Aren’t we going too far with technology?

This is not news, or maybe it is, in part. There is a new electronic assistant that “reads” your metabolism and understands through your breath how you should feed yourself. You blow into it, and by analyzing the air in your lungs, it can figure out what you need to feed on. Not only in a general sense but also depending on the activity you have to do: if it’s a rest day, it won’t advise you to insist on carbohydrates, but if you have to work out in a few hours, it will. I guess, I don’t really know. I guessed that it works that way and it does other things as well, so much so that it amazes you, almost like I didn’t think a digital assistant could still amaze you in 2022. I hadn’t really thought about the metabolic analysis, or at least I thought certain things were still the domain of specialized laboratories. And instead: between pulse oximeters, heart rate monitors, analysis of any vital parameter, it is safe to say that labs are now wearing them.

This is good because these tools help us to be much more aware of ourselves and the activity we perform. They give us a measure of something that 10 years ago was much more complicated to calculate or know.
Ten years ago knowing one’s resting heart rate was unusual.
Ten years ago, knowing how many steps we took per day was difficult.
10 years ago measuring one’s running pace was possible but not usual.
10 years ago, there were no lightweight, wearable devices that analyzed sleep and figured out when and under what conditions we could rest best.

This is all beautiful and useful, and I don’t want to say at all that it is not.

Yet

Yet when I saw this new instrument, I was a bit interjected. I do not exclude that my origins have influenced the judgment: that a software should tell an Italian how and what to eat is something unheard of and unacceptable for those who have always been accustomed to eating well. Like all Italians, in short.

But I don’t want to make it a parochial issue: it just isn’t.
What I mean is that I perceived how, for the first time since I have been seeing the industry’s newest gadgets (and I have seen dozens and dozens of them, and several I have tried and used), there was something too much.
It is not even about the object itself – to the inventors of which I wish all (commercial) luck – but about what it represents. Look at it from another point of view: an object tells you how to feed yourself by analyzing your breath and figuring out what deficiencies you have, depending on whether you live a sedentary or active life.
Beautiful. But the question is, how did we end up not even knowing how to feed ourselves and what to eat anymore?

Transfer of responsibility

I have this theory, derived from my frequentation of the photographic world: not everyone who has very expensive cameras is a good photographer, and not everyone who has old, beat-up cameras is a poor photographer. In fact.
What I mean is that, in many areas, there is a transfer of responsibility from ourselves to the tools we use: “I followed the advice of [Assistente Digitale BT27], so I did it right,” as if it were a coach or a nutritionist or, worse, Mom. We have come to the point of no longer relying on machines but trusting machines, and there is a difference.

This may sound like old whining, but I don’t mean to accuse technology. In the first place, I generally do not complain about anything. Secondly, I make extensive use of it and embrace any novelty in that field with enthusiasm. What got me thinking, however, is the suspicion that we are taking a direction that points to trusting and no longer relying. We “trust” in the sense that we rely on something or someone, while we trust when we no longer exercise critical thinking.

Technology should always be a tool and not a judge. In short, it should not replace a knowledge that, concerning ourselves, we should possess. We should know how and what to eat. We should know what is good for us and what is bad for us. We should understand how our body asks us to feed it. It is as if the dialogue between our mind and the wonderful machine that houses it has been interrupted and replaced by … another machine, activated by a CPU.

Awareness

As we often repeat, awareness is not just knowledge but it is a way of life, it is an ethical behavior marked by an existential vision, a purpose that we set out to achieve: to respect our bodies and minds, to make sure that they are fit, that they are well. Underlying it, however, is a knowledge, an understanding of how the mind and body work. Much technology we use provides us with data that must be interpreted (just think of sportswatches) and requires knowledge.

I get the impression that certain new technologies also want to take away the burden of knowing why it is better to eat carbohydrates or protein, not making us more aware of why we are doing it.
I don’t imagine a future where machines will rule us, I’m not that pessimistic. I say that in some cases they are freeing us from the burden of understanding things to put them into the foundation of our awareness.
And we cannot be aware without knowing why things happen, how they happen and why we function in a certain way.

(Main image credits: AndrewLozovyi on DepositPhotos.com)

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