A third of experts predict digital life will be mostly harmful to individuals in the next decade. Many are more hopeful, but the vast majority of experts agree measures should be taken to improve people’s ties to technology.
More helped than harmed
CONNECTION: Digital life links people to people, knowledge, education and entertainment anywhere globally at any time in a nearly frictionless manner.
COMMERCE, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY: Digital life revolutionizes civic, business, consumer and personal logistics, opening up a world of opportunity and options.
CRUCIAL INTELLIGENCE: Digital life is essential to tapping into an ever-widening array of health, safety, and science resources, tools and services in real time.
CONTENTMENT: Digital life empowers people to improve, advance or reinvent their lives, allowing them to self-actualize, meet soulmates and make a difference.
CONTINUATION TOWARD QUALITY: Emerging tools will continue to expand the quality and focus of digital life; the big-picture results will continue to be a plus overall for humanity.
More harmed than helped
DIGITAL DEFICITS: People’s cognitive capabilities will be challenged in multiple ways, including their capacity for analytical thinking, memory, focus, creativity and mental resilience.
DIGITAL ADDICTION: Internet businesses are organized around dopamine-dosing tools designed to hook the public.
DIGITAL DISTRUST/DIVISIVENESS: Personal agency will be reduced and emotions such as shock, fear, indignation and outrage will be further weaponized online, driving divisions and doubts.
DIGITAL DURESS: Information overload + declines in trust and face-to-face skills + poor interface design = rises in stress, anxiety, depression, inactivity and sleeplessness.
DIGITAL DANGERS: The structure of the internet and pace of digital change invite ever-evolving threats to human interaction, security, democracy, jobs, privacy and more.
REIMAGINE SYSTEMS: Societies can revise both tech arrangements and the structure of human institutions, – including their composition, design, goals and processes.
REINVENT TECH: Things can change by reconfiguring hardware and software to improve their human-centered performance and by exploiting tools like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).
REGULATE: Governments and/or industries should create reforms through agreement on standards, guidelines, codes of conduct, and passage of laws and rules.
REDESIGN MEDIA LITERACY: Formally educate people of all ages about the impacts of digital life on well-being and the way tech systems function, as well as encourage appropriate, healthy uses.
RECALIBRATE EXPECTATIONS: Human-technology coevolution comes at a price; digital life in the 2000s is no different. People must gradually evolve and adjust to these changes.
FATED TO FAIL: A share of respondents say all this may help somewhat, but – mostly due to human nature – it is unlikely that these responses will be effective enough.