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BrandonCashen

TechnologyvsSociety
Throughoutthehistoryofmankind,wehaveseenmanygreatpeoplecreatemany
impressiveandlifealteringinventionsthathavechangedthefutureofourspeciesforever.The
newestoneoftheseendeavorswasthecreationoftheinternet,andlikeallotherinventions,
althoughtherearemanysupportersofthistechnology,therearealsomanypeoplewhofearit.
Therearemanypointsthathaveledtotheconstantdebatingoverwhethertechnologyishavinga
positiveornegativeimpactonourcivilization,someoftheseinclude:laziness,hurtingour
brains,changingus,andchangingthepast.Whetherornotyousupportorridiculetheintegration
oftechnologyintoourlives,oneaspectofitthatremains(andmostlikelywillcontinueto
remain)evident,isthateverydayitischanging,andwiththatchange,moreandmore
sociologicalchangescontinuetoformandmanifestthemselvesdeepintothelivesofeveryone
ofuswhomlivesinamodernizedsociety.
Itisnosecretthattechnologyis,andhasbeen,havingamajorimpactoneveryoneliving
inamodern,industrializedcountry.Forthefirsttimeever,billionsofpeoplenowhaveaccessto
anendlessamountofinformationandresourcesthatgiveallofustheabilityandthepowertobe
themostinformedhumansocietyever.Thistechnologicalboomhassetusapartfromevery
othercivilizationofhumansbeforeus,becausenolongerdowehavetospendhours,ifnotdays,
justtryingtolocateanarticleortwoaboutasubject.Now,thankstoaneasilyaccessibletool,
billionsofpeoplenotonlyhaveaccesstomassiveamountsofinformationthatbeforethe
internet,wouldhavebeenimpossible,butnowtheyalsohaveitfasterthanwaseverbefore
imaginable.However,asNicholasCarr,anAmericanwriterwhoiswellknownforhisnegative

viewoftechnology,statedinhisargumentativeessay,entitled"IsGoogleMakingUsStupid?",
"OnceIwasascubadiverintheseaofwords.NowIzipalongthesurfacelikeaguyonajet
ski."(Pg171).Carrisastrongbelieverthattechnology(namelyGoogle)isloweringhuman
intelligence,andhesupportshisclaimbyemphasizingtheamountinwhichhisreadingcapacity
haschangedsincetheinternetwasintroduced.Nolongerarepeoplewithaccesstotechnological
advancementsinthe21stcenturyforcedtosiftthroughlongarticlesinhopesofdiscovering
somethingwithrelevancetowhattheyhopedtofind.Now...thenetisbecomingaUniversal
medium,theconduitforalloftheinformationthatflowsthrough[our]eyesandearsandinto
[our]mind(Carr,171),Althoughtheremaybetruthinhisstatementthathenolongercan
spendhoursreadingandanalyzinglengthyarticles,andthatnowThedeepreadingthatusedto
comenaturallyhasbecomecomeastruggle.(Carr,171),asRobertAcklund,aprofessorat
AustralianNationalUniversity,pointedoutinthePewResearchCentersresponsetoNicholas
Carr,MyabilitytodomentalarithmeticisworsethanmygrandfathersbecauseIgrewupinan
erawithpervasivecalculators.IamnotstupidcomparedtomyGrandfather,butIbelievethe
developmentofmybrainhasbeenchangedbytheavailabilityoftechnology.(Pg381).
AcklundsdefenseagainstCarrsstatementissimplyputthathedoesnotbelievethatjust
becausethewaywelearnandthewaywethinkhaschanged,thatweareanylessintelligent.
Actually,healongwithmanyothers,believesjusttheopposite.Thatthankstotechnology,we
arenowbecomingmoreintelligent,andalthoughthewaywethinkandthewaywelearnmay
havechanged,thatdoesntnecessarilymakeusstupid.Basedaroundhisentirearticle,if
NicholasCarrwouldhavebeengiventhechancetodefendhimselfagainstAcklund,thanhis
statementwouldhavebeenbasedaroundtheideathatthistechnologicalchangeisntas

simplisticasthecalculator,andthatnowhumansarebecomingmentallylazyasaresultofit.
IsmaelPenaLopez,alectureratUniversitatObertadeCatalunyaandanotherquotedsourcein
ThePewResearchCentersdefenseagainstCarr,easilydefendsagainstCarrspointlaterinthe
articlewhenhestatesThestoryofHumankindisthatofaworksubstitutionandhuman
enhancement.TheNeolithicrevolutionbroughtthesubstitutionofsomehumanphysicalworkby
animalwork.Theindustrialrevolutionbroughtmoresubstitutionofhumanphysicalworkby
machinework.Thedigitalrevolutionisimplyingasignificantsubstitutionofhumanbrainwork
bycomputersandICTsingeneral.(Pg182).PenaLopezmakesthesimple,butelegantdefense,
thatchangeisanunavoidableaspectofhumanworkandaschangehappensandadvances,the
entiretyofhumanlifeisinevitablychanged.Laterhewouldgoontowrite:....Asobesitymight
bethesideeffectofphysicalworksubstitutionbymachines,mentallazinesscanbecomethe
watermarkofmentalworksubstitutionbycomputers,thushavinganegativeeffectinsteadofa
positiveone.(Pg182).AlthoughthismaysoundasifhewasdefendingCarr,PenaLopez
actuallyisimplyingthatmentallaziness,likeobesity,iscausedbytheindividualwhoisbeing
lazy,notthetechnology.Timesandtechnologymayhavechanged,butaccordingtoPenaLopez
andmanyothers,theireffectsonhumanbraincapacityisadirectresultoftheactionsofthe
peopleusingit.
WhilediscussingTechnologyandSociety,oneaspectofthedebateisalwaysbased
aroundindividualideasofwhatitisactuallydoingtoourabilitytothinkandanalyze.Clearly,
Carrbelievesthatlearningisthesimplisticabilityofahumantobeabletoknowfactsand
analyzedocuments,butheneverdiscusseswhatexactlylearningis,anywhereelseinhispaper.
ThePewResearchCenter,likenearlyeverythingelseintheirpaper,taketheoppositestanceas

Carrandseelearningastheabilitytoquicklyunderstandandsolveproblems.Thehumanbrain
istooabstractandindividualistictotryandanalyzeorgeneralizeitintoastatementbasedaround
technologychangingthehumanbrainasawhole,butyetmanypeoplearetrying.NicholasCarr
wasquotedbyThePewResearchCenterexpressinghisconcernthatThepriceofzipping
aroundlotsofbitsofinformationisalossofdepthinourthinking"(Pg379).Asstated
previously,Carrbelievesthattechnologyisdirectlytoblameforhislossinintellectualreading,
andalthoughhemayhaveapointthattechnologyhaschangedhiswayofthinking,Carrdoesnot
representallofhumanity.ThePewResourceCenterdirectlydefendsagainstCarrsstatement,
writing:Theresourcesoftheinternetandsearchengineswillshiftcognitivecapacities.We
wonthavetorememberasmuch,butwellhavetothinkharderandhavebettercriticalthinking
andanalyticalskills.Lesstimedevotedtomemorizationgivespeoplemoretimetomasterthose
newskills.(Pg379).Clearly,ThePewResourceCenterhasanunderlyingfavorsupportingthe
ideathattechnologyisntsomuchamachinethatistakingoverourlivesandchangingourbrain
cognition,butismoresoamachineinwhicheachandeveryindividualusingitgivesitthe
amountofpowerthatithas.StephenDownes,adesignerandcommentatorinthefieldsofonline
learningandnewmedia,relativelydefendsCarrsstatementinthePewResearchCenters
defense,whilststillpointingoutthathehasblindedhimselftoafewkeyaspectsofthedebate.
HestatesItsamistaketotreatintelligenceasanundifferentiatedwhole.Nodoubtwewill
becomeworseatdoingsomethings(morestupid)requiringrotememoryofinformationthatis
nowavailablethroughGoogle.Butwiththiscapacityfreed,wemay(andprobablywill)be
capableofmoreadvancedintegrationandevaluationofinformation(moreintelligent).(Pg
380).AlthoughhebelievesthatCarrmakesavalidpointwhendiscussingthechangeinhuman

capacitytobeabletoanalyzelongeducationalarticles,hemoresoseemstobeconvincedthat
Carriswrongabouthowitischangingit.
Carrseesonlyonesideofthechangewearegoingthrough,thelossofbookhabits.But,
forusoverourthousandsofyearsoflearning,thebookistheanomaly,nottheWeb.The
bookledustothinkthatonepersoncouldwriteapermanentcompilationoftruth.Books
livedonovertheyears.separatedfromtheirauthors,asinglevoice,implyingthat
knowledgeisathingoracommodity,creatingthelegalfictionthatonepersonowned
theideasinabookasthoughtheauthorhadgrownupinisolationfromallotherhumans
andalltheideashadsprung,fullyformed,fromhisorherbrain.(Batson,388).
BatsonisthetheDirectoroftheAssociationforAuthentic,Experiential,andEvidenceBased
Learning,andhimalongwithmanyotherpeople,seetechnologyasthetoolthatitis,and
understandthatitisuptotheindividualtocorrectlyuseit.Humansmustmanipulateandusethis
technologyasatool,andnotallow(asCarrclearlyhas)thetechnologytochangeusina
negativemanner.
Lastly,althoughtechnologyhasbeenevolvingforquitealongtimenow,theinternetis
stillafairlynewtoolthatweashumanshaveunlimitedaccessto.Itisclearthattheinternetis
havinganimpactonbillionsofpeopleslives,butexactlywhatitisdoingandwhatitwilldoin
thefutureisstillextremelyunclear.NicholasCarrseemstothinkthatthisisjustthebeginningof
thefuture,andalthoughalmosteveryonewillagreewithhimthere,hisideaaboutwhatthe
futurewilllooklikeandhowitwillaffecthumanity,isquitecontroversialandunacceptedby
many.Hestatesthat...aswecometorelyoncomputerstomediateourunderstandingofthe
world,itisourownintelligencethatflattensintoartificialintelligence.(Pg377).Althoughthis

mayseemextreme,itmaynotbetoofarfetched,becauseasSergeyBrinandLarryPage(the
foundersofGoogle)statedCertainlyifyouhadalltheworldsinformationdirectlyattachedto
yourbrain,oranartificialbrainthatwassmarterthanyourbrain,thanyoudbebetteroff.(Pg
375).WhilediscussingGooglesfuture,PagestatesthatGoogleisreallytryingtobuildan
artificialintelligenceandtodoitonalargescale(Pg375).ThesequotesshowthatCarrs
concernforhumanintelligencetobecomeartificial,maybereal,sinceGoogle(oneofthemost
influentialcompaniesofthe21stcentury)isconstantlyworkingtodevelopthistechnology,it
mayverywellbearealitywithinthenextonehundredyears.However,itisalsoclearthatnot
everyoneagreesaboutwhateffectartificialintelligencewillactuallyhaveonhumanity.The
foundersofGoogleclearlythinkthatartificialintelligentwillbenefithumanityasawhole,and
althoughtherearemanypeoplewhoagreewiththem,therearealsopeoplewhobelievethe
opposite.Whateverthecasemaybe,wearestillalongwayawayfromhavinganysortof
artificialintelligencelinkeddirectlytoourbrain,andeventhoughmanypeopletryandpredict
thefuture,itsimpossibletoknowforsurewhatitwillhold,especiallywhenweallcanteven
agreeandaccuratelyassesswhattechnologyhasdonetoourbrainsthusfar.
Itisnosecretthattechnologyhaschangedhumanlife,andnowwiththeinternet,ithas
donesoatsucharapidratethatnoonereallyknowswhatishappeningtothehumanbrain.
Therearemanypeoplewhobelievethattheefficiencyinwhichtheinternetprovides,makesup
forthefactthatitmaylowerourabilitytoreadthroughlongeducationdocuments.However,
therearealsopeoplewhobelievethatitistherootofallevil.Andlast,therearethosewhosee
technologyforthetoolthatitis,andblameanynegativerepercussionsoftechnologyoneach
andeveryindividualusingit.Whetheryouareasupporterofthepast,haveanalyzedthepresent,

ortriedtopredictthefuture,theonethingthatiscertainisthatifyouarereadingthis,thenyou
havebeendirectlyaffectedbytechnologyinsomeway.

References:

Carr,NicholasIsGoogleMakingUsStupidIsTechnologyMakingUsStupid.MMCC
ProfessorsatMMCC.Mt.Pleasant.MMC,2014.370377.

PewResearchCenter"DoesGoogleMakeUsStupid?"IsTechnologyMakingUsStupid?
MMCC
ProfessorsatMMCC.Mt.Pleasant.MMC,2014.377386.

Batson,TrentResponsetoNicholasCarrsIsGoogleMakingUsStupid?IsTechnology
MakingUsStupid?MMCC
ProfessorsatMMCC.Mt.Pleasant.MMC,2014.397388.