Monday, February 4, 2013

Is Google Making Us Stupid?


Do you sometimes get the feeling that Google maybe knows you too well?  Do you also find it creepy how Google sometimes complete your sentences (not much unlike your partner does) when you do an online search?  In this day and age when we are so completely connected with smart phones, tablets and laptops and having so much information at our fingertips with vast amounts of apps, software and gadgets, I could not help but wonder, is this messing with our brains.
There are many days that I sit in my office surrounded with gadgets and I wonder what my office would have looked like in 1983.  My laptop probably would have been replaced with a typewriter, my email inbox with a physical inbox, my iPad replaced with a filofax and my iPhone with a pager.  When I think about it, I must admit, it makes me anxious.  I have become so used to technology and being effortlessly connected all the time that the thought of not being connected sends shivers down my gay old spine.  I know that people managed just fine without it, back in the day, but I am sure many of us cannot imagine our lives without it.  But this begs the question, with technology making our lives so much easier, what is the price we are paying for it?

Every day I see people in meetings, when having a smoke break with colleagues and even at home with friends and family.  I see how technology is adversely affecting us.  I see how technology draws us in and how it is making our real world attention span shorter.  It seems most people cannot go more than 20 minutes without checking their phones.  I am no different.  I check my phone even though I didn’t receive any push notification.  I check my phone even though I didn’t get an email.  I check it and I don’t really know why.  Do we do this because we are bored?  Do we do this because we are so afraid of missing something that we constantly have the desire to be connected?  I am not sure what the answer is, but we all do it or at least know people who do.
Then there are social media.  Being a social media whore myself I cannot be judgmental about it.  I am on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkeIn and Instagram, to mention but a few.  Social media is a great way of connecting with old friends, staying abreast of world events, networking for work and getting sneak peeks into the lives of celebrities.  But with it also come a plethora of dangers.  As you know, a couple of months earlier I discovered with a shock that I was friends on Facebook with a monster who cut up his boyfriend and ate a piece of his ass and taped it.  As it turns out this was not his first murder and he is in fact a Serial Killer.  As in life there are many dangerous and demented people on the internet, but unlike real life you can’t always tell until it is too late.

You can be anyone or anything on the internet.  Technology has evolved to the point that some people can life completely separate lives on the web with things like Second Life.  They can create a character for themselves, work, shop, have relationships and even have sex all in the comfort of some basement somewhere.  They can create a life for themselves that exists only on the internet and in the process become recluses who may lose the ability to interact with people in the real world.  Sure not everybody goes to that extreme, but ask yourself how many people with whom you chat with on Facebook on a daily basis you have or even plan to meet with in real life.  Ask yourself if that is any different from the folks who embrace Second Life?
Even scarier is how the advancement of technology will affect us physically.  Just the other day I heard a debate on the radio while driving home where one guy said that not so long from now we will have technology embedded into our bodies.  We will enhance ourselves and instead of having a handset for your smart phone it will be build into our hands.  We will have technology build into our bodies that will replace the gadgets we currently use.  This is not as farfetched as you might think.  It is already been done to body parts.  In the United Kingdom a man who lost his hand in a Jet Ski accident have been fitted with a fully functioning bionic hand.  But imagine when we get to the stage when we will voluntarily amputate our limbs to get fitted with a bionic limb that is better and stronger than our organic human one.

We have already seen this in sports.  Sure these athletes did not voluntarily amputate their limbs but the artificial limbs are better than the human limbs.  Just look at the athlete Oscar Pistorius.  In last year’s Olympics he competed with able bodied athletes, something that would have been unheard off ten years ago.  Is it so farfetched that in a couple of decades from now we will stand in line to get the newest version of the fully integrated hand, eye or leg, much like folks queued for the new iPhone 5?  Is it so farfetched that in a couple of decades from now all our homes will have WiFi and that all our software for our enhanced synthetic body parts will update while we sleep?  It is frightening, but as some experts believe this will happen.
I am ashamed to say that I really do think Google is making us stupid.  Who of us have not used Google to check the spelling of a word?  Not known something and then quickly Googled it so that we sound smart and knowledgeable on a subject matter that we really know nothing about it?  Maybe stupid is not the right word to use here, perhaps lazy is more appropriate.  Technology and the internet has made us lazy and in a few decades from now life as we know it will be vastly different.

With the advancement of technology we as a human race are figuring out and creating machines and gadgets that make life easier for us, but the one thing we are not realizing is that we are also making ourselves redundant in the process.  The more gadgets and machines we create the more the human factor is being taken out.  Soon machines will take over most of the function we as humans perform and the real question then is, who will the real Master be?  The creator or the machine?  I guess the answer to this question will have an exceedingly complex answer as half of the human body could, by then, be synthetic and a machine itself.  I am just very glad that I will not be around by then to have to figure this one out.

Till next time.

1 comment:

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