Words: Claire Thomson (She/Her)
While Busted and Jonas Brothers claimed ‘I’ve been to the year 3000/ Not much has changed but they lived underwater’, recently experts have begun to disagree with the noughties boy bands. Inspired by a poll that found the typical American uses the internet for seven hours a day, and shedding some light on what humans could be believed to look like due to an unhealthy reliance on technology, researchers have developed a terrifying model called ‘Mindy’ that replicates what humans may look like in the year 3000. While our increasing tech knowledge has been invaluable for job creation, productivity and learning new skills, the model that has been generated by artificial intelligence has been created to motivate this generation to spend less time in front of phones and laptops and reduce our dependence on tech devices after growing concerns surrounding perseverance in this lifestyle. With some horrifying features, such as ‘text claws’, ‘tech neck’ and a second eyelid, this model poses the question of whether this information should be used to change our habits, or are these predictions ‘over-the-top?’
The anatomical aspects of Mindy are no doubt the most striking. According to the model, looking down at our phones for hundreds of years will eventually result in a hunched posture and lead to the development of a claw shape in our hands. It is believed that gripping our phones in a specific way can cause strain to certain muscles also known as cubital tunnel syndrome. Humans might also suffer from ‘smartphone elbow’, where our arms would be permanently stuck at a 90-degree angle due to placing pressure on and stretching the nerve behind the elbow, by the typical positioning of the hands and arms when many computers are used. The model also features a thicker and wider neck and a second eyelid, which is believed to protect the eyes from excessive exposure to light, the latter appearing terrifying in the images – it could definitely encourage a change in habits by itself.
In addition to anatomical changes, it has been hypothesised that radiofrequency radiation emitted from smartphones could cause serious health implications when exposed to the brain, such as cancers, and impacts memory performance and other cognitive areas. The effects are thought to be especially severe on children as they are less developed, and consequently thinner skulls absorb up to three times more radiation than adult brains. As a result, researchers have developed Mindy with a thicker skull to protect her from harm. However, Mindy’s physical appearance fails to highlight the influences of technology on the mental state of humans. The damage that technology has on our mindset is astronomical. Recent studies have shown that there is a connection between Facebook usage and a decline in long-term well-being, with social media also unsurprisingly criticised for increasing child anxiety and depression.
Despite Mindy causing shock, she is not the first model to be built that highlights the dangers of the overuse of technology and concerns in the workplace. Researchers developed ‘Emma’ in 2019 to emphasise the importance of good workplace conditions after interviewing more than 3,000 employees about their health issues and the impact of their workplace on their future. Similar to Mindy, Emma has a permanently hunched posture due to sitting for hours every day in front of the computer, as well as dry red eyes from prolonged exposure to the screen and colourless skin after spending years in artificial lighting. Emma was used to call for changes in working conditions to protect the health and productivity of employees.
The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt increased our reliance on technology and had a great influence on our lifestyle, as employees switched from social office spaces and face-to-face contact to working from home and online meetings, having conversations through screens. As our lifestyle became more sedentary, the impact of technology on the body and mind started to feature more and more heavily in scientific research due to uneasiness around its future effects.
The development of Mindy on first impression appears unrealistic but these exaggerations have been created to alert and raise awareness of the dangers of an inactive lifestyle. Will evolution allow for these transformations or will the human develop these throughout their life as a result of the increased use in technology? It appears far from likely that humans will adopt the startling features and appearance of Mindy in the future. Her monstrous anatomical changes are exaggerated but, nevertheless, she represents some grounded, scientifically-based concerns that the human population and employers should carefully consider.