Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ned Ludd Forever! Nicholas Carr's "The Glass Cage"

Nicholas Carr wrote “The Shallows,” which was a warning against the internets and the googles. Now he has another tome out, this time against warning us against technology.

The story goes like this: up to a point, technology allows us to be more productive. By not having to think about every little thing, we are able to outsource some of our cognitive load to machines/computers. The problem is that there are first diminishing returns and then offloading our brainpower diminishes our skills.

The example Carr uses is autopilot. Pilots in big jets are at the point where they only really have to be at the controls on take-off and landing. Or when there’s an emergency. And it is this emergency that matters. By not reinforcing the skills that the airmen need for every-day keeping the plane in the air, then when there’s an acute need to keep the plane in the air, they might not. There are a couple of recent examples of this, so it is not just scare-mongering.

Carr then extends this out to look at other current and future examples (Carr even looks at driverless cars). He even hits on the Asimov laws of robotics!

It’s interesting, but I’m not sure what to do with it.