Bipartite Approaches: Designing and Delivering Technologies for Body and Soul

By on November 19th, 2019 in Entries, Human Impacts, Last Word, Magazine Articles, Societal Impact

If one subscribes to the bipartite view, humans are a composite of two distinct, yet interdependent components: body (soma) and soul (psyche and pneuma) [1]. Our colleagues addressed well the impact of technology on both these material, and immaterial, dimensions of humans in this issue.

Value-based thinking was addressed well. Authors synthesized and consolidated multiple sources into a single extensive collection; our community is now better prepared to address the vast dimensions of human values during system design, and to better anticipate the long-term effects of what we build [4]. These dimensions spanned brilliantly across the material and immaterial: from the physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, interpersonal, societal, physiological realms, to the spiritual realm.

We celebrate our material humanness with its five sensory inputs, as analog technologies resurge in the digital revolution. The human ear-gate is drawn back to the analog warmth of vinyl records, with all its imperfections. Old-school photography revives [2] as raw aesthetics enchant the human eye-gate. Designers report augmented creativity when software is shed for paper, thereby allowing designers to utilize the human feel-gate (e.g., tactile). Unsurprisingly, companies are increasingly required to strengthen the physical of the digital-physical ecosystem to create consumer value through material and immaterial human-to-human touchpoints [3].

We acknowledge; we must integrate conscientiously the digital-physical-biological ecosystem for Health 4.0. We perceive; we can focus disproportionately on some human values to the neglect of others. We’re cautioned; the dark side of humanity can materialize when human talent and drive to advance technologies are not filtered by ethics. We recoil at the material and immaterial consequences to humans if education is lacking during technological transitions, or if electrification is limited to a third of a population. Yet, we were also artfully guided to address risks by creating legal guardrails that are flexible and bendable enough to allow humans to continue to innovate.

Our community addressed much of what it means to be human, in the context of complex and converging processes. With such shared expertise, we can better guard against inadvertently downgrading the material and the immaterial components of humans.


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