A recent worldwide study by Havas has shed new light on the extreme effects technology is having on our lives, as one in every five millennials report feeling depressed or unhappy with their physical lives. That's in comparison with the utopianism they create and see online.
This jumps to 33% of millennials in Japan, 36% in India, 39% in America and 41% in the UK.
In China, one-third of women say they prefer the people they portray themselves to be on social media to their true selves, while 40% of U.S millennials state they actually prefer their virtual lives to their real existence.
Considering the sample surveyed was over 12,100 men and women, these iLife report findings could have real ramifications for the youth generations.
As more young people retreat into their virtual worlds, what does this mean for real-world jobs, relationships and how much we care about looking after our physical world?
Some 41% of the iLife study expects Artificial Intelligence (AI) to liberate us from repetitive tasks and give us more time to enjoy life. But if workplace robots present us with more leisure time — and that time is spent within virtual environments — we will ultimately become more lazy and isolated from real-world opportunities.
These fears are shared by 57% of the iLife study, while 55% worry we are going to lose our ability to solve problems on our own, and 44% believe we are going to become less imaginative.
I actually believe we won’t see a significant growth in leisure time as a consequence of intelligent machines taking over our jobs. Instead, AI will create new jobs, not yet imagined.
History has taught us that as technology evolves, we evolve with it. Who could have believed the range of jobs that exist today at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when the majority of people worked solely on the land.
In China, which already has one of the highest concentrations of industrial robots, 53% of people agree that AI will create new jobs rather than lead to unemployment.
In other countries, however, opinion is far more divided: 40% of Americans believe AI will take away jobs, and 47% of French women and 46% of British women concur.
With regards to relationships, 25% of global millennials believe that in the future, we’ll develop deeper feelings towards robots and may even consider becoming romantically involved.
Once the singularity is reached (sometime between 2030 and 2050 I suspect), and machine learning supersedes that of human intelligence, artificial general intelligence, nano-tech, bio-tech and quantum computing will merge humanity with technology both virtually and biologically.
It stands to reason that our relationship with technology will change, although I’m not expecting to see Alexa appear on too many marriage certificates under the bride’s name. (Amazon’s virtual personal assistant may end-up as a witness to a few future marriages.)
One of the key fears expressed by respondents to the Havas survey was that the perfection of robots will cause us to lose our ability to accept imperfections in people — a concern shared by one-third of all respondents.
I hope, however, that the perfection of robots will let us lose our ability to accept the negative impact that humans are having on our environment, so that we may embrace our technological future as a chance to solve some of the world’s problems.
Only by using technology to create a better, more meaningful world, will we reverse the need and desire to retreat into virtual existences.
As I witness the evolution of robotics firsthand this January when I travel to CES in Las Vegas, I’m hoping to see evidence of creative solutions that will ultimately pave the way for a more meaningful society in which humans and robots can coexist.