Thomas Sowell said, “The march of science and technology doesnot imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It oftenmeans the opposite.” According to Deb Bennett-Woods, the economist ThomasSowell reveals the worrisome gap between what we create and our ability tounderstand it. Changes in an increasingly complex and uncertain environmentmake it difficult to forecast how improvements in technology will affect people’slives. Each position on this quote has a fuzzy boundary across which arise manyquestions. The development of science and technology brings convenience whichdoesn’t require people to think. At the same time, thanks to advanced technology,people have to face unexpected issues such as global warming, and think deeplyand creatively in order to deal with them.
Each has both a dark side and alight side. Both the assertions that agree and disagree with Sowell’s opinionhave rational reasons and examples to support their claims. It is therefore difficultto say who is right. I agree with the quote to a certain degree. As people leanmore and more on technology to solve their problems, it seems like theirability to think for themselves has declined. Nonetheless, I will argue againstMr. Sowell because the march of science and technology lead people to live morecomplex lives.
CounterargumentAdmittedly, based on our mundane lives, advancements intechnology do not always require us to use more complex intellectual thinking. Anincreased reliance on technology nullifies the necessity for people to thinkdeeply to solve problems. People’s reliance on technology might causedependency. Some people come to count on problem-solving technologies to such adegree that when they make a mistake their situation will get worse than if thetechnology wasn’t available. Everyday technologies such as calculators and cashregisters have reduced people’s ability to calculate simple arithmetic. Forexample, in Greengard’s article, a recent study at UCLA conducted by Dr.Greenfield analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, includingresearch on multitasking and the use of computers, the internet, and videogames, indicates that technology actually makes people lose their ability tothink critically.
While performing tasks without assistive technology hasdecreased and the use of technology has exploded, noticeable changes have been observed.Today, many individuals fulfill common tasks better but this doesn’t help them tothink better. In the article, Greengard (2012) also says that “In the humanmind’s quest to store information and process an ever-growing tangle of bitsand bytes, there’s increasing concern that the same technology is changing theway we approach complex problems and conundrums, and making it more difficultto really think”. Technology also exerts negative impacts on children’sthinking and creativity. According to Taylor (Psychology Today, 2012), usingtechnology can alter a child’s brain. In the article, he asserts that useof technology can change the wiring of the brain.
Mobile media is used by morethan one-third of children under the age of two. Taylor highlights that “timespent with technology doesn’t just give kids newfangled ways of doing things,it changes the way their brains work.” For example, while playing video games,the brain tries to react to multiple stimuli, which can also cause distractionand reduced memory.
Thus, children who always use a computer, phone, or the internetlike human search engines may become very skillful at searching for information;however, they perform poorly at remembering it. In addition, the article said,children who spend time with too much technology may not have enough chances toexploit their imagination or read and think deeply about what they have read. MyArgumentScience and technology are a double-edged sword which can beused for both good and harm. Still, I think science and technology havecontributed to people’s intellectual complexity, and dependence on technologydoes not necessarily hinder deeper thinking and creativity. There are severalreasons for this. First of all, developing, implementing and using technologydemands problem solving skills.
Although technology frees us from mundaneproblem solving like calculations, it forces us to participate in more complexthinking. In point of fact, technology may liberate humanity from having to solveexisting problems, but may also create new issues that would not arise withouttechnology. For example, a sudden increase of automobiles has escalated theneed for fuel conservation on a global scale. With high energy demands from emergingmarkets, global warming becomes a pressing concern inconceivable to pastgenerations. People now contemplate solutions to global warming while fullyutilizing critical thinking and creativity along with technology and science.This is evidence that people have maximized their intellectual complexity to anunprecedented level ever to deal with new problems that did not exist beforethe era of technology.
Technology also enables people to access information thatwould be otherwise unavailable. There’s a vast body of information that we wouldn’tknow without science and technology. For instance, the late 20th centurywelcomed the complete eradication of smallpox, a disease that had devastated the human racein recent history, but free thinking humans created a world free of smallpoxwith the technology of vaccines.
Besides, technology relies on the human abilityto think and make choices. This point negates the argument that manyindividuals are not good at thinking and creativity because they depend ontechnology. Every development in and implementation of technology only existdue to human intelligence and decision making. According to Ashley Still (GeneralManager of Adobe’s global Creative Cloud Enterprise business in 2017) we shouldanticipate enormous changes across many industries and employment categories, butwe don’t need to be afraid of technology. From collapse caused by technologicalchange, people derive innovation and productivity and create entirely newindustries and employment opportunities for creative workers. She says mostdesigners would happily waive the mundane parts of their job.
Many designersare already utilizing AI-based techniques like deep learning and machinelearning to expedite their work and minimize time spent on rote tasks like analyzingimages, tagging assets, analyzing datasets to glean marketing insights, or evenideating audio tracks. (Still, 2017) According to a recent survey conducted byStill’s team at Adobe on the status of creativity in business, 70 percent ofcreatives and marketers consider that it’s important to personalize content anddesigns across the customer journey and the key issues with this, is to makeeffective use of data. 74 percent of marketers and creative workers use data topersonalize experiences in order to get the best results in marketing. In thisway, technology, including analytic tools, help people to maximize theircreativity and effectiveness rather than deceasing their ability to think by doingtheir work for them. ConclusionI see this as proof that technology hasn’t harmed ourthinking or problem-solving capacity.
Technology sometimes creates incompetencein behavior and manners; however, if utilized appropriately, technology candevelop our ability to think and act for ourselves.