Research at AIIT

Dialog with an Uncertain Future / Excerp (Irregular updates)

The 61st InstallmentDo you live smartly in a smart society?

by Sanggyu Shin,
Assistant Professor, Master Program of Information Systems Architecture

Smart life? Do you live smartly in a smart society?

One hundred and thirty-six years ago, on March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell successfully made the very first phone call in the world. It was the beginning of a new era of telephones.

Then, 26 years later, in 1902, an American inventor, Nathan Stubblefield, built an antenna standing about 36 meters above the ground on his fruit farm. There, he succeeded in developing a system to broadcast and receive the human voice by wireless. You can say he invented the world's first wireless telephone. But in fact, it was similar in size to a manhole cover so I doubt anyone could actually carry it around.

In 2007, 105 years later, the first iPhone was released. Now 136 years have gone by since Bell's invention, and the wireless phone has become a fixture in our lives.

Somewhere along the line, with the advent of wireless phones, such as the iPhone and Android phones, people recently started using the name, smartphone, along with wireless phones.

The greatest difference between telephones and wireless phones is, I believe, the convenience of portability. If that is the case, what would be the significant difference between wireless phones and smartphones?

According to Wikipedia, "a smartphone is a multifunctional mobile phone or a PHS built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and Internet connectivity than a feature phone, which is so-called su-ma-ho in Japanese." Perhaps, the important things here are its computing ability and Internet connectivity.

Portability + Internet + Computer

Those three are the key points. Now, how are these three features changing our lives? What was changed by embracing smartphones into our lives? In fact, did your lives become smarter?

In my opinion, one of the typical changes brought by smartphones is the speed of communication, which does not rely on where you are. This brought about a revolution not only on the part of “wireless phones”, but also with the public at large. By using smartphones, it caused changes in the value of each individual's life until now and changed society itself, leading to exceed a simple societal evolution.

The struggles against tyranny in the Middle East and North Africa were transmitted via Twitter. Twitter helped focus the power of the general public in these countries and supporters around the world to change the structure of politics, meaning that it became possible to broadcast information right then and there to realize the creation of live information.

By adding emotions and time to information, it became possible to create a certain current situation out of simple information. In addition, it even became possible for an individual to enter the region of information creation in real time, which used to be allowed only for a few people (mass media and governments). When a world famous singer died, Twitter transmitted the information 40 minutes before the traditional broadcast media, meaning that various paths have become available where existing sources of information acquisition were limited to certain sectors.

Besides this, people in the United States and South Korea proved that each individual might also make changes in society, where they seemed to have only a little political power, by using SNSs. This might mean the return of a human-led society, thanks to the growing importance of individual power with the advent of a smarter society, where rapid mechanization after the start of industrial revolution in the 18th century caused the decline of human dignity due to component-based mechanization.

I believe it is a sign of a changing society showing a leading approach to each individual, which allows a person to do things with the power of each individual. The time has passed, and it seems that the voice of the individual can no longer stop the voice of another individual, even when it is wrong.

At any rate, people should never be satisfied and believe that the smart life brought about by smartphones is not about browsing the Internet, reading emails, sharing information on SNS sites, and finishing smaller jobs on the train. People can become a producer of information if you take a leading role in participating in society.

However, becoming a producer also means that people have to worry over how to use those smart machines. Although society may become smarter depending on what people produce, it is also possible to turn out to be the opposite. For those reasons, I think people should become smart first. Technology alone is something hard (and that's why they are called hardware). I believe they can become smarter by adding the sensitivity of humans. The most important thing for a real smart life is how you live smarter in this smart society. So, why not make yourself smarter?

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