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How We Talk About Technology

How We Talk About Technology

The Power of Words

Language, the incredible tool that unites us and sets us apart, has been the cornerstone of human communication and progress for millennia. From the earliest grunts and gestures to the complex systems of expression we have today, language has defined our ability to work together, share stories, and understand the world around us. In this article, we explore the evolving relationship between our words and technology, reflecting on the insights of digital anthropologist Giles Crouch.

Anthropomorphism to Technomorphism

In our history, we’ve had a knack for anthropomorphizing non-human entities, and technology was no exception. Ships were affectionately referred to as “she,” and large machines earned the nickname “beasts.” This habit of projecting human characteristics onto the inanimate created a sense of detachment, as if these marvels were close but not quite us. But things are changing.

Flipping the Script

Instead of describing technology in human terms, we’re now doing the reverse—describing ourselves using technological language. It’s a remarkable shift. Why does this transformation matter, you may wonder? Well, it’s pivotal because it shapes how we tell stories, navigate our realities, and build connections with the technologies we’ve created.

Cognitive Technologies: The Game Changers

Enter cognitive technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are revolutionizing the way we think and interact with the world. Unlike traditional technologies that primarily enhanced our physical abilities (think cars and hammers), cognitive technologies like AI are amplifying our cognitive capacities.

The Smartphone’s Evolution

Consider the smartphone—an ingenious device that’s seamlessly integrated into our lives. It’s not just a tool; it’s a storyteller, a community builder, and a navigator of both our inner thoughts and the external world. But there’s a catch. Every interaction we have with our phones is closely watched by companies eager to sell us something or influence our behavior. With social media and internet access at our fingertips, our realities are now shaped not only by corporations but also by fellow humans.

1: Why is language important in this context?

Language is more than just words; it’s how we make sense of the world. By shifting our language from anthropomorphism to technomorphism, we’re redefining our relationship with technology. This evolution in language influences our storytelling, culture, and even the development of cognitive technologies like AI

2: How are we projecting machine qualities onto humans?

We’re adopting machine-centric language in our daily lives. Phrases like “multitasking” and “networking for business” were once reserved for computers, but now we apply them to ourselves. This linguistic shift reflects our changing perceptions of self in relation to technology.

3: What’s the impact of this linguistic evolution on our societies?

As we adapt to this new linguistic landscape, we’re also forging new norms and behaviors regarding technology. We’re still figuring out how to narrate the stories that will shape our relationship with technologies such as AI, crypto, blockchain, and data. The way we talk about these concepts will impact how we integrate them into our cultures and societies.