Are We in a Race Against the Machine? Technological advances have set up the foundation of today’s society, but the question is, has technology actually made us smarter as Clive Thompson claims in Smarter than You Think”? There is no doubt that in the world today, we as humans rely on our smartphones, computers, social media, machines, and television in our everyday lives.
They serve a fundamental purpose: to enhance the way we live, learn, communicate, and keep up with what is going on in the world or in our local regions. Even though one might say technology is making us stupid rather than smart, as Nicholas Carr claims in Is Google Making Us Stupid,” technology is actually making us smarter because as our technology advances, so do our minds. Working with technology, I believe, has had a great influence on the way we think, build, and create in a positive manner. Throughout history, you see its influence on human cognition, the great impact technology has had on the creation of new jobs, and on the way we live our lives today. Advances in technology have had a great impact on society today.
During the Industrial Revolution, automation allowed for the growth of new jobs in factories that created and distributed farm equipment and many other products with more proficiency and effectiveness than ever before. Author Kevin Kelly explains this in his article Better than Human: Why Robots Will and Must Take Our Jobs.” This has everything to do with how technology is making us smarter. You see this throughout the history of the United States and around the world every day. From the end of the Industrial Revolution until now, there has been an endless appearance of new inventions such as the TV, phones, solar panels, the internet, and so on. As technology advances, so does science and the world we live in.
Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been growth and creation of new jobs that require advanced degrees or proper education and training. Today, even a bachelor’s degree may not suffice for jobs that previously only required that level of education. Technology requires humans to be smarter, adaptable, and able to work with it to improve our quality of life. Brooke Gladstone, author of The Influencing Machines,” states in her article, “Technology changes our brains. Humanity’s first use of handheld tools coincided with the growth of the prefrontal cortex, grammatical language, and more complex social networks” (334). Clive Thompson also supports these ideas in his writing, saying “Our tools are everywhere, linked with our minds, working in tandem” (347).
Without the primordial instincts to use and build tools, how else might we have developed cognition? It’s unlikely that we could have. Many people agree that technology influences our daily lives, whether it’s through our smartphones, social media, TV, or any machines we use at home or work. Technology helps us learn in classrooms and stay in touch with family, friends, and pen pals around the world with just a push of a button. It has become a staple of a thriving and educated society.
On the other hand, as Thompson explains, One of the great challenges of today’s digital thinking tools is knowing when not to use them, when to rely on the powers of older, slower technologies like paper and books” (355). I agree that it is easy to get caught up in using the technology in our pockets and forget about reading a hardcover book or writing on a notepad with a pen. Author Nicholas Carr says, “The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our minds” (327). We need the silence of our own minds to absorb information and have time to think and comprehend what we are learning. It also allows us to slow our minds down, concentrate on the words flowing together, and stimulate all senses to bring words to life.