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New global study by Lenovo reveals how tech is impacting our human values

Technology and social media can make us better people, or just the opposite. This survey will tell you who's saying what

Over a third (38%) believe current technology is making people more open-minded and tolerant by allowing us to see the lives of people across the world 35% think technology is making us more understanding whilst 32% believe it makes us more charitable 66% of people believe Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to increase understanding of other cultures even more

Whilst few would refute that technology contributes to making our lives easier, a new global research from Lenovo  has found that a large proportion of those surveyed feel that technology has the power to make us more understanding, tolerant, charitable and open-minded.

The survey polled more than 15,000 people from the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy and revealed that nine out of ten respondents (89%) think that technology plays a large role in their day-to-day lives. Meanwhile, 84% said that technology improves their lives.

Although we might presume the main ways in which technology impacts our lives is by helping us achieve our daily tasks – such as emails, streaming and so on – Lenovo’s research has found that in many cases, technology is actually having a strong impact on our human values.

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 For example, 38% of global respondents believe smart devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and VR are making people more open-minded and tolerant. Meanwhile, over a third (35%) believe technology is making us more understanding and empathetic.

It is likely that the rise of social media and video sharing platforms are key to this, allowing people to connect with those from other countries and cultures, gaining an insight into their lives through social posts, video and other content. The window into the world of other people’s lives through technology is also a key contributor of the 70% of respondents who believe technology makes us more ‘curious’.

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The study also found that a third (32%) of people are of the opinion that technology makes us more charitable. This is likely the result of the increased prevalence of charitable giving platforms which allow people to make donations online, as well as enabling people to share their charitable endeavors via social platforms.

Respondents to the survey also believe emerging technologies could have an even more significant impact on our values in the future. Indeed, two-thirds (66%) say that VR has the potential to cultivate empathy and understanding, and help people be more emotionally connected with people across the globe by allowing them to see the world through their eyes.

The global nature of this survey has meant that interesting differences can be found around the world. In particular, Brazil, Russia, India and China appear to have the most faith in the ability of technology to positively impact our values. For example, 90 percent of respondents in China think VR has the ability to increase human understanding, whilst that figure is 88% in India and 81% in Brazil. By comparisons, just 51% believe this to be true in Japan, a country that is rather technologically advanced, whilst the lowest figure is in Germany (48%).

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One respondent in the study remarked: “VR would give those who think the world is perfect an insight into other people’s world and make them realize the pain and suffering some people have to endure in their daily lives.”

There are of course two sides to every coin, and some respondents do feel that technology can instead divide people. For example, 60% of respondents in the survey agreed that tech makes people more judgmental of others, especially through the lens of social media.

The ‘immediate’ nature of the internet also has some side-effects. For example, 43% of respondents believe that technology is making us less ‘patient’, whilst 59% said it can make us ‘lazy’ and 49% said that it can make us ‘selfish’.