Do you own a smartphone, or does the smartphone own you?

As everybody these days owns a smartphone that keeps them connected day in and out, there is a nascent need to differentiate. Smartphones have brought internet addiction, increased stress levels, and bad body posture; I believe freeing yourselves from these effects, freeing yourselves from being a “slave” of technologies and virtual social networks will be increasingly sought after as the millennials start ageing. At the same time, you don’t want to be completely cut off.

The problem here is not the smartphone per se, but our increasing dependence on it and the “outsourcing” of our thinking and desires to our smartphone.

Imagine the following scenario:

  • Need to get to a place? Just ask Google Maps, no need to think.

  • Need to decide what and where to eat? Don’t need to think, just use an app that optimises for health/variety/preferences/budget and you don’t even need to leave the house, just it delivered right to your doorstep.

  • Need to think deeply about something? Just “Google” for the right articles for your current mood. No need to waste time thinking.

  • Feeling bored? Just consume a game, song, movie, Reddit/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, etc.

  • Don’t know what to do next week? Have an app that auto-suggests what you can do based on your preferences, your friends' schedules, activities in your city, past user ratings for an event, etc. Taking this further, have an AI virtual assistant that plans your entire year’s activities.

  • Need to date someone? Use an AI virtual assistant (built with the latest in Natural Language Processing and AI technology that optimises for the right words to use, the correct responses, the best times to send a message, the best jokes to be using, the best emotions to elicit) that has already done all the swiping on Tinder/OKCupid and done all the texting conversations to set you up on a date.

When this point in the future arrives, without a smartphone, you would become almost feel like an empty shell (or even suicidal). Your very existence becomes tied in to the smartphone. Your daily whims/desires becomes dependent on the smartphone.

If you were given a life sentence: give up an arm or a leg, or give up the right to own or use a smartphone for life, I think increasingly in time, people would rather give up an arm or a leg than give up a smartphone for life.

The question then becomes: Do you own a smartphone, or does the smartphone own you?

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