Can Digital Technologies Make Us Better Humans?

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Much of the hesitation we see around embracing digital technologies in our workplaces, homes, vehicles, social lives, etc. stem from the fear that artificial intelligence and its digital siblings will ultimately automate away human purpose — it will take away our jobs, our agency, and even our need to communicate with one another. At Quantified, we look at it differently.

Our goal — and our perspective on AI — is not about automating people but enhancing them. So one of the questions we ask ourselves is how technology can help us enhance our impact and elevate humanity — at work, in relationships, in greater society, on the environment. How can fully embracing the digital age enable us to improve the way we interact with each other and with our broader communities, ultimately establishing greater understanding and equity among humans?

What Does It Mean to Be a Better Human?

This is, of course, one of the most subjective questions we could possibly ask. But here are a few ideas the Quantified team came up with — along with a look at how technology helps us achieve these goals.

Giving Back to Our Communities

While we don’t all have the means to establish foundations or give five- and six-figure donations to our favorite charities, we can all contribute to society in some way, whether by donating money, giving of our time, or sharing our talents. And in many ways, technology has made it easier to give back by connecting those in need with those who can help. From crowdfunding platforms to the Buy Nothing Project to Amazon Smile, it’s easier than ever to connect with and support folks who could benefit from our time, talents, or treasure, giving where and how we can in order to support our communities.

We saw the power of technology to drive giving blossom during the pandemic as people all over the world leveraged technology to contribute what they could to protect their communities. Sewing experts began making masks that they sold (or gave away) online; businesses built online ordering platforms and contact-free systems in record time to ensure they could continue to provide their customers with essential goods (and fun stuff, too) while keeping them safe; STEM classes like this one in New Jersey developed platforms to help healthcare providers and other frontline workers connect with people and organizations that could provide them much-needed PPE. In a moment when our very survival depended on a delicate balance between staying apart and working together, technology made it possible to give what we could, where we could in order to keep our communities safe and thriving.

Improving the Lives of Others

Giving back to the community also involves working to improve the lives of those around us on a broader scale. In psychology, the term for this is “generativity” – a focus on making the world a better place for future generations. For example, by ensuring everyone has equal access to education, to housing opportunities, to physical and mental health services, etc. Here again, technology plays a powerful role in enabling us to work toward these lofty goals. While, traditionally, these efforts were more or less limited to high-dollar fundraising, technology allows us to establish systems that make it easier (and more affordable) for folks to access the resources they need.

Countless educational technologies — from Google Translate to Kahoot to FlipGrid and more — enable educators to personalize learning based on students’ unique needs (whether they’re in the classroom or learning remotely), and organizations like Khan Academy, along with open courses from top-tier universities across the country, aim to make learning available to anyone, anywhere. Apps like TalkSpace or Ginger take the geographic barriers — and much of the cost — out of mental health care, while telemedicine makes doctor visits more accessible to a much broader swath of the population. The more we can use our resources to invest in these systems that open doors for those around us — by supporting them financially, by building them ourselves, by educating the population on their benefits, or by simply spreading the word — the greater impact we can have on society as a whole.

Minimizing Your Environmental Impact

The way we see it, part of being a good human on Earth is doing our part to ensure the Earth can continue hosting future generations of humans. This means recycling, composting, and turning off lights when we leave the room, but with the help of technology, it can mean so much more than that.

For individuals, it can mean taking advantage of app-based rideshare, bikeshare, and public transit systems. It can mean installing a smart thermostat to optimize energy use in our homes or using those same Buy Nothing groups to ensure items we no longer use don’t end up in the landfill.

For businesses, it can mean reducing carbon emissions by allowing employees to work remotely with the support of Zoom, Teams, Slack, and dozens of other remote work platforms — keeping cars off the road and energy use down in large office buildings. It can mean leveraging digital inventory systems to enable just-in-time production on goods and promotional materials, minimizing both waste and energy-guzzling storage space. And the list goes on. By relying on technology, we can reduce our environmental impact (and improve the way we live and work in the process).

Being Dedicated to Learning & Growth

Finally, we believe a dedication to personal development is critical to being — and becoming — a better person. Whether we’re optimizing our health in order to live better, developing new skills to achieve more at work or at home, or working toward understanding new perspectives in order to close gaps in our communities, dedication to constant improvement is a powerful characteristic.

Technology helps with this endeavor, too, from wearables that help us monitor and improve our health to online courses, virtual learning experiences, and AI-supported behavior tracking. These technologies connect us with opportunities we might not otherwise have and unlock data and insights that have the power to support real, lasting growth and change — helping us in our quests to become better humans.

The Foundation of All of These Efforts Is Human Connection

The way we see it, the common denominator in all of these goals is human connection. Whether artificial intelligence and digital technologies are making human connection possible in the first place — as they do through social media, remote collaboration tools, etc. — or improving the way we connect with one another, when used responsibly, these innovations play a powerful role in helping us become better humans simply by becoming closer to one another.

At Quantified, our obsession is with improving the way we connect with one another, using behavioral science and AI-driven analysis to measure, monitor, and improve the way we communicate — both verbally and nonverbally — in the service of our personal and professional goals. Our not-for-profit Quantified for Good program aims to make our advanced AI and behavioral science available to everyone, supporting underrepresented and underserved communities to elevate their voices. After all, whether we want to influence others, create more inclusive environments that make everyone’s voices heard, or collaborate remotely to solve problems and accomplish goals, communication and human connection are at the heart of everything we do.  AI has the power to dramatically enhance those interactions, helping us listen and speak to one another in a way that bridges the gaps among humans, brings us closer together, and, ultimately, makes the world a better place.