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The voice of reason is whispering.

Maybe there are caring and intelligent people in the world. The following is from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and...

Another comprehensive insight came from Barry Chudakov, a Florida-based consultant and a research fellow in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. He wrote that by 2020, “Technology will be so seamlessly integrated into our lives that it will effectively disappear. The line between self and technology is thin today; by then it will effectively vanish. We will think with, think into, and think through our smart tools but their presence and reach into our lives will be less visible. Youth will assume their minds and intentions are extended by technology, while tracking technologies will seek further incursions into behavioral monitoring and choice manipulation. Children will assume this is the way the world works. The cognitive challenge children and youth will face (as we are beginning to face now) is integrity, the state of being whole and undivided. There will be a premium on the skill of maintaining presence, of mindfulness, of awareness in the face of persistent and pervasive tool extensions and incursions into our lives. Is this my intention, or is the tool inciting me to feel and think this way? That question, more than multitasking or brain atrophy due to accessing collective intelligence via the internet, will be the challenge of the future.”

This could have a significant impact on politics, power and control

Respected communications scholar Sandra Braman of the University of Wisconsin shared a perception similar to the type of world Neal Postman warned of in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. She wrote: “What is being lost are the skills associated with print literacy, including the ability to organize complex processes in a sustained way over time, engage in detailed and nuanced argumentation, analytically compare and contrast information from diverse sources, etc. What is being gained are hand-eye coordination skills, certain types of visual literacy, etc.”

She continued: “Which literacies are dominant is of serious consequence for society at large. The practice of democracy is one among the fundamental elements of high modern society that relies upon print literacy, as are scientific thought and experimental science. There are two more issues. One is transferability. Are the deep skills acquired by those with a lot of gaming experience transferable to the meat flesh world? That is, do those who can track multiple narratives simultaneously practice that same skill in environments that aren’t animations and have buttons to push? The second is will. Do those who can, to stick with the same example, track and engage with multiple narratives simultaneously choose to do the same with the meat-flesh political environment? The incredibly important research stream that we have not seen yet would look at the relationship between gaming and actual political activity in the meat-flesh world. My hypothesis is that high activity in online environments, particularly games, expends any political will or desire to effectively shape the environment so that there is none of that will left for engaging in our actual political environment.”

Jesse Drew, an associate professor of technocultural studies at the University of California-Davis, echoed Braman.“My fear is that though their cognitive ability will not be impaired, their ability to think critically will be, and they will be far more susceptible to manipulation,” he wrote.

John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, observed: “The world is becoming more complex, and yet both old media (e.g., cable TV news) and new media (e.g., Twitter) are becoming increasingly simplistic. What passes for politics is increasingly a charade detached from actual governance.”

Paul Gardner-Stephen, a telecommunications fellow at Flinders University, said the underlying issue is that people will become dependent upon accessing the internet in order to solve problems and conduct their personal, professional, and civic lives. “Thus centralised powers that can control access to the internet will be able to significantly control future generations,” he pointed out. “It will be much as in Orwell’s 1984, where control was achieved by using language to shape and limit thought; so future regimes may use control of access to the internet to shape and limit thought.”

A number of anonymous respondents brought up control and attention issues when they responded to this research question. Among them:

“With deregulation, consolidation of media ownership and control, and the acceptance of capitalism as natural and inevitable, learning styles and attention spans are headed toward the inability to think critically. Trends in education, social activities, and entertainment all make more likely a future of passive consumers of information.”

“Popular tools allow us to move at a pace that reinforces rapid cognition rather than more reflective and long-term analysis. I fear that market forces and draconian policies will drive the technology/media interface.”

“Among my own peer group today (the young adults), much more attention is given to the topic-of-the-day than to deep, philosophical/moral issues, and I don’t see this trend reversing. There’s a decent chance something could come around in the next five years to create radical social and cultural change the world over, but it’s hard to predict what and even harder to expect it on a short timeframe when the competition has trillions of dollars at their disposal to prevent such radical change from happening.”

“We need to be more worried about how search engines and other tools are being increasingly controlled by corporations and filtering the information we all access.”

“We have landed in an electronics age where communications technologies are evolving much more quickly than the minds that are producing them and the social structures that must support them. We are not taking the time to evaluate or understand these technologies, and we aren’t having serious conversations about what effects these new tools have on us.”