The advent of the 21st century has seen a tremendous rise in the reliance of human beings on technology for everything from communicating with each other within 140 characters or less, all the way to complex surgical procedures in hospitals done by robotic arms.
Students now rely mostly on the internet for instant access to information instead of poring over books and finding the answers to homework and research assignments in a way that enhances the brain activity in order to increase the intelligence quotient in a person. We have become a nation of automation reliant people and in the process allowed technology to dumb down the population of this once highly intellectual country.
Which is why those who fear the demise of our civilization as a people, are oftentimes heard worriedly asking, “ Why has American culture allowed technology to make people less intelligent?”. Wasn’t technology first envisioned as the tool by which access to information and other important data would be shared equally amongst the people, thus creating a much more evolved and highly intelligent race of learned people?
Why was technology allowed to replace human intelligence in most cases? Regardless of the ideas and reasons for what is happening, technology should not be allowed to replace human intelligence in the workplace, classroom, or anywhere else that the uniqueness of a human being is required.
Indeed, we should never have allowed technology to replace human intelligence. It is not yet too late to reverse this growing trend. According to some experts like Kurzweil (as quoted by Shein & Jonsson, 2011):
… we are moving toward Singularity, a radical theory in which technology will advance to a point where biological and artificial intelligence merge. Machines will become more like humans and humans will become more like machines. (Shein & Jonsson, 2011)
This is a startling reality brought about by the fact that our society has become highly reliant on convenience and speed in everything that we do. Included in these activities are the acts of learning and doing. Due to the advent of the internet and search engines, it has become less and less important for people to do any actual research to find information that they need.
Search engines like Google, even tell us which information is most accurate and which we should skip. We have allowed Google and the internet to dictate which information should be viewed as accurate all because we have evolved into a lazy race of people that cannot even take the time to read a book 150 pages long.
Technology has invaded all aspects of our daily lives and it shows no signs of slowing down. It has even begun to take over the job of teachers and professors at educational institutions. A program called The Essay Assesor began selling in 1998 to the academe as the best grading tool for students papers.(Baron, 1998)
It works by scanning the essay of students and looking for clues and hints using keywords in order to determine if a student actually learned his lesson or not while writing the paper. Knowing very well that student essays vary in research and writing styles,It is difficult to believe that such programs can accurately grade a student.
Keywords will never be able to dictate the actual learning that a child has had over the course of a lesson. That can only be done by an analytical and thinking human mind. Let us keep in mind what Baron (1998) said in his paper “When Professor’s Get A’s and Machines Get F’s”:
…consistency in reading is not a human trait. That is why teachers don’t share a common standard for evaluating writing. Such a standard is not something we should either expect or strive for in education, since it’s not something students will encounter in their out-of-school writing.
But it seems the teachers prefer to cop-out of the grading scenario and just allow automation to take over that repetitive task for them thus allowing technology to replace human intelligence yet again. Nevermind if their students get short-changed in the process in terms of grades and learning experience.
Even our world of consumerism has been affected by the advent of artificially intelligent computers. Notice how all customer care calls are now routed through an automated switchboard in the hopes that any problems and issues that you have can be resolved by merely pressing through a series of buttons and call transfers.According to Eric Camulli (2011) :
… avoid a heads down customer service strategy that shifts too quickly and strongly to the use of social media, mobile applications and texting. These channels of communication should be used to enhance human interpersonal communications with our customers, not replace it.
The term “social contact center” shouldn’t be used to describe a technology integration, but should be used to highlight companies that embrace speaking and socializing with their customers in an effort to solve issues, gain trust and promote loyalty.
Instead the human factors represented by customer loyalty, trust and issues are more disserviced these days because of all the technology driven “customer care”. There was a time when customer care specialists were actual human beings whom, thanks to their ability to analyze situations are capable of finding the proper solutions to problems.
It is that human capability that sets apart human intelligence from technology. The fact is that a human being is capable of actually finding a solution to the predicament rather than routing calls through a system that does not have the ability to impart a permanent solution to the problem that you called the company about in the first place.
The problem that faces us now as a society is that technology will continue to advance and take over the human functions because humans are beginning to prefer less and less of human interaction because of the idea that we were all sold on.
The idea that technology means more effecient and fast service. However, nothing can be further from the truth as technology is limited by its programming abilities unlike human beings who have the gift of free will and analysis.
Current trends in technology such as text messaging, twitter, and facebook have force the dumbing of our nation. Rudimentary speech and grammar skills have been thrown out the window due to technological drawbacks of these systems such as only being able to type in 140 characters in twitter and 240 characters in Facebook.
The younger generation of today are slowly losing their learning skills because the internet has placed all the information that they want to have at their fingertips. Cars and airplanes opened us up to a world of speed and convenience and now, we want to apply the same to our learning and work processes as well.
But we cannot allow technology to take over our lives and intelligence. In our misguided attempt to continue to improve technology and ease human life, we are causing the demise of our society instead.(Shein & Jonsson, 2011).
In the end, all we can really hope for is that humans realize the error of this line of technological development and instead, allows the return of control of technological artificial intelligence to the human being. Such as NASA has done by allowing their scientists to control unmanned space missions, ultra high powered telescopes, and the like from their control tower.
After all, that is what artificial intelligence and technological advancement was originally aiming for, the perfect combination of technology and human intelligence. Technology will never be able to replace human intelligence because technology will always be wanting in one way or another. And only the human intellect can make up for that kind of technological shortcoming.
Baron, Dennis. “When Professor’s Get A’s and Machines Get F’s”, Chronicle of Higher Education. 20 Nov. 1998. Web.
Camulli, Eric. “Speak To Your Customers… Before They Can No Longer Speak!”. Customer Think. 29 March 2011. Web.
Shein, Esther & Jonsson, Lee. “Can Technology Replace Faculty?”. Faculty Matters. 2011. Web.