Keen’s “How Our Mobile Phones Became Frankenstein’s Monster”

In Andrew Keen’s CNN article, he discusses how mobilizing, yet immobilizing, mobile phones have become to the human race as both the power of technology and the power of our dependency grows exponentially.

Personally, I believe myself to be a victim of technology, as I am physically unable to leave a room without my iPhone attached to my hand.  I check email, communicate with teachers and peers, contact my family in the northeast, submit homework, use social networking sites, google whatever random topics pop into conversation, and utilize a plethora of other functions of the phone.  This seems great in theory—having communication and information at, literally, the palm of my hand, but how does this affect our human capital?

At the Mobile World Congress, there has been much talk about “personal empowerment” via mobile technology, but Keen believes that this is actually personal disempowerment as we rely more and more on external intelligences.

Primarily, cell phones operate via waves.  This exposes us to radiation that could be causing cancer.  Secondly, our mobile phones act as tracking devices, with bank account information, the ability to “check-in” to locations, and records of emails, conversations, and SMS messages.  For those who thought the information the Internet has about them was scary, imagine what would happen if the records of cell phones records were exploited.  Product’s such as Apple’s Siri are practically indistinguishable from the human brain, as they express facts, emotions, reasoning, and converse accurately in response to how we prompt them to.

Our mobile devices can provide us with audio entertainment, interactive games, videos, and in the case of Google’s Project Glass, they can alter the world around us in a virtual reality.  Keen claims that virtual reality will become so mobile that we will be able to wear it under our skin in the future.  At what point do we merge with technology and become one?  When do we accept that our mobile devices or computers have become extensions of our brains?  How does this affect our brain power?

President Obama presented a “Do Not Track” legislation and the information-collecting practices of major technology companies are being actively investigated.

Keen ends by stating that “All the coercively seductive new products unveiled in Barcelona in the next few days are just phones.  They can’t make us younger, richer, more viral, or more intelligent.  And they certainly don’t empower us.  The real sense of empowerment comes from re-establishing our mastery over our mobile devices.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/28/opinion/mobile-frankenstein-keen/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/mobile-world-congress/2012/

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4 responses to “Keen’s “How Our Mobile Phones Became Frankenstein’s Monster”

  • msingh2

    Good summary of the article! As I was reading it, I was quickly drawn to agree with the points made. It’s evident that today’s digital world can’t survive without technology such as iphones and macs. In fact, after a natural disaster, one of the first things that are fixed are broken power lines to restore electricity. Yet, this immediate access to information can cause major cybersecurity issues. As the article mentions, with information at your fingertips, it becomes easy for hackers to gain access to the information they need. Ultimately, at a global perspective, the rapidly spreading information needs to be secured through further cybersecurity initiatives by the government in order to ensure the country is secure for the future.

  • sophiwaterr

    Are we allowed to blog on required readings? Just curious

  • wstewar

    I think this was a great summary of the article as well. I think it’s interesting how reliant people have become on their cell phones. I have so much information stored in mine. I often joke about how it has “my whole life” or how it is “my best friend” because it tells me just about everything I need to know: the weather, the news, how to contact my friends, upcoming assignments and appointments, etc.

    In this digital world, I think a cellphone is quite necessary. However, on occasion when I don’t have a phone, I kind of enjoy the silence. If I were to go to an area where cell phones weren’t common, I don’t think I’d miss it too much. Of course there would be points of convenience that I would miss. But there are personal elements to a life that is separated from technology.

    I think the importance of cellphones to modern life comes within the context of that modern life. Cellphones themselves are not the entire problem but really just part of an evolving culture of technology and interconnection.

  • rbain1

    I completely relate to both the article and the summary written above. Though cellphones have been great for a variety of different things, including keeping in touch with family, making transactions on line, staying connected to news and email and works, it has also simultaneously created a dependence and distraction that is potentially harmful to our well beings, like my attention span in class, as well as my will to leave the house or socially interact with people. This article is the reason why I make an effort to leave my phone behind when possible, though I do recognize its importance in many mainstream jobs and societal functions, like natural disaster relief.

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