I was asked to write about technology. More specifically, to debate the effect that growing dependence on technology will have upon the ability of humans to think for themselves. Debating this dependence while actually typing this text rather than writing it by hand, is somewhat ironic. In a world dominated by the technologically superior, one cannot dispense with this extremely important resource; which makes this whole exercise somewhat futile. Yet, one must make attempts to control the situation before it goes too far out of hand. And we definitely do not want a world with humans who do not have the ability to think, as the statement under question claims.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the issue it is important that we understand what is being debated here. Inspite of the idea being quite self explanatory, we do need to define some boundaries for our discussion. When we talk about human capacity to think the only yardstick available to measure it is the scientific, artistic, cultural and political advancements of the age, for these are a direct result of the ideas of the finest humans in existence at the time. When we talk of deterioration of human capacity ot think we need to understand that this cannot be measured over a few years or decades. The timeline therefore in consideration will span centuries of human society’s evolution. So, under the microscope here, is whether the achievements of the human race have been hampered by the technological advancements in this time? For it is these advancements that determine the level of thinking of a generation. And if actual developement of the society and polity is disrupted by dependence on technology, it surely is worthless. That luckily is not the case as shall become quite clearly evident in the following text.
Technology, in my opinion does no more than provide us with tools capable of reducing the time and labour required to perform a particular task. Since all technology traces its origins back to the human brain and its capacity to think imaginatively, creatively and progressively; it is highly questionable that technology by itself will deteroriate the human brain’s ability to think (unless humans who designed this technology intended to do that; which is a wholly different conspiracy theory up for debate). In general, the technological advancements to which the general populous is exposed revolve around smart gadgets and the internet. Before we delve further, we need to understand that technology is not limited to only these two, and that a major chunk of technological advancement is dedicated to scientific progress which in itself is aimed at expanding man’s understanding of the way things work; definitely not affecting his capability to think.
Technology is aimed at simplifying human lifestyle and making it more convenient. How a person uses it, is entirely upto the person itself. A gun in the hands of a criminal or in the hands of a police officer, is still a gun. How the person uses it, determines whether or not it is useful to the society. On similar lines, technologically smart devices have made life more efficient, by reducing the time and effort invested in doing things that were less productive to the society. Theses technological advancemets have helped improve a person’s productivity and efficiency in his contribution to the society.
With the increasing accessibility to the internet, one of the biggest technological wonders of today, a whole world of possibilities have opened up for us. While some will claim that this is making knowledge resources like libraries and bookstores obsolete, what needs to be understood, is that the information and knowledge of these old systems of learning is not getting destroyed. These are simply being replaced by a faster, more efficient system. In this particular case, this does not deteriorate the thinking capacity of the user because the same knowledge value is being delivered even through the improved systems, infact now it is more accessible to those sections of the society which were earlier not capable enough to access these. Now more time and labour can be devoted to actual utilisation of these resources, i.e. learning from them and evolving as better thinking more productive individuals.
Technological advancements, especially in the field of science, have now enabled us to carry out experiments in real time which were earlier restricted to theoretical predictions only. Technology has enabled the society to develop into a more secure and open one. Technoloy has enabled humans to reach beyond the confines of the planet, the solar system, even the galaxy. This has exposed humans to a world of ideas which were completely beyond his imagination, had there been no technology to expose him to the truth of its existence. Technology has given humans the tools to expand his curiosity and to satisfy it also. And to consider even for a moment that technology is responsible for deterioration of humans ability to think is preposterous.
Even a cursory glance through the past few centuries of history all over the world have revealed quite clearly that humans have progressed in all such fields. Human creativity has evolved alongside technological advancement. If the Taj Mahal is a marvel of the old times, the Burj Khalifa is one of today. Humans have not lost anything. In all spheres of society, technology has made the process more convenient, the world more beautiful and the people more imaginative.