Striking the Right [Tech] Balance

—This week I read three articles that presented a smorgasbord of positions about human-reliance on techno-gadgets.

In the first article, Carr explored the question is Google making us stupid? The author expressed concerned about our reliance on technology. Carr’s general argument is that tech and/or artificial intelligence is gaining strength and humans are experiencing an all time high of dumb. I would place Carr in the sky is falling category.

In The Myth of the Disconnected Life, Farman discussed how technology can be used to heighten our sense of place; he provided a few concrete examples of how tech has been used to enhance our personal experience with place. His argument could comfortably fit in the camp of tech-advocate.

The third piece is an excerpt from Clive Thompson’s book, Smarter Thank You Think. Thompson makes a convincing case for ongoing collaboration between humans and computers. He makes no attempt to promote one entity over the other. I would categorize Thompson’s stance as middle of the road.

I identified more with Thompson’s position. He was equally critical of the abilities of both man and computer. Thompson argued that humans have a unique trait–intuition–which cannot be replicated by computers. For example:

The recent accident between a motorist and one of Uber’s self-driven cars is a demonstration of what can happen if human abilities are absent from reality. A motorist failed to yield to the Uber vehicle, which caused the accident. If we replace the self-driven car with a human driver, we could increase the chances of avoiding the accident. You can read more about this accident by clicking here.

Computers cannot account for the unpredictable behavior that humans express on a daily basis. Yet, I am an advocate for driver assist technology (DAT), which harkens back to Thompson’s description of collaborative chess–humans and computers as chess teammates. I am not comfortable with computers taking full command of automobiles, but a few DAT warnings along the way could enhanced safety.

Much of this was discussed in previous GEDI sessions, so I look forward to rehashing the topic.


Filed under GEDIVTS17, Uncategorized

6 Responses to Striking the Right [Tech] Balance

  1. I like the categories you identify for the three readings as well. I hope our discussion will go beyond re-hashing earlier conversations and help us think through the choices we make about how we engage with the digital ecosystem and various tools when we are teaching and learning. It’s time to start integrating the various topics we’ve addressed into a (more or less) coherent approach.

  2. Iris

    Lol, I like your categories. I can confidently and unashamedly put myself in the sky is falling category. I agree with Carr and he does provide some concrete examples too…

    • Henry Smart

      Yes he does. I was once in that camp back in 1993, which was around the time the web was released from military “control”. I thought “ut oh!”, these civilians will not know what to do with this. I was using ArpaNet before it was the Internet and I understood its potential for good and evil, which had me thinking about the evil more than the good. The sky hasn’t fell yet, and I have slowly moved somewhere in the middle. Thx for the reply.

  3. Oh, and I love the image you use to illustrate this concept!

  4. I appreciate how you put these articles into categories and explained which you associated with most. I also agree in a balance between the use of technology without an over-reliance on it. I can see how DAT’s, like blind spot indicators you see on many cars’ side view mirrors, can reduce the likelihood of accidents. However, too much or too little reliance on technology seems to get people (or robot cars) in trouble.

    In my blog, I also referenced how much of this topic has related to our previous blog posts. I can see how this ties much of our GEDI discussions together. Thanks for your post!

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