Computers: Friends or Culprits?
The term "computer" is changing rapidly. The difference between the first 8-bit creative devices (Commodore 64, Amiga) and the contemporary 64-bit gaming configurations is far greater than the year-span that divides them. Likewise, the leap between the first BBS (Bulletin Board System) and contemporary Internet is huge. To answer this philosophical conundrum we have to observe this evolution jointly.
So, where do we stand? If you are reading this, you are located in:
1. North America (78.6%)
2. Australia and Oceania (67.5%)
3. Europe (61.3%)
4. Latin America (39.5%)
5. Middle East (35.6%)
6. Asia (26.2% - 80% in Japan only)
7. Africa (13.5%)
(Source: World online population by region (December 31st, 2011) by Internet World Stats)
According to Intel, the world's biggest semiconductor chip maker corporation, global internet users' activities include content view (42%), email, e-commerce and search (36%) and social networking (22%).
Remarkably, remote working is not on the list, although both undeveloped countries' workforce and developed countries' employers may benefit greatly from one another. Another aspect: relocating and/or finding a more suitable employee/employer abroad is also missing. A contributing fact may be that global online population accounts to ca 2 billion people or 32.7% of the world population, according to Internet World Stats. Employment and education markets in dire need of help are not included in this global picture. E.g., only 13.5% of the second-most-populous continent - Africa - participates in world online population. The remaining majority is starving, let alone owning a computer.
On the other hand, piracy and profitable gaming industry have never been better off. Only in the US, the number of people playing video games has risen 241% since 2008 (ca 135 million people as of February 2012), according to Digital Trends. Phishing, cyberstalking and identity theft have joined the long list of computer crimes.
The list of computer-related disorders, formerly including computer- and video game addiction, has expanded to add another plague: the disputed Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). IAD supporters link it to depression. Opposition claims it is not a true addiction but a symptom of other existing disorders. And while the two groups are debating, Washington-based Heavensfield Retreat Center has launched a lucrative IAD rehab program reSTART (price: $15,500!).
So, are computers our best friends or our worst enemies? Conclusion at a glance: our best friend keeps us informed (still uncensored), helps us find a suitable remote job or a better one abroad, allows instant messaging with friends worldwide, helps us pay bills avoiding the queues... Our worst enemy lets us steal, spy and choose a preferred virtual reality. Which one we choose is up to us, as always and as with everything.
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