October 26, 2018

Technology doesn't dumb us down


Does technology dumb us down? Are we dumber as it becomes easier to use?
 
It’s better to think in its more general form, that is, technology as a tool, just like knife, pencil, or calculator. A tool is something we wield to do things, to achieve our individual and shared goals. Now we have just brought down some specific examples, let’s use it:
 
Does knife dumb us down? Are we dumber as it becomes easier to use?
Does a pencil dumb us down? Are we dumber as it becomes easier to use?
Does calculator dumb us down? Are we dumber as it becomes easier to use? And so on.
 
As we can see, they all let us get even more things done as they become easier to use. Faster, better, more precise. Tools can’t make us dumber or smarter, tools simply set the baseline for our productivity. Once the baseline is set, one's ability depends on how far we’ve mastered a tool. One with a traditional calculator with few features has little hope to finish a calculus exam before one with engineering calculator, given that they have the same calculus skills and arriving at exact digits is required by the problems.
 
In this sense, technology can't make us dumber. But lazier? possibly.

The definition here allows us to get to a more general definition of tools.