4.25.2010

Man and Machine


It seems patently obvious to me, and yet how often do we overreact when it comes to technology, either exalting it as our salvation or shunning it for its inhumanness? No matter how whiz-bang it gets, it's just a tool. We can use it to become vastly more productive and effective, and we can use it to do really bad things or to become soulless; but either way, it's on us to make those choices.

Sitting smack dab in the middle of Gen X, in between the Millennials and the Boomers, I observe (and admittedly this is a gross oversimplification/stereotype) that the young'uns put their trust in the latest technology and in sheer volumes of information, without having a fully matured grasp on how to marshal, synthesize, and make sense of it all. Whereas the old'uns scorn such technocentrism, equal parts reveling in the importance of the human touch and worrying that the world is whizzing past them.

If you visit this space, you know I sometimes exhibit both extremes, and sometimes get it right by understanding how to be in the middle; but at all times I take interest in the interplay between man and machine. So it will come as no surprise that I found fascinating these two recent articles about whether and how we can marshal technology for our enhancement: "A Mini-Revolt against Computers in Chess," from Marginal Revolution, and "Clive Thompson on the Cyborg Advantage," from Wired Magazine. Enjoy the links, and let me know what you think.

Post a Comment