Are we in control as much as we think?

Here’s a scary thought: a world in which human beings are no longer the most intelligent lifeforms, and in fact are now subservient to a new dominating “life form”- one that they invented themselves. Many of you already have an answer in your minds to the question “what is this new species that could overcome humans?” because with every new invention and improvement, that world, although still avoidable and many, many decades (or centuries) in the future if it does occur, is becoming more and more real. The answer is technology.

Nicholas Carr, in the last half of his novel The Shallows, talks more about present technology and the future. He touches upon subjects such as the dominating presence of Google, artificial intelligence, how our research and thinking patterns are affected by the Internet, and briefly looks into what the future may hold. Since technology has advanced so much and has made (arguably) the largest impact on human life and societal development, there is no going back to the time before it was invented. It has simply become too beneficial and integrated into our lives. We rely on some form on technology for almost everything we do.

Carr quotes Frederick Taylor saying “in the past the man has been first, in the future the system must be first.” Taylor is referring to his “system” he invented for increasing productivity among manufacturers, once it had been globally adopted, claiming that it would bring about a “restructuring not only of the industry but of society.” Although Taylor did not have modern day technology in mind, his words can be easily applied. Taylor quoted this over 100 years ago, and man is still in charge of technology, although technology is becoming more advanced and man is becoming more reliant on it to continue to progress at anywhere near the same level as we have been. If you take Taylor’s words in the context of modern technology, they ring quite true. It is slowly becoming more true that technology (“the system”) must come first in order for humans to continue developing at the same pace that we are.

There has even been attempts to create an artificial intelligence that has a mind that can think on its own, independently of algorithms that tell it how to process information. Some people find this close reality frightening, because what will happen once man creates something that doesn’t need man’s help to survive?

5 thoughts on “Are we in control as much as we think?”

  1. First, very funny image. Not so funny when i realize that every notification that pops up on my cell phone i feel like i have to look at, but still funny.
    You’re response made me think of someone’s quote, something about one day our possessions possess us. It’s about the attachments that we build with all of our things, our favorite shirt or a blanket, and how we really really don’t want to be removed from them. I think that this is true with almost everything, just that the internet and cellphones give something back. It can stimulate many senses at once and things like twitter, facebook, pinterest, and youtube actually changes based on the individual’s interest. It demands attention and rewards us for it and can, in a way, pull us away from other things. The fact that this changing, this responsiveness, is developing, it makes AIs seem achievable. And if, as you pointed out, its the next step, our possessions have possessed us.


  2. This is probably one of my biggest fears. Even with the constant advancements in technology, I fear the day when robots come of age. After seeing countless movies on them and how they impact the world, I truly hope scientists take those ideas into consideration when they start building a new gadget. It’s hard to imagine a world where technology could exist with us. But, as you said, although it’s not possible in the near future, it is still possible.
    I really like the picture that you chose for your response. Seeing that visual actually made me realize how my phone does dictate me in some ways. The routine chime of a text message or email immediately makes me stop whatever I’m doing and pay attention to it instead. Even while driving, if I’m not able to grab my phone and check it, I get anxious.


  3. I’m afraid that the time that you speak of is already here. Think about it: How much of your day involves the use of a computer, phone, or technologically advanced device? Maybe they don’t think for themselves. Maybe the devices appear docile. But I would argue the contrary – humans have become docile. The amount we rely on these technologies makes it so that with every moment we spend, we need them even more. That doesn’t sound like a free-willed, independently thoughtful collection of people. It sounds like we have entered a new phase, one where systems and programs dictate the production of human thought and ingenuity.


  4. I admire this idea of artificial intelligence taking over. If this intelligence can improve our societies and other jobs can be created alongside that, will it be such a bad thing? In a human computer interaction class, I learned that most jobs will soon be taken over by machines. Only those that require creativity will still be available.


  5. I do agree that technology has taken over our world, and human beings, in a sense. Not in the sense of domination- where technology rules over humans because it how has a mind of its own- but in the sense that we rely on it so much, if it just disappeared we would not know how to function. I think it’s not 100% certain to be a bad thing if technology does take over many of our jobs, but it certain has a possibility to. A case in which technology is in control is scary and an “end of the world” scenario because that is the way the media portrays it.


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