Untact: Shortcut to ADisconnected Future
Hong Sammy & Park Yang-geon Reporters
A student of CBNU helps himself to lunch at the cutlet restaurant, ordering his food from the kiosk (aunmanned machine). After that, he orders hiscoffee with Siren Order, not waiting in line. For dinner, he orders chicken using anapplication. This shows the life of "untact". Many of you might be unfamiliar with this word. However, if you realize how much untact has infiltrated your lives, you will be surprised. Untact has a significant effect on people these days. Let's find out what untact is and how it prevails in our society.
What is Untact?
The term “untact” is a newly made word, created by adding ‘un’ to ‘contact’, which means not havingcontact with people. Basically every action or circumstance that occurs without contacting people iscalled untact. The term was first introduced in the book Trend Korea in 2018. It includes kiosks, AI, VR, Chatbot (chatting robot), and many more. Indeed, untact is prevailing in various kinds of fields.
So why has untact appeared in our society? There are three main reasons. First, people prefer to be alone. Spending uncomfortable time communicating with unfamiliar strangers makes people feel awkward. Moreover, in business, consumers have enough information about the products, so they don’t need extra help from others. Lastly, using a kiosk is lot more economical to manage the business. Due to increased minimum wage, many business owners are burdened by personnel expenses. It will decrease if kiosks substitute people. Forthese reasons, the term untact has suddenly risen in our society. Many seem to believe that untact will solve the problems between humans.
Any Untact in Our Life?
CBNU students might have seen some kiosk machines or untact marketing technology near the school. As you can see most evidently, there are the unmanned service machines in burger franchise restaurants, bubble tea cafés, ramen restaurants, and much more. By pressing some buttons or touching the screen, you can order food and drinks quickly. This applies to E-mart 24 convenient stores in the dormitory, too. You can charge the chosen goods by yourself, using the kiosk arranged beside the counter. In front of the old main gate in CBNU, you can see the vending machine selling dried flowers. Going to your friend’s house, there are unmanned parcel storages in front of the houses. It is designed especially for one person households.
Aside from that, there are a lot more examples of untact in our society. A case in point, car vending machines are installed in countries like China, Singapore, and America. People can choose the car and it will automatically come down from the machine. Moreover, at Incheon airport, Airstar, an escort machine is ready for you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. Theywill giveyou the information you are looking for and even kindly escort you to yourdestination. The taxi services are also automatedglobally. If you write down where you are and where you are going through an application, a taxi will arrive in front of you. It is clear untact has permeated our lives so naturally that we cannot even notice it. Whether you want it to or not, it has spread everywhere throughoutour daily lives.
What is the Future of Technology?
These days, not only convenient stores and restaurants but also the large sized markets and cafes are starting to be automat; unmanned. You can self-check into hotels with kiosks and applications. Put yourlaundry in a personal box and send a signal to the application. Then, a laundry company will bring the clean laundry back to you within 24 hours. There will be a virtual service that will allow you to see yourself wearing whatever you want, although not actually wearing them. Smart stores are also being launched. Through this, you can look at detailed information like a product’s color and price without asking the clerk. You don't have to go to the hospital to check your health because wearable devices will be able toidentify your health status and inform you of anymedical drugs you may need. And it doesn’t stop there. Untact is still being developed in all aspects of life.
What Will the Future Look Like?
Based on the technologies mentioned above, we will predict the future of society associated with untact.
First, virtual pets can be the most common future example of untact. 'Virtual' development has become inevitable with the development of VR and AR, and we are already experiencing this through various devices. As you know, Pokemon Go and various animal raising games are already familiar to us. In Korea, Instagram (an SNS service) followers of a famous puppy, Injeolmi, has reached 920,000 followers. The YouTube channel Cream Heroes, which uploads videos of cats, has reached 2.2 million followers. By watching animals on channels or on SNS, many people feel vicarious satisfaction and claim to be their fans. Taken together, virtual pets are predictable enough. It is reasonable in terms of cost and a resolution of the issue of abandoned animals.
Moreover, we can talk about the “kindness of a machine”. These days, customized advertisements based on big data are prevailing. If you search for shoes on the Internet, advertisements related to shoes suddenly pop up when you use SNS. In addition, consumers are provided with the articles and pictures that suit their taste by the AI system. This system lays confirmation bias, which will make you reliant on the choices this technology provides. There’s no need to meet anyone who has conflicting ideas of me. “Another me” that is made from AI will become my best friend who knows me very well.
Lastly, “online relationship” is to be discussed. Since the spread of computers, the Internet space has become a place for anyone to interact regardless of their status, disposition, orappearance. In particular, online games play a significant role in actualizing the equality of the society that acknowledges a person if they have great ability, regardless of their appearance. In the movie "Ready Player One", which is set in the future, the characters don’t associate well in actual life, but live as their avatar in games. They make money and even fall in love in the game. Their avatar reflects their inner self perfectlyand equality is realized. It creates anopportunity to heal and becomes a comfortable space for those who are hurt and bored in real life relationships. There is no need to be hurt or discriminated against. Beyond simply expressing one's opinions in the past, anyone can express one's individuality sensibly in various ways and actively move in the online space. Online relationships will be important because restrictions of online space have been disappearing one by one.
What Are Some Opinions About Untact?
The problem with“Untact Divide” can be solved through education and specific explanations. Korea is a fast developing country. The speed of the development is so fast that there have always been problems with the between generations. Nevertheless, people always adapt well.
The development of technology is both a natural and a desirable phenomenon. It brings us huge convenience, therefore allowing us to work accurately and in a faster way.
Problems derived from contacting people will decrease. The emotional consumption and responsibility problem can especially be lessened. Consumers will freely shop, since they can be free of other’s attention.
There will be a decrease in human labor. Then people can live more leisurely.
It is economical for the advocates of to save personnel expenses.. Also, the occupation related to kiosk and unmanned machines will increase.
If untact becomes more prevalent, the human relationship will be desolated. Humans develop by making connections and communicating with others. Living in world of no human contact will impoverish the sociality of people.
Advocates use untact as a means of shifting the burden of personnel expenses in the shape of inconvenience to the consumers. It shows the unfairness of power and wealth.
Untact will worsen the unemployment crisis. Kiosks will substitute a lot of peoplejobs, while making it harder to find a job.
Elderly people who cann adapt to thesemachines will face “Untact Divide”; which means being excluded from the auto-based society. They are denied their right to consume freely.
Since we cannot communicate with machines, when the problem arises, machines will lack in dealing with it. In emergencies and defenseless situations, facing a human will be a better choice.
Living as a Confused Generation of Untact
Until now, we have looked at the present and future examples of untact. Then, what do you think of this development of untact? What is your opinion about the social aspect? Let’s think for a moment and see through other’s opinions about the pros and cons of untact.
The previous articles and surveys show that untact not only creates technological changes but also brings significant social changes. And we are somewhat aware of those changes in our society. What's certain is that the disconnection of our relationship to reality is inevitable. If the technology develops and fully satisfies the consumer’s needs, we cannot help but rationally go for these untact technologies. Untact also gives consumers many options to choose. We, as a consumer, can expect positive effects: preventing fraud, and getting rid of Gap-jil (Gap-jil refers to the arrogant and authoritarian attitude or actions of people in South Korea who have positions of power over others). With the flow of cashless society and the age, kiosks and untact technologies will be more prevalent. Combining with technologies from other fields, untact will gain much more strength.
The most significant factor people are worried about is change in the employment structure. It is obvious that untact itself will keep on developing and the end of simple labor is to be expected. If we cannot expand the field of jobs amid the development, it is necessary for the public to actively demand the government invest in social relief policies by operating movements such as the Ruddite Movement and Occupy Wall Street protests.
Moreover, while previous surveys show that people are afraid of disappearing contact or preferring some contact, technology is still heading in the opposite direction: untact. It is uncertain whether this should be interpreted as a severance of unnecessary relations, or pursuing minimal relations. Still, it is interesting to see that there will be significant changes in the relationships between humans.
Unlike the future of seemingly-positive technology, it has completely replaced the human workforce yet. In some restaurants that use coupons and various electronic reservation methods, even though they have installed kiosks, help from humans is still needed. Also, when specific orders are made and the machine breaks down, it cannot work properly unless humans fix it. Even if an untact technology is applied, there are limitations in the scope of the service, such as the customer having to pick up the food they ordered. The price for installing the kiosk is a burden to ordinary self-employed people, too. They can get confused by different prices of each Kiosk model. Some might not be able to purchase it because they lack information about it.
Another important problem is that people of all generations face difficulty adapting to untact technology. There is not enough information provided for consumers to perfectly use kiosks and order what they want to. There is also a lack of consideration for the disabled and older generations who are unfamiliar with electronic devices because they don’t interact with them on a regular .
Comparing the images of the future presented above, we can't say that untact technology in this society has developed tremendously. But that is why we should wisely set the direction for the development of technology at the time that can be called the early stages of the untact boom. If we can't prevent the fourth industrial revolution and untact technology, the technology should be developed into a positive and beneficial form that many can use. The development must include equality. Only then can we call this a genuine development and genuine progress.