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Technology moving too fast?
Old 08-19-2013, 10:50 AM   #1
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Technology moving too fast?

On another thread, I posted a whiney complaint about GMail. After thinking about it for a while, I have come to the conclusion that Technology is moving too fast, and squeezing out education, philosophy and the general knowledge and information that the world needs to keep on an even keel.

What?... that doesn't make sense! With all of these advances, and the access to the internet and social connection, shouldn't we be nearing a peak of human development? After all, we are living longer and living easier. Shouldn't we also be living happier? Living better? In many cases, we are, but there are also some downsides and I wonder if everything might be moving too fast to avoid the negative social implications.

Growing up with radio first, then telephone, then TV, through the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's... and then through the age of medical advances... 1950 through today, was a gradual, evolving learning process. Most knowledge came from schools (first), then from books, newspapers and reading materials.

Then, computers... before the internet. Setting up the Hayes 300 Baud modem, required reading through a 90 page instruction book of "code" necessary to connect over the telephone, to bulletin boards. Even then, the knowledge necessary to stay up with technology (for the average person), was relatively simple, and came at a pace that allowed one to live life, not unlike the way people lived in the first half of the 1900's.

Then in the 1980's, along came TCP/IP, and the floodgates opened, leading to the world we live in today. CONNECTED!

A short time ago, a New York Times article, pointed out who in the US was NOT "Connected"... surprisingly, less than 1/2 of Seniors over age 65. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/te...anted=all&_r=0... but along with that, a discussion of those people who are being "left behind" because of limited access to new technology. 20% of all Americans do not use the internet at home, work, school or by mobile device.

And so... as I walk through the Mall, and watch 20% of the shoppers talking, carrying or stopped... using their smart phones to "be" somewhere else... I wonder if we aren't going too fast for society to catch up?

When do young people settle down to think about the stars, or nature, or war, and when do they have quiet hours to find their place in the world?

Are we evolving too fast? Is the next "APP" going to change our lives so positively that we need to be on top of every new creation that comes from the world of science and computers? Does every "new" IPhone or tablet or "connected" device have to be part of what we need to know, to cope with today's challenges? Are we suddenly "left behind" because we don't have the latest pharmaceutical, or because we don't know that organic foods will lessen our chances of developing cancer?

What are we missing, as we struggle to keep up with the quantum leap of technology? That's my question!
So far, the answer is not clear, though as I have more "slow" time, I begin to think more about humanity, and to sort out the differences between what I need to know, and what I want to know. I 'm leaning more towards spending more time in the outdoors, listening to the music I never seemed to have time for... Reading more about the world, and people, and the future... and digging into the relationships of people and governments around the world and the potential threats to life, like environmental degradation, nuclear risks, and overpopulation... So many things that are more important than the next social website, or news from the entertainment world.

It's too late to change for me, but I can't help but wonder where today's children will be when they get to be my age... and whether there will be any vestigial memories of the times that are still clear to me.
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:15 AM   #2
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What are we missing, as we struggle to keep up with the quantum leap of technology? That's my question!
Technology makes the workplace "keep up or lose out". I used to collect coins and read National Geographic until sometime around 1988-89. That's when my field office got its first computer, on which we had to submit our work reports in WordPerfect format. At that point, in order to keep up, computers became my new hobby, pushing out everything else. Doing that served me well in the workplace, and has added about 15% to my income, as far as I can tell. But I'm tired of it now, in part because computers are such an appliance now they aren't that much fun to tinker with. So as I'm sort of winding down, I started looking at the old coin collection again, wanting to get it out of stasis in the safe deposit box.
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:26 AM   #3
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Then, computers... before the internet. Setting up the Hayes 300 Baud modem, required reading through a 90 page instruction book of "code" necessary to connect over the telephone, to bulletin boards. Even then, the knowledge necessary to stay up with technology (for the average person), was relatively simple, and came at a pace that allowed one to live life, not unlike the way people lived in the first half of the 1900's.
Seems things are getting simpler - not more complex. Read 90 pages of 'code' to reach a BB? I just set up a WL router for DD - the same model I bought earlier for home and MIL, and now it comes pre-loaded with a unique SSID and password (that you can easily change if desired) - so we plugged it in, she selected the network from her computer, entered the PW and we were done.

Now isn't that simpler than reading 90 pages of 'code'?


Now, I will agree with you that developers do a lousy job with UI, and far too often make changes that seem to be for changes sake rather than as a real improvement. And often the UI goes backwards.

I haven't figured out much of an answer for that, other than using open-source where I can, which is generally more configurable by the user. When Ubuntu moved to a new interface that many did not care for, it was pretty easy to load an alternate interface that works well for me. I also complain to the developers when the UI goes backwards, but I usually get that stupid, standard response of "some customers take longer to adapt to change than others...." - - arghhhhhh! I LOVE change - positive change!

As far as taking time out to 'think' - everything we use is a tool. Use for good or for bad, your choice. You are in control. It's like saying that when we got the horse, or the bicycle, or the automobile, that we 'lost' that 'thinking time' that we had when we walked to our destination. Or did we gain free time to use wisely?

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Old 08-19-2013, 12:23 PM   #4
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Having said that, I know my 91 year old parents would agree with the OP...

Gettin' there fast...

As an almost eerie coincidence, about a half hour after finishing my rant, I received an email with a link to this article, which, in a way melds with my thinking about the speed up in technology. It's a long read, and I disagree with much of what the author feels, but I think it fits in with the speed up in technology.
How Schools Have Become Dead Zones of the Imagination | Alternet

To the point of "dumbing down imagination" and redirecting the thinking process, I'll share this story about a young relative who is two years "pre college". He has already taken the SAT twice, and expects to take it again, hoping to help qualify for a scholarship which will be needed to further his education. The reason for taking the test multiple times, is to take advantage of the test-retest coefficient that can marginally gain in the point score.

It's not that I want to see a change back to the old days, because that's obviously impossible. It's just an old man's dream about the days spent as a kid... sitting on the curbstone, feet in the gutter, on a warm summer's day, and talking back an forth with a few kids in the neighborhood... and then watching grandaughter setting up a 2 hour play date for next Thursday.

Technology is good and necessary... but just possibly some of what I now treasure, may be becoming lost.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:07 PM   #5
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To the point of "dumbing down imagination" and redirecting the thinking process, I'll share this story about a young relative who is two years "pre college". He has already taken the SAT twice, and expects to take it again, hoping to help qualify for a scholarship which will be needed to further his education. The reason for taking the test multiple times, is to take advantage of the test-retest coefficient that can marginally gain in the point score.

I think I understand what you mean, but that's probably not the best story to make your point. I think the young relative is astute. A dumbing down situation to me would be to take it and NOT try to improve your score within the rules (provided you can afford the fee each time). In 1967 I took the SAT seven times trying to incrementally increase my score. I was trying to overcome not having 20/20 vision on an application to the Naval Academy, and every point helped (I didn't get in there, but was accepted at the Merchant Marine Academy and West Point, but did not go to either.)

The play time stuff is different. IIRC, several studies have shown children are being placed in too structured life styles and don't get enough creative time. But that is probably a result of the fact that people can't just let their kids wander around loose all day anymore.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:21 PM   #6
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Technology can be a double edged sword.

On an aside I had a funny experience recently while driving through a remote location with a friend. She brought along her smart phone but was getting very spotty reception. She couldn't get a wireless connection so was out of Facebook and when trying to book a hotel stay, the call would cut out. You know 'What?? Can you hear me? Darn! What? What??" After a few attempts, I went.. "Here try my phone..." (an old, prepaid flip phone). The connection got through..no problem

Moral of the story...newer is not always better.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:42 PM   #7
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I agree, operations of a lot of the stuff are much easier now. Like installation of a wirelss router that one of the posters mentioned. But evidently configuring some things are more complicated and that is probably the reason why a company like Geek Squad is doing great business.

My issue is more with knowing everything that is available because there are things being invented every day that make your life easier or make you live your life more economically, but I don't get to know about them because I rarely watch TV and don't go around talking to people much either. I lately found Viber app. I wish I had known about it before. Once installed, I realized some of my colleages already had it installed on your phones, but there is so much information that we have available but we tend to not know about them until it hits the critical mass.

Anyway, when I was growing up, we only had maybe 7 kind of sodas (coke, pepsi, fanta grape, orange, etc.) - nobody knows how many sodas are available in the US now... kind of like that. You just can't keep up.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:51 PM   #8
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When do young people settle down to think about the stars, or nature, or war, and when do they have quiet hours to find their place in the world?
I'm not sure where we find the time, but as someone young enough not to remember a time before the internet, I don't seem to have any troubles I feel I've been able to learn a lot about the world behind me, but I don't see anything wrong with being more focused on the world ahead.

It's not that we're doing nothing when we're on those connected devices. We are reading, thinking about, and discussing the aforementioned stars, nature, war, and our place in the world. Our world is just bigger, but I don't see that as a negative at all. I love being exposed to people all over the world at every second. I can learn a lot more about the riots in Egypt by texting friends who live there and are involved in them than reading an article by someone with third hand information.

We all treasure different things. I've found life moves at just the right pace for me, but that's probably because it's the world I was born into.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:51 PM   #9
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I think generally, more technology allows us to have more leisure time. Certainly people can bury themselves in technology, but I think the TV could suck just as much time from kids of my generation that it does today. It doesn't matter that there were only 3 channels, I could find something on one of them. Or I could walk away from them, just like I basically walked away from the internet from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon this past weekend, other than a couple quick email checks on my phone, none of which I responded to.

The internet is whatever you make of it. I waste a lot of time on it, but I also use google and wikipedia and other sites to learn a lot of things. Years ago I may or may not have found a magazine article that explained something like the Hyperloop idea. On the internet I was able to read all about it. I find myself doing that with a lot of things, whether it is new technology or the background causes behind various wars or how certain countries have evolved over the years or how to manage early retirement. 30 years ago I would've tried to remember to look things up the next time I went to the library, and probably wouldn't have gotten around to 90+% of them.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:04 PM   #10
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Different strokes... I like the pace of technology change. The more new things the better. I picked up a Windows 8 laptop the other day expecting to be irritated at how difficult the new interface is (based on articles in the paper). Turns out it takes about an hour to get used to it and the networking is the simplest I have seen yet.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:43 PM   #11
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My wife and I turn our phones off during dinner and just talk to each other about life, the universe, and everything. It's not hard to get away from technology. Sometimes, it's just hard to decide to get away from technology.
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Old 08-19-2013, 04:40 PM   #12
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My wife and I turn our phones off during dinner and just talk to each other about life, the universe, and everything. It's not hard to get away from technology. Sometimes, it's just hard to decide to get away from technology.
+1

I remember taking the overnight Amtrak train to visit relatives over the holidays. Back before cell phones and the internet it was 36 hours of no outside contact other than those one traveled with.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:23 PM   #13
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I'm in my mid-twenties and reading about big social, economic, or philosophical issues like you describe is one of my primary online activities. Through the internet I have immediate access to all sorts of data and exposure to the entire spectrum of opinions or arguments on every matter (while a school or book will present only one side of the story). I can correspond instantly with people all over the planet, cruise neighborhoods in Google's Street View, and read every major newspaper regardless of the language in which it's published. I'm actually disturbed when I imagine how ignorant I might be if not for modern communication technology. I think it's completely ridiculous to suggest that someone my age from an earlier era would generally be more informed or aware of their place in the world.

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Old 08-19-2013, 05:57 PM   #14
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I think it's completely ridiculous to suggest that someone my age from an earlier era would generally be more informed or aware of their place in the world.
Very well expressed post. I suspect you're right. BTW, I'm 63, so am not unaware of both worlds, and remember when the only TV was four channels and B&W, and THE telephone in the house had a rotary dial. Computers? Those were astronomically expensive exotic things in institutions that had iron rings with crossing wires in them for memory. I read that in the World Book encyclopedia.

My father was ecstatic when he got a Friedan electro-mechanical calculator in his lab at work. I think that's what it was called. If he'd got something like this desktop I'm using he'd... well, I don't know, but he'd be thrilled with it.

One problem I have, and suspect that many other people do, is deciding which "voice" to attach credibility to, which simply have a different perspective, or are outright nutjobs.

But I'm optimistic in that regard, most people are essentially decent, want to improve their lot, and don't want to do it by stomping on others. Most people anyway.

And you'll still find that dangling your feet in the creek is a good way to spend a summer afternoon.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:14 PM   #15
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My Uncle who is in his mid-80's would not touch a computer because he never learned to type (that was women's work in his day). Today he is connected to the Web via a touchscreen. He even pecks out a few things on the virtual keyboard. It was the real keyboard that scared him. So that is one case where technology advances helped someone catch up.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:25 PM   #16
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I don't wanna be the old curmudgeon that lives at the edge of the forest. I believe in science, in technology and in no way believe we should go back to the dark ages.
My original thought was this:
Quote:
Are we evolving too fast? Is the next "APP" going to change our lives so positively that we need to be on top of every new creation that comes from the world of science and computers? Does every "new" IPhone or tablet or "connected" device have to be part of what we need to know, to cope with today's challenges? Are we suddenly "left behind" because we don't have the latest pharmaceutical, or because we don't know that organic foods will lessen our chances of developing cancer?

What are we missing, as we struggle to keep up with the quantum leap of technology? That's my question!
I do believe we are missing things that happen when technology or societal knowledge goes beyond what "we the people" understand, because we can't be on the front edge of what is affecting our lives... both directly or indirectly.

Who really knew the housing bubble was happening?
Who understood the bank bailouts?
Even now, who understands what part derivatives play in interest rates?
How long was nano second trading going on before we knew about it?
How long did it take for government spying (NSA) to become public?
What do retailers or online social groups know about you?
Dozens of lawyers chasing pharmaceutical errors that happened... why?
Why the F35 costs?
How much do doctors really know about ADHD?
Why does congress rely on lobbies for their knowledge?
Why has the US fallen so far back in edcuation?
Why hasn't technology paid off in medical costs? or National Health?
Why has the middle class income and standard of living fallen?

My dad was a textile worker with limited education, but he knew more about what was going on in government, the economy and his own personal welfare, than I do today, and I consider myself at the least, normally well informed and reasonbly well educated. He knew how to survive without algorithms or being "in touch" 24/7. If the internet should be suddenly compromised, or "down" for an extended period of time, he would have easily survived. Could we? With another extended blackout as in 2003 what would happen us?

So far it all works, but it is becoming more complex and there's a continuing struggle to "keep up". Are we ahead of the game, or are we playing whack-a mole?

So back to the question:
Is technology moving too fast?
Perhaps it should have been:
Is technology moving too fast for us to keep up?

As many of you have said, the advances have enabled us to do more, faster, better... and that's true. You are ahead of the game... but there may never be a person with the same appelation as my own avatar, Thomas Young...
"The last man to know everything".
The technology of the past 50 or 60 years has exceeded that of the past 4.54 Billion years. we're all a part of that, for better or for worse.

I appreciate the thoughtful responses...
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:47 PM   #17
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I'm not sure where we find the time, but as someone young enough not to remember a time before the internet, I don't seem to have any troubles I feel I've been able to learn a lot about the world behind me, but I don't see anything wrong with being more focused on the world ahead.

It's not that we're doing nothing when we're on those connected devices. We are reading, thinking about, and discussing the aforementioned stars, nature, war, and our place in the world. Our world is just bigger, but I don't see that as a negative at all. I love being exposed to people all over the world at every second. I can learn a lot more about the riots in Egypt by texting friends who live there and are involved in them than reading an article by someone with third hand information.

We all treasure different things. I've found life moves at just the right pace for me, but that's probably because it's the world I was born into.
Very nicely said.

Quote:
I think it's completely ridiculous to suggest that someone my age from an earlier era would generally be more informed or aware of their place in the world.
Not so much.

Quote:
One problem I have, and suspect that many other people do, is deciding which "voice" to attach credibility to, which simply have a different perspective, or are outright nutjobs.
Good point. Having lots of information at your fingertips actually means it should take more contemplative time to digest and critically evaluate issues than in earlier eras. I think that's what the OP is getting at, not the having of information, but the processing of it. I really hate what I call the MTV effect....when media started chopping up video and sound clips into 1/2-second bites, giving no time to process what we are seeing before the next clip came by. This style has been with us for 25 years now, training us to experience but not apply critical thought to what we see.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:55 PM   #18
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No I don't think technology is moving too fast.

When new technology is introduced there are always first adopters. The wealthy and well educated often have first access. It eventually reaches down to most of the rest of us and some people never catch on. Older people have always been generally less adaptable to change than younger people. The good old days were always better in some ways . . . or at least some believe this.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:40 PM   #19
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I don't think technology is moving too fast. Seems to me that few ground breaking technological advances have been made in the last decade in fact (at least at the consumer level). A decade ago I was surfing the internet on my home computer while chatting on my cell phone or listening to my iPod. Ok, so my Internet connection is faster, my computer more powerful and smaller, and my cell phone has become "smarter", but really nothing so earth shattering as to require a decade of adaptation - for anyone willing to adapt that is.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:13 PM   #20
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I particularly like law number 3:

Clarke's Three Laws are three "laws" of prediction formulated by the British writer Arthur C. Clarke. They are:
1) When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2)The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3)Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Clarke's three laws - Ask.com Encyclopedia
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