Reading back over my earlier post about "SF hitting its limit because we have hit ours" (as I summarized it), I suspect I seem rather like a Luddite itching to throw his wooden shoe into the machinery.
Let me put it this way: I'd rather have the technology we have now than not have it. There is no question in my mind that having these things has immeasurably broadened the scope and quality of our lives. I wouldn't be posting this stuff on a blog if I didn't think so. I wouldn't be working in this field if I didn't think so.
What I don't believe is that such improvement is automatic; it has to be earned. The fact that we have enormous amounts of data at our disposal only helps us if we are also capable of making native distinctions between facts and fancy. I know a few too many people who still equate having recall of -- or access to -- facts (or "data") being the same thing as being smart, when it's plainly not. I would rather have someone with splendid command of only a few facts, versus incompetent or middling command of many of them.
Many of the "tech is making us dumber" pundits have a kernel of truth, even if it's expressed very badly, or in the service of an agenda I profess no sympathy for. It's not that tech is making us all into dolts -- it's that tech makes it easier for us to delude ourselves into thinking we know something, when in fact we don't. It does also makes it easier for genuine learning to take place, but if we don't know the inherent differences between those states in the first place, we're lost.
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Other Lives Of The Mind