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Are Digital Distractions Harming Labor Productivity?



인류 멸망까지 남은 시간을 비유적으로 나타내는 ‘지구종말시계’가 자정 2분 전으로 설정되었다. 이는 지난해 설정됐던 것과 같은 시간으로, 우리 지구가 종말에 가장 근접했음을 의미한다고 한다. 원자력과학자회보는 1947년 이후 지구종말시간을 발표하여 국제사회에 경종을 울려왔다. 분침의 조정은 여러 과학자들과 노벨상 수상자들이 모여 기후변화, 핵무기, 생명과학기술 등 여러 분야에 대한 의견을 수렴하여 결정된다. 올해의 종말 위기 요인은 악화된 국제 안보 상황과 기후변화로 꼽히고 있다. 1947년 지구종말시계는 자정 7분 전인 11시 53분으로 처음 설정됐고, 1953년 미국과 구소련의 수소폭탄 실험으로 최악의 위기로 치닫는 상황에서 올해와 같은 자정 2분 전까지 가까워진 적이 있다. 1991년에는 미국과 구소련의 냉전이 종식되면서 자정 17분 전인 11시 43분으로 늦춰지기도 했지만, 금융위기가 가시화되고 중국 및 러시아가 다시 부상하기 시작한 2007년부터는 다시 자정에 근접하게 설정되고 있다.

In 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) introduced a clock that would serve as a visual representation of how close humanity is to nuclear annihilation--midnight. The Doomsday Clock was initially set at 7 minutes to midnight following the end of World War II. It has been set forward and backward 23 times since, adding climate change and technology to its considerations. What time is it now?

In the first month of 2019, the BAS revealed that it is now two minutes before midnight. The clock remained unchanged since its last reset in 2018. This is the closest we have ever been since the production of hydrogen bombs in 1953. But should we really take this seriously?

Yes. The clock signifies the threats the world has to face. The BAS calls the current world security situation as the “new abnormal”, dangerous times when fact is indistinguishable from fiction. It risks “emboldening autocrats and lulling citizens around the world into a dangerous sense of anomie and political paralysis,” the 2019 Doomsday statement says.

In the past years, evidence of a new arms race has proliferated. More nuclear weapons are produced and developed rather than being dismantled. North Korea’s verbal intimidation and aggressive testing pushed the clock nearer to midnight in 2018. And while the US-North Korea summit was a big political leap, it merely calmed the waves but not the storm. Acts of terrorism, violence, and diplomatic schisms are fueling the fire that might have been avoided if treaties were honored instead of circumvented.

Moreover, the increasing indifference to climate change also convinced the BAS to move the clock forward the past year. The Paris Agreement might make a difference in the future, but a widespread surge in carbon emissions is a matter of concern. To make matter worse, some people do not believe in global warming or do not see it as a severe problem. The lack of care for the environment by both the citizens and the government will only exacerbate the problem rather than solve it.

Another factor to look at is the recent development of technology. Are the advancements managed well? Information warfare is a threat to democracy as hackers have entered the political scene by attempting to manipulate elections. Hacking the Internet of Things mean gaining access to millions of personal accounts— a kind of terrorism the world is yet to be prepared for.

Is the Doomsday Clock only there to scare us? No. But it is better not to let our guards down and take the information for granted. Experts can make mistakes in their calculations, but pieces of evidence are all over the place if we just care enough to look. We are two minutes to midnight, and it is everyone’s choice to either watch or do something to adjust it.