Manos juntandose, una encima de la otra

February 06, 2023

Keys to technological humanism

Technological humanism is an ideal that aims to focus on the creation of socially responsible technology that does not exploit the user. In other words, it must respect their time, attention and personal data, replacing current advertising-based models with options that are not designed to attract attention.

It is an idea that is becoming increasingly important as different forms of technology are becoming much more important in all spheres of life.

Center for Humane Technology

One of the first major movements to emerge around this vision of technological humanism was the Center for Humane Technology (CHT). Founded in 2013 by former employees of large technology companies who were unhappy with the use and treatment that was being made of user data, this movement was born with the mission of "driving a comprehensive change towards humane technologies that favor collective well-being, democracy and a shared information environment."

According to CHT, there are six key principles for developing human technologies in the future:

  1. Obsession with values, rather than obsessing over engagement metrics.
  2. Reinforce existing brilliance, rather than assuming that more technology is always the answer.
  3. Make the invisible visible, rather than assuming that damages are extreme cases.
  4. Enable sound decision-making, rather than assuming that the more options the better.
  5. Encourage mindfulness, rather than competing for attention.
  6. Link growth with responsibility, rather than just maximizing growth.

Other principles

However, the principles governing technological humanism are more complex and varied. Indeed, according to the CHT itself, we can talk about 8 other key aspects when thinking about this issue

  1. Prioritizing people: the rights and interests of individuals should be privileged over those of companies.
  2. Avoid "atomizing" solutions: as far as possible, social and collective approaches should be prioritized over "atomizing" solutions.
  3. Confronting power: efforts should be made to identify and correct asymmetries and imbalances of power.
  4. Address root causes: go beyond the symptoms to address the root causes of the problem or challenge in question.
  5. Assuming damage: it should be assumed that all technologies and their applications are capable of inflicting a series of damages and try to identify them.
  6. Demand caution: a preventive approach should be employed in the development and deployment of technology.
  7. Accept complexity: the complexity of a problem or challenge should be reflected by proposing comprehensive and contextualized solutions.
  8. Seek sustainability: sustainable and regenerative solutions should be favoured over quick and self-destructive solutions.

This will be the result

When humanism is applied to the very conception of a technology and is kept in mind during all phases of its development and commercialization, the result is a technology that is not only more human, but also more natural. On many occasions, using certain tools means influencing our behaviour. This is something that should be avoided, since it is technology that should adapt to people and not the other way around.

Human technology should not replace the human mind and body, but rather augment existing capabilities. Moreover, this makes the technology as simple and accessible as possible (also in terms of price), so that it can be used by as many people as possible. Therefore, tool designers must be aware of the social and environmental ramifications of new technologies and act accordingly.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that what at one moment we may consider to be a technology developed under the umbrella of humanism, in another situation may seem just the opposite. For example, cell phones can be more humane than landlines because they allow us to move freely to make calls. However, this has also led to many spaces becoming noisier and sometimes the silence or rest of other people is not respected.

While technology will never be totally human or inhuman, special attention should be paid to the keys and principles described here to avoid greater evils and achieve the ultimate goal: that all developments and advances are sustainable, responsible and not exploitative of the individual

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