most famous modern examples that prove this fact is the Pokemon Go that was designed to motivate people to walk more in countries where they are forced to drive by car more often (LeBlanc and Chaput 2017, p. 235). Nevertheless, many people did not follow this idea. Instead, they spent a lot of time inside the game that led to car accidents and other dangerous situations. In this way, the dystopian views coincide with the real data about the fact that most trackers affect negatively the mental health of the modern community that can change their behavior, character, and quality of life.

On the other hand, the utopian view supports the idea that the majority of modern technologies has positive effects on the future of the humankind and can become the only way to survive in the nearest time. According to utopians, future generations have the opportunity to access professional medicine of the higher quality due to the fact that they will use tracking gadgets in conjunction with other technologies (Swan 2012, p. 93). Wherein, it is worth noting that most modern trackers are able not only to estimate the number of steps that a person has made during the day but also allow measuring the pulse and enter data on the state of the health and the quality of sleep. It gives unlimited opportunities for studying the human behavior in various conditions of life that could allow researchers to use considerable resources to obtain the results of long-term studies (Fuery 2009, p. 88). Besides, many hospitals are trying to use electronic records and applications to communicate with patients in order to save their data and be able to monitor their condition with no need for a personal meeting. Beside, trackers can allow hospitals to receive the most accurate data in real time in order to provide assistance in the event of a force majeure situation (Schüll 2016, p. 317). These factors show that although many gadget features are not yet disclosed, they are already helping the medical field to approach a utopian image in which doctors can use an unlimited amount of information about the status of patients.

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Additionally, most utopians believe that the absolute majority of people in the future will follow the new norms that will change the quality of life in the society. The utopian literature describes the ideal community of people as friends who are not capable of bad deeds and are happy to help each other to abandon nasty habits and evil (Claeys 2013, p. 40). Even now, most of the trackers are aimed at developing a person's motivation to engage in sports and abandoning bad habits that allow receiving better results. Besides, since gadgets create a community of people who use a single platform for doing some kind of activity, they also create an environment that makes a person obey the rules that are accepted in this society (Neff and Nafus 2016, p. 2). As already described above, trackers can also be used in various institutions to help a person develop new personal norms applying gaming processes in the society. Thus, the habit of tracking productivity in sports can create new social habits of monitoring behavior, visiting a doctor, paying taxes, and performing other actions that may seem confusing without the use of easy-to-understand game processes and progress recording (Turner 2010, p. 124). Moreover, it can also help the humanity to find new designs for solving problems since most of them can be based on statistics and objective data. At present, the study of statistics is a complicated process because it requires skills and knowledge that relate to this science. Nevertheless, if people can become accustomed to studying their statistics daily, this process can change their thinking.

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Although most modern gadgets for tracking activity do not involve the function of communicating with other people, they are able to improve exchanging information between community members due to their functions and features that is one of the assumptions about the development of the utopian world. It is a well-known fact that one of the strongest factors that influence the advancement of innovations is competition since it is a motivating incentive for people and business (Hovenkamp 2012, p. 800). Thus, the sphere of technology development can receive the unique experience of the interaction between a person and a gadget on the basis of trackers in order to create a market for competing devices. Moreover, the desire for competitive activities in a society, that can be dangerous at the moment, can be changed since platforms and applications for tracking activity may become a new kind of ubiquitous competition that helps people to become motivated for self-development. In addition, new forms of friendship can appear in the community based on gadgets that allow tracking various parameters of a person. Subsequently, based on the places visited, activities, hobbies and actions, people will be able to find the most suitable group for communication. Their choice will be based on specific data that will improve the quality of relationships between people. Therefore, when the followers of the utopian theory claim that some gadgets can boost the level of communication between members of the community, they are right since modern accessories are able to help people create close ties.

Lastly, all of the ideas described above are parts of the primary meaning that the utopians try to apply to the image of the future, and it lies in the techno-utopianism. This doctrine shows the fundamental theses and principles that govern the way of technology development that Utopians suppose to happen. Technology allows people to support the four central values of the society, which are communication, teamwork, knowledge sharing, and benefits (Horsfield 2017, p. 5). In this way, platforms and gadgets to track activities coincide with each of these values since, as described above, they strengthen the emergence of new connections among people. Further, the utopian community also supports the idea that technology has a positive effect on both progress and the social sphere of life (Turner 2006, p. 2). It is worth noting that the facts described above show that competition promotes the development of innovations and new methods of interaction between members of the community. According to the statements of this theory’s followers, technology is capable of democratizing the society as they allow people to express their opinion and receive reliable information (Morozov 2011, p. 2). Although trackers cannot give people the opportunity to share their views, many devices can be used for justice, which can become fairer due to objective data that will be collected about human activities and used for defense in court if necessary (Sandy et al. 2015). Thereby, most of the factors that are described by the theory of utopia coincide with the actual use of devices to track activity.

In conclusion, the effects that modern tracking devices have on the current community can be both positive and negative for future generations. Accessories that capture activity are popular now among athletes and people who are trying to have an active lifestyle. Thus, they can become the everyday gadget of each person in the future. However, the most potent adverse effects are the insecurity of data retention and community abandonment of traditional communication methods that can be replaced by researching information in profiles. At the same time, most of the positive influences tracking technology development are associated with the creation of better medicine, the analysis of the most accurate data on humanity, and the spread of new types of communication in the world. Thus, regardless of the development of technology, its goals and effects depend only on what functions and techniques people will use.



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