Disappearance of humanity

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Disappearance of humanity

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When I first came to Korea nine years ago, I felt like I arrived in a future community. With one transit card, I could not only use all transportation options but also pay at convenience stores. I could create my web page, share photos and communicate with friends, and order pizza online. In Italy, you still need to go to the ticket booth to buy mass transit tickets.

In nine years, Europe has attained considerable progress in information technology, but the usage is still not as wide as Korea or Japan. I have become an active user and gotten so accustomed to Korea’s IT society that I now feel frustrated when I am in Europe. Last week, I had a chance to travel to China. At Incheon International Airport, I tried the automated check-in system. In only two minutes, I checked in and had a boarding pass. At the immigration desk, I swiped my passport, scanned fingerprints and was done, thanks to automated immigration entry registration.

When I arrived in China, I stopped by a capsule coffee shop, bought a capsule with a credit card and made myself a good cup of coffee. As I walked out, the taxi I had reserved with a smartphone was waiting.

In the taxi, I thought about the functions and effects of technologies, and I had a few concerns. Automation has made life more convenient, but there are certain adverse effects. First, my options have become narrower. For example, when I use a delivery application to order food, it feeds the information of restaurants that the search algorithm has picked. I searched travel information with an application and is directed to visit places that other people favored, without any adventure or risk. While I am less likely to fail, the pleasure of exploring and selecting options has diminished, and the anticipation for my choice has decreased.

I felt the same way about driving. In the past, I used to drive around Italy or Seoul without navigation. Sometimes, I got lost, but I could remember the routes that I’d visited. But nowadays, I habitually turn on the navigation even when I go to familiar places. I feel like I am getting less smart.

A greater problem is that contact with real people is decreasing. I miss the warm interaction of chatting with strangers in stores. The process of buying and selling goods can be effective through machines or IT technologies. But social issues cannot be resolved with algorithms or data. In the modern society, the two people farthest apart may be those who are next to each other but are looking at their own smartphones.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 10, Page 32


*The author is a TV personality who appears on the JTBC talk show “Non-Summit.”

ALBERTO MONDI

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