How Computers Change the Way We Think
The essay, “How Computers Change the Way We Think,” has an interesting theme. It analyzes, as stated in the title, how computers have influenced us in our lives to every aspect of who and what we are. We are creations of what we think and with computers having changed the way we think, they have influenced everything that we do. They have allowed us to do and make ever increasing wondrous things, but can have a negative impact on our everyday life. They alter the way we think and not always in a good way. Everything now-a-days uses computers. They are commonplace in our world. Can you imagine the changes in your life living without computers would bring?
Now, the real question is if computers are influencing our thinking in good ways or bad ways. When most people go up to a device, whether it be a computer or something that uses a computer chip, they want it to be simple and easy to use. They want to know in a jiffy, how it all works. This is interesting because people really don’t care about the in-depth knowledge of why it works or how it’s possible that it could work the way it does. They feel that they don’t need to know that information to help get them along in life.
There is a pro’s and con’s to this as well as to everything in life, including, and maybe especially, new inventions. Now think, the computer didn’t come out all that long ago. There are people still alive who remember life as it was before we had the automobile, television, the computer, email, the telephone and more. Everything was simpler back then because you didn’t have so many complicated new inventions. Things are incredibly complex and complicated even with the hours upon hours that engineers have put in to try to simplify the interface of interaction with inanimate objects. (For example using a mouse, touch screens, new apps etc.…) Many people just expect and almost demand, that people we call engineers, will just do all the work and that the rest of the world can just enjoy their fruits.
Is it a good thing that computers (what we often refer to these days as new technology since basically all technology now has computer chips in it), are now such a part of our everyday experience and learning? Today, the lives of very young children revolve around technology. At an early age in school they are introduced to new ways to think as they start to use common tools like power-point and word processor. These tools start to take the place of a friend or companion in their lives and they don’t know any better. This by itself isn’t necessarily good or bad. However, like any ‘friend’ or ‘companion,’ they will influence day by day what that child thinks and does. In a way of thinking about it, that is exactly what a computer is for many of us. They are in the bigger home appliances as well as in the smallest of appliances to being the phone in our pocket that we wouldn’t know what to do without. This being the case, it can be easy to forget how to function without them. Siri, google, and other apps are very useful tools as well, but sometimes we can rely on them too much and forget about the other time-proven options of learning like the old fashioned hands on application and good old books.
There are some advantages to this technology of course. One being what Erik Erikson described as a moratorium, a time-out or safe space for the personal experimentation that is so crucial for adolescent development. This can be found in all the applications that teenagers, and some adults, use these days like texting, snapchat, Instagram, and all the rest of social media. These offer many distinct avenues of presentation online. Teenagers think of these as a way to communicate to the world and to be a part of it; they dedicate a lot of time to this cause. Doing this can help them to create an ‘Identity’. Some might call this finding out ‘who’ and ‘what’ they are. ‘Identity’ is an extremely important attribute that impacts the development of personality in such a person. Still, this can have a negative impact as well if taken too far or used too much. Like in the case that a teenager uses all of his time on social media and doesn’t spend the time he should trying to learn other appropriate pursuits. Often times, it can be the sad case that they spend too much time on social media as well as TV and other entertainment. In fact, several studies have shown this to be true for the average American. Giving some time to these things can help and can relieve stress, but too much has the potential to hurt them mentally and emotionally in the present and in their futures. In today’s society it is ever more important to be smarter, more knowledgeable, a better worker and a quicker learner than ever before. This environment continues to get more competitive and people have to work harder to stay afloat, but if they waste all their time in their youth on these other entertainments they won’t be able to compete when the critical time in their life comes. This is what makes the predicament so worrisome. It can be stated in a short, simple phrase: if we aren’t progressing we are regressing. There is a point where entertaining oneself becomes regressive and stops giving sufficient profit and we should move on to better activities. There is no middle ground where one doesn’t progress or regress. Time doesn’t stop for us just so we can get our bearings to continue onward progressing. Also, when someone falls behind, it becomes increasingly difficult to catch back up.
In today’s world we live in a culture of simulation. This means that everything today uses simulation to advance technology and everything else. We see this in the examples of surgeons, architects, pilots, drones, engineers and programmers. In essence, we use computers to project what will happen when we do something with or w/out another computer. There is always an increasing number of people who use simulation because of how useful it is. The advances in simulation are pretty cool too. It won’t be long before we get to use it not only for technological stuff, but for other things at home as well. Because technological stuff can have such a close environment with us in our daily lives they can be quite influential on our thought processing or the way we think. Just imagine that we had all of these technological advances now. How luxurious life would be, and how much the challenge of survival would be gone. Now tell me that that won’t change your out view on life. From opposition comes progression and if there is no opposition, or difficulty in living, where will the progression come from? We wouldn’t just be at a standstill, but in regression of character. We may have amazing technological advances, but we would lose what is more important than that. We would lose who we are. Our skills, talents, attributes, slowly one by one they would fade off unless we do something about it. In the movie “Wall-e,” it shows an extreme version of this regression. The human race hopefully will never become so lethargic. We must act now, however, to effectively effectuate that this will never come to be. On the other hand, if used wisely this technology would be able to accelerate our abilities and talents. Every generation we are able to do more than the last. Each generation reaches a point where physics says that you can’t be any better or any faster, and then people innovate a way around it. A classic example of this is with the computer. Years ago people would never have imagined what we can do with it now and how complex it’s become. How easily accessible, to where it’s a device that essentially everyone has in their pocket. Another example in the movie spectrum is in the “Iron Man” series. Iron Man invents a device to save his life because of the great need of his imposing death and because of the knowledge and intelligence that he has. That device he created, we find out later in episode three, was thought to be impossible to make in such a small form. Yet he invented it from scratch in a cave and from there on he kept on inventing new suits, each better equipped than the last. This is a great example of the life of many engineers. They each have their own project they are working on. A project that a few years back people might have speculated impossible to make or do, but now is conceivable thanks to the hard work of many intelligent men and woman.
In the past many intelligent professors have complained that when people would use older tools that aren’t as ‘effective’ as the ones we would use now, they can cause us to not understand the basic principles or foundation of the theory as well as we should. An example of that could be the calculator compared with the slide ruler. Sure, they are more mundane or old fashioned, but they give the user a better scope of how things work; a more down to Earth approach. Such is the fear some of those professors expressed. For if you cannot understand the fundamentals when you have problems that are out of the ordinary then you will not be able to solve them. This isn’t just a problem that they have in one place, but in many all across the educated world. People live life, go to school and learn, but they sometimes find it hard to grasp some of the most basic of principles that people who didn’t have such ‘amazing and advanced tools,’ like we have today, understood during their lives.
These tools can help, but if used too much without first giving the learner a basic understanding of the principles and foundation of what they are trying to accomplish, it can have more damaging and negative effects than positive ones. This can be very destructive, especially where so many unknowing souls could easily fall into this trap. Often the urge to learn and memorize how to use the principle is more prevalent than the urge to completely understand and remember how to use said principle.
In today’s world more than anything else we should take precautions, for it is easier to prevent a problem than to fix it. We should use our creative minds to create new things, but always with a larger perspective in our minds. Don’t lose sight of the cliff edge or the trail that we walk with technological advances. The results could be disastrous. Computers influence our thoughts and actions in today’s world and they always will, but let’s make it a positive influence.