Most read of the year in technology: we have more fear than hope | Technology

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The most read articles of 2023 in the technology section of EL PAÍS are above all summarized by one word: fear. There are several types of fears: of cell phones, of AI with porn, of AI terminatorto industrial espionage and, in short, to the future and the end of civilization.

This has its logic. If we all die, it will be difficult to enjoy ChatGPT, TikTok or memes. Although fear isn’t the only thing that sets technology apart. There’s another handful of things: iPhone 15, Threads, technical issues. But nothing has the general interest of the apocalypse variants.

Some will think it’s because the media always gives more fear than hope. This is partly undeniable, but it is not only our fault. The newspaper published tips, praises and celebrations of technology, but their impact was much less.

The list is more or less in order. There are a few grouped by theme to speed things up.

1. Are you sure you should give teenagers cell phones?

This is undoubtedly one of the two big topics of the year (the other being AI and its various negative consequences). On November 3, we published a topic on a WhatsApp group of parents in Barcelona: “’A 12-year-old is not ready’: why thousands of parents are uniting to delay the arrival of the first cell phone” , said the headline.

This piece sparked a national and media movement. Since then, hundreds of discussions have been held across Spain with thousands of families with the aim of delaying the arrival of the first cell phone. Dozens of media outlets have relayed the concern, because there is real interest. Today, this age is usually 12 when children start ESO.

This is a complex question with no clear answer. Cautious parents say social media, pornography, pedophiles and other corners of the Internet are too dark a pit to leave 12-year-olds unsupervised. Meanwhile, on the other side, they see more opportunities, more need for education and better predisposition of adolescents.

Proof that fear spreads better, other pieces with less marked titles have had much fewer visits: for example, “At what age should a child be given a cell phone: the experts speak” or “‘The telephone cell phone is not the enemy, these parents are very afraid: the battle for the first telephone is shaking Spanish families.”

Another reason for this disparity, coupled with fear, is that worried parents had not detected that their concern was widely shared. On the other hand, parents less concerned about age and cell phones may have already accepted their decision.

Adults are also concerned about their cell phone addiction. Articles on old Nokias and their variants are often successful. Maybe not because you’re going to buy one, but because of the nostalgia for a time when everything wasn’t on the cell phone: “‘Even Christ doesn’t call me’: the resurgence of telephones” idiots” was one of the most read topics.

2. AI strips girls naked and does even more terrible things

In March, we published the second most read story of the year: “’Deepfakes’: the millions-viewed threat that targets women and challenges security and democracy.” » We hadn’t yet seen what happened in the fall during a conversation in Almendralejo, but the AI’s ability to “invent” a naked body to match a known face was already known.

3. Two new products that interested: the iPhone 15 and Threads

It is surprising. New devices or simple apps usually no longer stand out. In fact, this year the Apple Vision Pro was presented, which is a good innovation. But what generated the most interest was the iPhone released this year. Maybe it was because of the USB-C connector (the normal connector that other phones have) or because of its camera, but the iPhone nailed it once again. The live presentation of an iPhone was a hit a few years ago. But it hadn’t been long. It’s curious.

After a year of Elon Musk on Twitter/X, perhaps the most viable alternative to this social network has emerged: Threads, from Meta. Although it only arrived in Spain (and Europe) last week, the original July article about the worldwide release was widely read. Part of it was a help piece: how it downloads and how it works. Just as topics related to Musk’s birthday or his issues garnered little interest, Threads did. Who knows why.

There is another product that has interested quite a few readers: “The first wireless television that sticks to the wall ‘like by magic’”.

4. We want to know how AI will kill us

This is clearly the subject that generates the most articles: the distant fear that artificial intelligence will destroy humanity. Like Twitter, ChatGPT’s first anniversary will also be celebrated in November 2023, but people prefer to know what it will die from.

The most read topics falling here are AI godfather Geoffrey Hinton’s departure from Google and his interview titled: “If there is a way to control artificial intelligence, we need to find it before it it’s not too late. » Among all the noise about Sam Altman’s departure and return to OpenAI, the issue that blew him away was the supposed discovery of something very threatening that he should have seen with his own eyes. “OpenAI researchers warned of an advance that threatened humanity before Altman’s dismissal,” the topic was titled. We still don’t know what happened.

It is curious that we now talk less about this apocalyptic future, but it still continues to fascinate. For example, another widely read topic was about the bunkers that tech moguls have. This was from an interview with the writer Douglas Rushkoff: “The technological elite are preparing for the apocalypse, they see the end of civilization near. » Additionally, it helped Vice President Yolanda Díaz to read and quote it.

A curious detail is that the topics we have discussed on the hypothetical impact of AI on our jobs have not yet aroused much interest. This is perhaps too worrying a subject.

5. Privacy, but only if the threat goes unchecked

Technology users continue to be surprised by the fact that many devices have huge security flaws that allow marketing companies to shape our personalities. This year, it was not about Android phones and the software that comes pre-installed on them, but about the famous “internet of things” that surrounds us in our homes. Everything is smart now and that comes at a price. “This is how smart devices spy on us and reveal information about our homes: ‘People have no idea,’” it reads. And behind, there are two Spanish researchers.

Another topic that worked really well when it came to privacy was using a VPN for browsing: “I installed a VPN on my computer and I don’t think I’ll ever browse without it. »

6. Technical problems are horrible (and viral)

In the section we already know that when something falls (especially WhatsApp), thousands of people will enter Google to see if it’s them or if it’s something general.

This year this happened again with WhatsApp and, surprisingly, with payment systems.

7. The words of young people are annoying

At this stage, it must be admitted that a newspaper is of more interest to those over 30. So, one of the uses of the media is to explain to young people. An obvious, and quite technological, question is that of language. “’Bed’, ‘expedition’ or NPC: dictionary to understand young people in 25 key expressions”, we titled a vocabulary. We don’t dare add “serve the pussy” (someone who does something very well) and “by the ass” (something that is cool, the “ass” improves perception), which went viral a few years ago days on They like I know what young people say and young people like to be different. Everything fits. For the moment, the RAE does not seem to be following these debates closely.

Another new word that worked was “phubbing”that no one says it, but everyone does it: it’s “the unpleasant telephone habit that annoys couples during the summer” and which consists of “letting oneself distracted by looking at your cell phone while sharing a moment of leisure “.

8. Tinder is a guarantee

Tinder works, both in real life and in the diary. It’s that classic that always appears at Christmas. People like to flirt and if the “Tinder scientific advisor” explains how, even better. He also advises “not to be picky,” which applies to everything.

9. But did Pedro Sánchez have a beard?

Pedro Sánchez’s beard was a subject of debate with the initial AI of Bing (Microsoft). It was one of the best examples of how messy a robot can be and it was also fun. In addition, it is a subject that was born from that newsletter. Double joy.

The president of the government works well in technology. “Perro sanxe” also gave a lot of play: “‘Perro sanxe’ immortal, the pucherazo de Correos and Ayuso like Judas: the memes won after 23D.”

10. TikTok yes, but only a little

We posted a lot on TikTok. Even from the mysterious singer who reached world number 1. But the only TikTok topic that is among the most read of the year concerns journalism, a subject that greatly affects other generations: “The four twenty-somethings from Madrid who created the biggest news media in Spanish language on TikTok” have been widely viewed. .

The future interests us, but above all ours.

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