Technological advancement perceived as dangerous

It seems that every major scientific or technological advancement is immediately labeled "dangerous" by critics. 

  • The printing press was going to destroy our memory.
  •  Pasteur's groundbreaking work was followed by an anti-vaccine movement. 
  • Radio was going to destroy society; then it was television; then, the internet. 

Pushback against progress appears inevitable. Technology is usually morally indifferent. Smartphones can be used to video call your grandparents or order illegal drugs. How we use technology is what matters.



Smart technology (probably) isn’t making you dumber

  • A new paper in Nature Human Behaviour states that technology is not making us dumber. The idea that smartphones and digital technology damage our biological cognitive abilities is not backed up by science. 
  • The authors believe smart technology changes how we engage our biological cognitive abilities. They claim that we are developing different relationships to cognition due to smart devices.
  • While fears are likely overblown, technology addiction and memory problems still need to be addressed.



5 ways in which smart technologies are especially useful:

  • Complexity. Fields such as data visualization, financial accounting, and statistical analysis all benefited from the speed and accuracy of technology.
  • Reliance and skill. Advances in computational ability free up cognitive resources so that coders and data scientists can focus on understanding data and building better programs.
  • The internet offers far greater access to information than any previous technology. Because we don't need to memorize, our mental resources are free to be used for creativity or learning other things.
  • Flexibility. People can freely choose what information to memorize and what to offload.
  •  With so much information at our fingertips, we can choose what to focus our attention on. (However, this assumes that smart tech isn't addictive.)

But we should also be aware that every benefit comes with a cost.



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