AI (Artificial Intelligence) has grown so much in recent years, it has become embedded in our lives. From the development of the Walkman to the plans for the so-called smart headphones, we have become more reliant on artificial realities for companions. Whereas the Walkman started to block our interactions with other people through distracting our hearing, the looming creation of smart headphones pose a deeper threat to our human connections. Soon, with the potential creation of smart headphones such as the Vinci smart headphone by Inspero Inc, people will be able to use headphones to somewhat replace a human companion. With these headphones, people will be able to ask a Siri-like voice for multiple things, such as directions, music shuffling, and weather predictions. But the most shocking thing these headphones will be able to do is suggest changes to the buyer, such as changing the music to fit the anticipated “tone.”
This addition to our influences will most likely be another negative one. Following along with the negative culture which dually takes away our resolve to rely on critical thinking and places less importance on human connection, reliance on smart headphones will end up leaving people feeling empty and lonely. Unlike other technological advancements which improve manual labor, this advancement in technology will take away the need for people to be alert and think for themselves. In this way, smart headphones will continue the trend of creating the mob culture instead of training people as individuals. Much like how reliance on social media, such as Snapchat and Instagram, greatly persuades people to think the way media want people to think, smart headphones may numb people from recognizing the importance of both their critical thinking skills and human connectivity.
When watching the Kickstart advertisement for these headphones, I was horrifically reminded of the shells (wireless smart headphones) from Fahrenheit 451. In Fahrenheit 451, people are so accustomed to the companionship they receive from the shells that they hardly ever think for themselves or have any deep relationships with others. Only when the main character realizes this and stops using them, is he able to see reality without that outside influence. Now, while we approach a time when our culture will start to become more and more reliant on Artificial Intelligence, it is extremely important to remember the vital lessons from Fahrenheit 451. Namely, that human companionship is unparalleled, and the ability to think independently forms the core of our very own identity.
Although Fahrenheit 451 lays out a society so reliant on AI it seems a bit exaggerated and impossible, it nevertheless challenges us to constantly keep our reliance on AI in check. Humanity will never reach the point where we use only AI for companionship because we are social animals and will recognize the superficiality of AI in the end through our natural impulses to create real and deep relationships with people. But, I think it is very possible for people to rely on AI to an unhealthy extent, despite their real relationships. While in the end, people may just use these headphones as any other headphones due to the apparently great sound quality, knowing the potential dangers of these headphones may prevent people from disappearing into an entirely different world–the Artificial world.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.