Monday, April 04, 2016
Forum: What Do You See As The Pros And Cons of Digital Technology?
Every week on Monday, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question: What Do You See As The Pros And Cons of Digital Technology?
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason : The advent of digital technology has changed all of our lives. Whether it has changed our lives for better or worse rests on each one of us alone and how we choose to use it. It is a two edged sword. At a time when the information we seek is at our fingertips, it is of utmost importance to be able to cull through pages and pages of data and critically determine what is true and what is not. Researching a subject can draw us into a rabbit hole of such dimensions we can spend hours in our quest for truth. For the autodidact the use of digital technology helps expand our understanding of specific topics of one’s own choosing in addition to history, the world, and world events. The scope of information is truly staggering and I personally love it.
Digital technology is a wonderful teaching tool but I fear there is too much dependence on it too early. I find so many utilize computers doing every task imaginable but they do not really understand the reasoning and methodology behind what they are doing. If we were ever to find ourselves in a situation where we had no access to it the world would suffer; not from the loss, but from the lack of core understanding and knowledge of what should be basic life skills. A simple example would be counting change back in a sales transaction. Today all one has to do is enter in the amount a customer gives to the cashier and the machine tells them how much change to give back to the customer. Without the computer many would not know how much change to give back. As a child of twelve I was taught how to count back change and then put to work in the family drug store. Today I see adults who have not learned to do this in their heads, so completely are they dependent on the technology. Our schools should be teaching these basic skills without use of computers so our children understand how to reason and think critically.
One can use this same technology to self-stimulate by watching movies, listening to music, playing games or communicate with others through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, filling up ones time while never actually doing, learning, or accomplishing anything. It seems many have no desire to actually get beyond this technology and explore or learn what is really happening in the world and engage in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Music has always played an integral part of my life and I find I do not enjoy the whole aspect of using mp3 players or downloading music. Listening through earphones or headphones seems so solitary and isolating. I love music that surrounds me and love sharing my favorite music with my grandchildren. My grandson actually commented he wishes music today was more like what I play for them.
While digital technology has improved our lives in so many ways, it rests on each of us not to be so completely dependent on it that we miss out on the little things in life, or the most important things either. Those are found in faith, family, and love… not on a computer.
JoshuaPundit: Any major technological change exacts a price for what benefits it provides.
Digital technology puts myriads of information at our fingertips, allows instant communication and the sharing of information across the globe, aids scientific research significantly, among it's other many benefits.
Here's what we've given up as a consequence. Yes, thousands of jobs and even whole industries have been devastated, but that always happens when a major change like digital tech comes along. A lot of the cost has been much more subtle.
While a huge amount of data and information has become available, a significant amount of it is simply bogus and therefore worthless. Mark Twain's old dictum about a lie being able to travel around the world before the truth can even put its pants on was true when he said it, but it is far more true today than it was then. Essentially, the digital revolution has put deconstructionism, where people manufacture their own facts to fit a political agenda on steroids. Combined with the substitution of education for indoctrination this has been devastating for society in ways we're just starting to comprehend now.
Another negative change is that society has become incredibly dependent on those little chips. When I was going through the public schools, the New Math was in fashion and I was frequently marked down on tests even though I got the correct answers for 'not showing your work' because my dad taught me how to do sums and other math calculations in my head. Nowadays, those kind of skills are extinct.
In society today, our power grid, manufacturing, food and water distribution, security, communications, medical facilities, heating, air conditioning, fuel distribution, access to money, even vehicle travel are all dependent on digital electronics. Eliminating them suddenly through an EMP attack would cause thousands of deaths and a major breakdown in society. I doubt that we have ever been this dependent before on any single aspect of technology.
To a certain extent, the human element in society has been retarded. Many young men and women no longer mix in society to find mates but hit Tinder or some other application and 'swipe.' People frequently text rather than calling or even sending an e-mail, forget about letters. Seeking employment in many cases is reduced to sending an e-mail with a resume' as an attachment and today's HR software can be programmed to eliminate any of those which contain certain buzz words or 'triggers' before a potential employer even sees them. Even sex itself is gradually being affected as more and more sophisticated and realistic robots become available at lower and lower prices.
With the advances in AI, will robots eventually become a new 'grievance group' demanding legal rights? I wouldn't be a bit surprised!
Well, there you have it.
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