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How much is left of us if we increasingly delegate more and more decisions to technology?

It has been said and repeated that technology is neither good nor bad, but it depends on how it is used. In fact, although repeated again and again, the only thing that this idea achieves is to hide the essence of technology behind a utilitarian approach: if the results are good, then the technology is good, confusing two meanings of "good" in the same sentence.

Furthermore, too often technology is understood only as technological machines and artifacts, but technology itself is no such artifacts, in the same way that a tree in itself is not a forest. And technology is not the collection of all those artifacts, in the same way that a set of trees is not a forest.

Obviously, this is neither the time nor the place to try to define what technology is. Such a task far exceeds the limited aspirations of this column and further exceeds our limited ability to think and perceive technology beyond its manifestations.

We will only say, then, that technology is a way of thinking, more specifically, that way of thinking that serves as a foundation and fertile ground for the creation of technological artifacts. And one of the elements of that way of thinking is to delegate to technology activities and tasks that until not long ago were reserved only for human beings.

In that context, the advent of smartphones, smart homes and the Internet of Things means that elements and artifacts that were previously separate from each other are now interconnected and, as a consequence, one can regulate them. For example, an app on the smartphone can be used to regulate the temperature of the house. 

But new technology goes far beyond allowing us to adjust our environment. Smart thermostats, for example, learn to anticipate the needs and desires of a home's residents and, as a result, automatically adjust the home's temperature based on whether or not the owners are there and based on the time of day.

Simultaneously, smart refrigerators detect, for example, that more milk needs to be purchased and, if programmed to do so, the refrigerator will buy the milk. But that same fridge can also determine if the persons in question are eating foods or ingredients that, for their health, they should not eat. And the refrigerator can contact the doctor.

In short, we no longer have to worry about the temperature of the house because the thermostat takes care of that or the food that has to be bought, because the refrigerator takes care of that. At the same time, Google makes sure that we think we are wise because there we find the information we were looking for. And Facebook makes us believe that we have many friends.

The key point is that, intentionally or not, we have delegated so much in technology and so much more we continue to delegate that in no time we will not even have to think. Since we think the future (Enrique Santin), we won’t have a future. 

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