Technology has cultivated a reputation of isolation over the years: There’s the image of the solitary coder working late in the office, the gamer who’s forgotten to get off the couch for 12 straight hours and, more relatably, the millions of people who spend far too much time checking their smartphones rather than being present with those around them.
Some technology has given us a false sense of connection: Social media has encouraged us to hoard friends we’ll never really engage with and covet interactions that are largely meaningless in the form of likes.
Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City who specializes in mood and anxiety disorders, tells me that, from a wellness and psychology perspective, nothing beats what human interaction and connection can provide.
“This has been proven biologically from a human perspective over and over,” Hamlet said. “Back when there were cavemen, they looked out for each other to survive. That hasn’t changed.” She added: “It really only takes one connection to create that feeling of mental health and sanity.”
“While technology is getting better and looking more human and pet-like, we won’t ultimately connect to those things because of the Uncanny Valley,” Hamlet said. “We know something is a little bit off, so that true connection can’t be made. Until robots become indistinguishable from humans in every manner, including speech, mannerisms and affect, there still won’t be a better result than having a human one-on-one connection.”
That limitation leaves some of us with two options: setting aside technology more to reinvest in real world options or doubling down on increasingly life-life cutting-edge tech to fill the void. Based on this year’s CES, many companies are betting we choose the latter.