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Tug Life II, Day 1: “Digital has made us mental”

by Eve Tyler | 10.05.2016
In case you weren’t able to make it to our first session of Tug Life II, here are some key highlights:

Technology that ignores our humanity threatens our creativity and health, according to speakers at the debut session of Tug Life II this morning.

Pete Trainor of human-centred design company Nexus warned that “digital technology has made us all a bit crazy”. He urged brands and developers to build technology that takes account of our humanity and leads us offline, pinning rising rates of distraction, narcissism and isolation to our digital immersion.

Trainor warned that too many linear digital tasks, as opposed to non-linear, problem-solving ones, have been proven to shrink the hippocampus – the section of our brain that governs memory and emotions.

“If we think about all these effects digital is having on people, we can start designing a slightly different world, and then maybe we can create a slightly happier world,” said Trainor.

Phil Dobson of brain-training consultancy BrainWorkshops agreed that digital multi-tasking – along with poor sleep and other bad modern habits – may be damaging our brains in the long term.

“If there’s a behaviour you do that is correlated with a reduction in the amount of grey cells, you might want to modify that.” said Dobson of dual-screening.

Sophie Deen, CEO of Bright Little Labs, a social enterprise creating ethical educational materials, advised us to correct our notion that all the world’s information is online.

“55% of the world don’t have access to the internet at all, so there’s a massive world out there that’s not connected, and their stories aren’t being told,” Deen said.

With children becoming incredibly tech-literate from a young age, it is all the more important to ensure the information and role models they find online are representative and meaningful, she argued.

“We need to teach children how to create technology, not just be passive consumers of it,” said Deen.

Showcasing new Microsoft technology including Skype’s real-time translation software and an AI app for the blind, Microsoft’s James Murray focused on the tension between people and machines, and called for a new attitude.

“We need to make machines our colleagues and our friends, rather than something we go up against in an us-or-them situation,” said Murray.

Stay tuned for more Tug Life II updates – coming soon!