As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate. Doyou agree or disagree with the statement?
I disagree with this argument, primarily because of its use of the word ‘ability’. It is true that humans rely heavily on technology; That is the very reason that technology was created in the first place – to have faster, more efficient and more reliable ways of achieving goals or completing tasks. As has been observed since the Industrial Revolution, the greater efficiency of machines and technology has resulted in a reduction of manpower and an increase of mechanized processes of production. For example, a shoe-making factory in Victorian England would have employed 100 workers, but post Industrial Revolution, the workers would be replaced by a set of 2 or 3 machines that worked much faster than them- with less mistakes, and better results. It has now reached the point, where technology is present in every aspect of our lives – from alarm clocks to wake us, stoves to heat and cook our food, cellphones to communicate with, machines to transport us, and machines to better our health. Technology is so pervasive that it has by necessity become an aid, and for some a crutch. It is therefore not unrealistic to imagine that increased dependency on technology would reduce our ability to think.
The keyword here, however, is imagine. As I mentioned in my thesis, I disagree with the evaluation that we loose our ability to think. In my opinion, ability has nothing to do with reliance on technology. Our ability to think is dictated by the environment we learn in. When that environment has technology in it, by habit, we use the technology to reduce the time and ease the effort we put into our ability. and, however, this does not hinder our ability. For example, in middle school in India, I was not allowed to use a calculator. As a result, I understood all the mathematics I learnt – from simple addition, to complex trigonometry and calculus. This formed my ability to learn mathematics. In high school in the Middle East, I was introduced to calculators, and I quickly found that they did the same work as me in a fourth of the time, and without the careless mistakes I was bound to make. As a result, I began relying on them for all my calculations – even simple ones like 15+7, because it was easy to do so. It has now reached a point, where I have to spend a long time thinking about how to do long division – not because I am incapable or unable to do so, but because I have used a calculator for so long, that I have forgotten the procedure. Loss of memory, however, is not akin to loss of ability. Ability is governed by the brain’s capability to learn, and this is not hampered by dependence on technology. With my example of mathematics, all I need to do is look at a book to remember how the procedure is done, and I will recall the process, because I have the ability to do it. In that way, ability is somewhat like muscle memory – we may forget it temporarily, but we do not loose the capacity to re-learn.
Additionally, the statement seems a little bit of a generalization. It says that the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate, thereby arbitrarily placing the entire world of humans in one set. However, not all people are alike. Just because some people might perhaps loose their ability to think because of excessive reliability on technology as a crutch, does not mean that all people will be the same.
In fact, it remains to be mentioned that it is humans are the people who create technology. Technology does not (yet) think for itself – it only does what it is told to do through a complex set of orders and instructions fed into it by its people. When technology fails us, we ‘humans’ are the ones who fix it. Therefore, it seems hasty to jump to the conclusion that humans will loose their ability to think for themselves. For example, when the technology on an airplane fails, the pilots are the ones who think and manually attempt to guide the plane to safety. Technology, when it fails, does not have the ability to think on its feet and come up with out of the box solutions – humans do.
What are your views on the matter? Tell me in the comments below.
p.s.- Yes, this was a practice GRE essay. No, I am not being too lazy to write new posts…well, maybe I am. But you have to agree, questions like this make great points for discussion.