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Opinion and Insight
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The Taxi Driver Report: Are We Choosing to be Less Human?

Rothco, 6 months, 2 weeks ago

For the next phase in the Taxi Driver Reports, Rothco takes unique consumer insights from London cabbies

The Taxi Driver Report: Are We Choosing to be Less Human?

In a new in-house campaign, Rothco has decided to share its best kept strategy secrets with the advertising industry through a short mini-series with the world’s taxi drivers. The agency are using cab drivers to channel public opinion one city at a time – from Yellow Cabs to Tuk-Tuks - launching a filmed, lyrical tirade of sorts on global brands, cultures, and businesses, all filmed through the rear view mirror and an iPhone. The next instalment of their insightful project takes us to London, where taxi drivers pose the questions: Are the public choosing to be less human? Rothco’s Cultural Strategist Sarah Walsh discusses their findings:



You may think, after watching our latest episode of Taxi Driver Report, and hearing the all-too-familiar descriptions of a robot-like public glued to screens, entirely oblivious to what is going on around them, that this is becoming our new reality, but it’s not all bad news. 

This is not the first time a generation has lamented its own behaviours, pining for simpler times gone by. When newspapers were invented, it was said we would become antisocial as we would no longer gather together to hear the news spoken from the pulpit. The same thing went for radios when they were invented, and TVs and so on all the way up to smartphones today. Every generation has feared that new technology would take away some element of what makes us human. But it has not.

Technology is no new phenomenon, nor is how our behaviour changes because of it. Since the dawn of time, technology has been changing us. Some of our first technologies, stone tools and fire, were so revolutionary that they not only changed our behaviours but the very shape of our bodies (our jaws shrank, our foreheads grew). 

What’s more interesting, is the way that they freed up our minds to imagine, design and create new things like art, religion and culture. Today, our minds have been freed up so much by technology, that we are creating dream-like experiences and allowing people to see things beyond belief. For example, through technologies like VR. In this way technology is - and has always been - merely an extension of our minds which frees us up to create, to imagine and to dream more.

The good news, as we discovered when writing our book The Future is Human, is just that - the future is and always will be human - as long as our species is around that is! No matter how technical we get, physical, tangible things will never cease to be an important part of our lives. We will always rely on our reflex reaction to touch, to see, to taste, to smell and to hear.

While we may have become more used to hearing about the ways technology is making us less emotional, in many ways technology is actually making us even more emotional. For example, through the ways we process news stories today. Last November, as we awoke to hear about the aftermath of the Paris attacks we were also notified by Facebook that our friends had been checked in as “safe” via Safety Check. 

We then scrolled through our Newsfeed to see, read and hear first-hand accounts from people only one or two degrees of separation away from us, taking us on their journey as if we were in it with them.
 
We no longer look on in suspended reality in front of the TV listening to polished and rehearsed newscasters report on the events as we may have ten years ago. We are able to feel the emotion of the event now more than ever.

We are constantly experimenting with new ways technology can help us express our emotions. Last year saw the launch of Cove, an app designed for teenagers coping with one of the most complex emotions: grief. The app acts as a musical journal where users can record different sounds depending on how they’re feeling and add notes to describe them. They can then look back on their logs and reflect on how their mood has developed over time. This is just one example of how technology is providing us with more options to express and share our emotions than ever before.

So although we may live in a world where staring at a screen is becoming more normal than making real conversation with the people beside us, let us take a moment to remember that no matter how technical we get, technology can never make us any less human. We will always have something robots will not have: the ability to feel, and to adjust our own behaviour according to those feelings. It is us who choose our behaviour. So let’s choose to be more human.

Sarah Walsh and Saragh Killeen, the authors and Cultural Strategists.

Genre: Creative technology , Idents , People , Storytelling