In her article Silicon Valley Would Rather Cure Death Than Make Life Worth Living Emily Dreyfuss takes technology’s oligarchs to task over their collective crusade to “cure death.” Not that curing death is a bad thing, but as Dreyfuss points out, it’s not the biggest thing that haunts our society. She asks:
What would it mean to design against despair or isolation or loneliness?
Indeed. Longevity in the hollow of despair and isolation seems a bitter gift. Our society is awash with large cohorts who feel untethered from any nurturing connections. This is especially true among its oldest members. While apps and games can’t restore this cultural breech, the brain power of Silicon Valley is capable of providing technological onramps for anchoring those in need of human contact. If we can put wheels on meals and deliver them to the front door, we can find new ways to mobilize human connections and deliver them to that very same door from the ready made army of volunteers who are clearly overdue to make good on their promise to change the world. I am speaking of course of my generation, the much maligned boomers who are drifting into the last phase of life and ripe for a generativity-based encore. Sadly, the much anticipated promise of their longevity capital remains unmobilized at a time when it is needed the most.
While all the talk of AI, AR, VR is intriguing, there remains a desperate need for NC, nurturing connections, the face to face interactions that are essential to our destiny as human beings. Solve death if you must, but first help to close ranks to mitigate the isolation, despair and loneliness that is existential residue the new normal of modern life…