The Human and Technology Addiction- Human Technology in the 21th Century, Andrea Kuszewski
Never have we had greater access to knowledge
than we do right now—limitless information just a few clicks
away, the line between man and machine increasingly blurred.
Is all of this connectivity helping us to evolve into a more
intelligent species, as some futurists speculate, or is this
actually hurting us?
If you stop using your cognitive skills and instead rely on technology
to do all of your thinking for you, in time, those skills will start
to atrophy. The worsening of our basic cognitive abilities is bad
enough, but I see an even more problematic issue associated with the
increasing use of technology, and this has to do with the idea of
Ray Kurzweil, a prominent futurist, believes that the key to
advancing human intelligence is the "singularity," or the merging of
man and machine. He thinks that by combining the computational
abilities of a computer with the average man, a race of super-intelligent
humans will emerge.
However, I think he’s wrong about this. Intelligence is not equal to
computational power or processing speed.
The fact is, there’s a reason why computers haven’t yet reached
human level intelligence, and it has nothing to do with how fast they
can compute, or how much power we can load them with. It’s because
humans have something that computers don’t, creativity.
When we over-rely on technology to do our thinking for us, not only
are our cognitive skills losing their edge, but our creativity can suffer
as well. Creativity is what we use when we're presented with a new problem
and need to figure out the best course of action. When we let our devices
make all of these decisions for us, we stop utilizing those problem-solving
Computers have been trained to paint pictures and compose music,
but they have not yet mastered creative cognition—thinking divergently,
going back and forth between conventional and unconventional thinking,
making errors, and deciding on the best, most useful response, given a
particular situation. On this level, creativity can be seen as intelligence that
is emergent from serendipitous error. But this isn’t how we program
computers—we want them to be error-free.
I’m not saying technology is all bad, just that it can be used for evil
if we aren’t conscious about how and when we use it. What’s more
important—to be able to perform faster computations, or come up with
a creative solution to a problem?
I feel that today, creativity is a more critical skill.
Kuszewski, Andrea. "The Human And Technology Addiction - Human Technology In The 21st Century." Qualcomm. N.p., 09 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.
The Line Between Man and the Machine Is Blurring; It Will Change Our Future, Ray Kurzweil
QUALCOMM SPARK: Besides “brain extenders” like smartphones
and computers, is there any other evidence of the merge between
man and machine?
KURZWEIL: Yes, there are people who already have computers in their
brains. Dr. Benabid first demonstrated this with Parkinson’s patients.
With a neural implant, the symptom of rigidity would disappear and
they would suddenly come alive and could walk around. This is one
example of many. We're all handicapped in what we can remember,
what our minds can do. We create tools to extend our reach.
QUALCOMM SPARK: But isn’t there a certain human element that
can’t be recreated by a machine? What about creative thought?
KURZWEIL: Writing novels, painting pictures – these are the ultimate
in human intelligence. AI will be able to do these things by 2045.
QUALCOMM SPARK: Do you think the pace of innovation is picking up?
KURZWEIL: Yes, the pace of change and innovation is getting faster
and faster. We got printed books a whole century after Guttenberg
invented the printing press, which took 400 years to reach a large audience.
The telephone took 50. The cell phone, seven years. Social networks, blogs,
and wikis took three years. The pace of change is getting faster and faster.
By 2045, the pace of change will be so fast we won’t be able to follow it
unless we enhance our own intelligence with artificial intelligence.
QUALCOMM SPARK: What might that look like?
KURZWEIL: Look at Watson, who's dealing with a human game like
Jeopardy, who understands the subtle forms of language, metaphors,
puns, and similes — and is able to play this knowledge and language
game to get higher scores than the best two human players. Computers
have perfect recall and will only continue to get more powerful. What
that means for humans is that the non-biological portion will be a billion
times greater than the biological. We call it the singularity. We’re going to
merge -- and are merging-- with intelligent machines. No question that
I will be smarter in 2851.
QUALCOMM SPARK: So what does our future look like?
KURZWEIL: Our destiny is to expand our mental powers by harnessing
the intelligence that we're creating. We're above a certain threshold of
intelligence that allows us to create tools, which is why our tools grow
exponentially. We will continue to grow our mental powers by using our
AI intelligence, and by 2045 you'll be talking to a biological person that’s
a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence. We’ve already
started the process by offloading our memories to our machines to
create personal social historical memories.
Kurzweil, Ray. "The Line Between Man & Machine Is Blurring; It Will Change Our Future." Qualcomm. N.p., 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.
How would Kurzweil from Passage Two answer the following question from Passage One?
"What's more important-to be able to perform faster computations, or come up with a creative solution to a problem?" (lines 44-46)