Just a couple of days ago Hollywood was teetering on the brink of a seemingly imminent collapse and had entered uncharted territory as the actors and writers went on strike for the first time in over six decades, bringing the American show business to a halt.
Among other factors, AI-generated scripts and the use of AI in acting have raised new concerns among actors, as artificial intelligence is perfectly capable of imitating human expressions and mirroring them on screen.
Netflix has recently dropped the sixth season of Black Mirror. The first episode of the science fiction-based series was Joan Is Awful, where a woman named Joan suddenly discovers that every moment of her life is perfectly visualised in a TV drama adaptation of her life – Hollywood A-lister Salma Hayek played that woman's role. Joan becomes desperate to prevent the broadcast of secrets and intimate details of her life.
At one stage, we learn that Salma Hayek was not acting in her role. The streaming platform is using Salma's face and created the character with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Just a month after the release of Black Mirror, Hollywood actors came to the front from behind the scenes and joined the Writers Guild's ongoing strike.
Now, let me remind you of the iconic scene in the movie The Matrix where the choice between the blue and red pill is presented: whether to continue existing in the virtual world or embrace the harsh but vibrant reality. Calling a spade a spade, if you connect all the dots and make the spider's thread, the inevitable question arises: is it the destined future for humanity? Is technology a blessing?
Let me help you shed light on another fact. In Bangladesh, around 15 million people have gone abroad to ensure a better future for themselves and their families. They may have the most say in how technology improves their lives and helps them express their love and emotions for their family members back home. According to Financial Express, 81% of the parents of international migrants use mobile phones, and 65% use mobile phones and instant messaging apps like imo.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, technology has brought them closer than ever to their families. Even though they are physically far apart, the warmth of their familial bonds can still transcend beyond borders and boundaries. Communication apps like imo are allowing them to hear the voices of their loved ones and see their smiling faces, bridging the distance of thousands of miles.
Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked in an interview: a question – if there were concerns that this eyewear (Apple Vision Pro) would further isolate people? Cook humbly expressed his belief that technology would help people connect and communicate better. However, it doesn't entirely eliminate the doubts looming around technology that is gingerly blurring the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds.
In Bangladesh, as the telecommunications network and infrastructure continue to develop and smartphones become more common, the internet becomes increasingly accessible to citizens, turning them into netizens. But the other side of the coin gives you gloomy prognoses about the increasing usage of smartphones.
Research from GWI reveals that the "typical" global internet user spends around 6 hours and 58 minutes per day using the internet across all devices. From increasingly immersive electronic games to rapidly rising short video platforms, all are hunting for users' time and attention, turning your time and attention into profits. However, each person only has 24 hours a day, and the longer you stay in cyberspace, the less time you have to share with friends and family in the real world. Based on this, even a Panglossian might ask whether technology brings us isolation or communication.
The story of humankind has changed its course numerous times, not intrinsically being good or evil but rather depending on what we – humans desire, through invention, creation, and civilisation. Likewise, modern technology does not inevitably lead to isolation; with our reasonable usage, it can also open unprecedented avenues for efficient communication and usher in a new era for us and the generations to come.
The ongoing technological and communication boom has had multifaceted impacts on our lives. It has transcended all geographical boundaries, bringing people closer together with an interconnectedness that was previously unimaginable. As human beings, our nature is to bridge the gaps that separate us from our loved ones and be close to them in any way possible – virtual or in person. Instant messaging platforms are a tangible manifestation of that desire for connection; as long as we still long for real and warm human connections – technology will not inevitably lead us to isolation.
Whether it is about staying in touch with our loved ones, collaborating with colleagues, or engaging in global conversations, instant messaging platforms offer a comprehensive way to communicate and interact with others.
Apps like WhatsApp and imo utilise the power of technology to foster meaningful connections. It is crucial to recognize and appreciate the role of technology in connecting people with friends and family beyond borders. imo, for instance, integrates holistic features such as a high-quality free video call option, creating an international communication platform that is available for everyone, everywhere. The platform also comprises some of the most meaningful security and privacy protection technologies that target all age groups, including even those who are not that technologically equipped.
Blessing or bemusing, isolation or communication? The answer does not lie solely in technology. When an overseas worker picks up their phone and uses imo to make a video call to their family thousands of miles away, telling them they are safe and sharing the ups and downs of their lives, we may say that the human race has ultimately chosen the red pill.
Mir Shahrukh Islam is the managing director of Bondstein Technologies Limited.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.