On the Today program this morning I caught the tail end of an interview with Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft as he discussed his new book Tools and Weapons. The book examines how we balance the enormous promise with the existential risk that digitalisation of everything brings.
Our blind drive towards greater use of technology is something that I feel strongly about and have serious concerns for our future well-being. I worry about the effects on our kids with their round the clock consumption, our parents who can be shut out if they don’t master the web and ourselves somewhere in the middle. No one is immune.
Despite these fears, my own actions upon listening to the interview illustrate the paradox. The piece finished and I immediately opened amazon on my phone, searched for Brad’s book and bought the audio version so I can listen on Audible.
I haven’t started yet, but typically I finish an audiobook in about four or five hours or put it another way I listen to two or three books per week. This use of technology has given me the most incredible access to knowledge and learning.
I listen at 1.75x the standard speed to increase my ability to consume more information, while still retaining the knowledge. Any faster and I lose track of what the words mean.
Going back to technology, this book and thousands of others like it give you access to the mind, the experience and the teachings of some of the greatest thinkers of our time. Many of the writers are at the cutting edges of our technology and our learning.
So, on the one hand, we benefit massively from the advances of technology, my business is built around the internet, and my mind is expanded by the web, but I believe there is this massive dark side.
The addictive nature, the mindless activity, the manipulation of our thoughts and views, the loss of jobs, the lack of connection to real people, the power and control exerted by a tiny number of international companies.
This list could go on and on. But you can see what I’m getting at. How do we keep hold of the “good” parts of technology and limit the danger and the harm that it can do? I don’t know the answer, but maybe Brad’s book will help. I will keep you posted!
Together, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.
4 thoughts on “The Dark Side”
I totally agree Luke, even though I am using technology to communicate with you and am surrounded by it in different forms I don’t think that it’s totally benevolent. I am sure that the cause of the majority of young suicides is the unnatural world of the internet, the perpetual introspection and having to match up to an unrealistic perfect state, that nobody can achieve, the solitary existence of being on a laptop, mobile or whatever piece of tech and playing games, taking selfies,putting up statuses on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram without having to interact with amother real live person or get out into nature and just experience how calming it can be. The destruction of our planet to make our tech devices and the need for more electricity to make and power them and the pollution when we dispose of them incorrectly is horrific. I seriously believe that even though there is a good side to technology it will be the death of us.
It really is a double edged sword, Luke. I don’t think there’s an answer……yet! On another note, I enjoy your blog…..always food for thought!
I always find your blogs interesting & you display great insight. In this full on digital era I was really impressed recently to learn that my grown up kids are reducing their reliance on their mobiles and embracing less technological options in life for the sake of their health and that makes me hopeful for the future.
I have recently started receiving the blogs and really look forward to them, they are so interesting and inspiring – please keep doing what you are doing!
You said to ‘share your story’, so I will.
My 20 year old sister was murdered 10 years ago by her jealous, obsessive boyfriend who was sentenced for 20 years. Words cannot say describe what a difficult time that was.
Anyway; as much as I fully blame the internet for a lot of today’s problems – addiction, bullying, attention seeking, depression, suicide – for me it was and is an outlet – I don’t do it very often but occasionally I’ll write a post on the past events and share it on Facebook. It’s just a way for me, of releasing the hurt/ anger I feel. Also my sisters Facebook was never closed so sometimes (birthdays or the anniversary of her death) I’ll write on her Timelime – as a way of communicating I guess, because I always found it too hard to go to her gravestone.
I do think the internet has caused a lot of today’s problems like I said (even I’m addicted to Facebook and Instagram!) But it can also be a good thing – I think it depends on the individual that uses it.