Cursed with an awareness of the self, and therefore an awareness of need, homo sapiens is the only known species to have reached beyond the bodily vessel for survival. Despite the creation of technology that has progressed us beyond the limits of the primordial world, there has always remained a separation between technology and the individual. Technology functions merely as a tool, failing to mitigate the inherent cognitive dissonance derived from perceived existence. As a treatment of symptom, technology followed a path of distraction in an effort to quell the existential nausea of humanity. It is difficult to imagine an iteration on the extension-type device beyond the smartphone as it provides access to every form of entertainment technology in the arsenal of distraction. With no end in sight for our collective existential strife, the next logical step in human evolution is not further extension but rather integration.
The previously addressed fusion of the digital and the physical is the optimal path to move beyond our current state of affairs. In order to reshape and evolve our relationship to technology, we must prepare ourselves for the adoption of a new breed of device–one that dissolves the object understanding of technology and becomes one with us.
Let us suppose that instead of the portal for connection that must be held afield, we used a mechanism whose function was so instinctual that its presence was nearly imperceptible. A simple proposition would be a piece of wearable technology that could augment one's potential function by providing immediate information overlaid upon a physical world. This ‘augmented reality’ may achieve a higher rate of success than a wholly virtual reality by nature of maintaining some connection to the physical. Though it has great potential in progress, its transformative nature makes it equally dangerous. By examining the pros and cons of today’s device of choice, we observe that the positive uses of technology are rooted in discovery while the toxic, more ubiquitous, aspects are those rooted in distraction.
It is natural to wonder why augmented reality should function any differently than its predecessors–after all, the mind can only interpret new ideas based on what it already knows. In truth, augmented reality is a prime candidate for the role of distraction. Via aesthetic augmentation, of the self or of the home, it could easily remove oneself from the world before them by instituting an all encompassing facade. If instead we choose to implement it as a revelatory mechanism it would force us to confront our physical reality in a way that is avoidable with contemporary technology. By eliminating the detachment of reality from the device and forcing simultaneous experience of the digital and the physical, augmented reality could in fact create a baseline association between the two, thus fusing them. In removing said detachment, the awareness of the self supersedes the awareness of the device’s presence and renders distraction a remnant of the past.
Evolution by natural selection, an imperceptibly slow process, yields unbelievable results but we are no longer limited by its slow churn. With our ability to manipulate our environment we began to extend our bodies, further evolving humanity. As we reach a point of singularity with regards to extension, we must find a new way to continue our auto-evolution. We alone can recognize our ailments, and we alone have the power to resolve them. The old ways of innovation will begin to ossify and disintegrate as we approach a holistic future.