Are we getting dumber thanks to smart systems?

Through the usage of sensors and artificial intelligence to some extent, life is made easier for us. Take for example our cars. Almost every modern car is equipped with either parking sensors that guide you or even automatic parking where the driver doesn’t have to intervene. This is very convenient and makes modern cars less prone to accidental crashes.

But is this a good evolution? The more our tools can do themselves, the less we know and the less skills we have. I’m not talking about machines overtaking humankind as in terminator, I don’t think it will come that far, but as Nicholas Carr wrote in his article “Is google making us stupid?” we are getting too lazy and start to rely too much on technology.
There have been cases (example) where plane crashes were caused because pilots didn’t know how to react when the autopilot stopped working.

Those situations are of course exceptions, but I’m afraid we already started trusting machines and sensors more than our own brain. Is putting our trust in machines a positive next step in our evolution or an attack on our common sense and our capacity to think?


2 thoughts on “Are we getting dumber thanks to smart systems?

  1. For me there are 3 ways to look at this.

    First case is hat indeed technology makes you dumber. For example the average person who can spell without mistakes is decreasing because we have spellingchecker. Also the imagination of children is decreasing because they watch too much television and don’t have to imagine things, because they are right in front of them.

    The second case is that people rely to much on technology. Look at your example of the pilot who can’t fly a plane without auto pilot. You can avoid this by higher standards to pass the exam. It is the same thing witch people using advanced mathematical programs like maple. In university you learn how to solve equations and later you learn how to do it with a computer program, but you still have to know how to solve it on your own to completely understand it.

    The last case is where technology just makes it easier. Google maps, google translate or a calculator are just a few examples of this case. A few years ago you had to take a map, a dictionary to search for a place, a word and this took a lot of time. Now you have these things in your pocket on your cellphones and it takes just a matter of seconds.

    On the other hand I think technology makes us smarter. There is a huge amount of information (knowledge) available on the internet just a click of a mouse away. There you can find almost everything you want to know in different languages, different views, with visual aids, … Nowadays when you brows through the internet you find a lot of things, which you would have never found walking outside. At the side of the bottom of an article you are reading there are often links to other articles about the same topic. Your computer can even predict what you like by things you did in the past.

    My opinion is that smart systems are very useful, but you still have to be able to do everything yourself. Technology can make your life easier, but it can not run your life.


  2. In a certain way smart systems do make us dumber indeed. But it depends on what you mean with “dumber”. In the way that you know a lot of things by heart, yes. But on the other hand with these smart systems we are capable of doing more work, in less time. Also harder work, although without fully understanding the theory behind it. So is this necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion it is not! But it should not get out of control of course. I think that as long as you can still function without the smart technology, you can use it as much as you’d like.


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