Einstein feared technology’s effects… why don’t we?

John Devitt

Recently a Facebook acquaintance of mine posted a quote from Albert Einstein who said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Einstein is likely rolling in his grave observing the world we live in today.  The acts of hand writing a letter or striking up a conversation with a stranger are lost arts practiced only by social deviants too rebellious to rudely refer to their mobile device when they have run out of narrow-minded opinions to bombard you with.  Technocrats want us to believe that all we need is more technology to simply right the wrongs created by the last 150 years of technological advancement.

In fact, it was precisely one of these arrogant, self absorbed technocrats who commented on the above noted social media linked quote, proselytizing the will of ‘the great circuit board’.  Apparently if we only agree to lay the last vestiges of our humanity at its altar then we will ascend beyond traditional roles of work and reach a creative utopia where our time once again becomes ‘our own’.

It is remarkable when so called ‘progressively thinking’ individuals can condemn mindless subscription to traditional religious structures, while at the same time preaching their own brand of righteous digital zealotry.  Magically thinking that technology will somehow, someday solve all our problems is as narrow minded and laughable as believing some super being with a long grey beard is somehow monitoring the thoughts and actions of billions of people located on a small speck of dirt in a backwater corner of the universe.

If we simply look around us, sure, we see technology has proven to be a solution to many problems.  However, it has been the direct cause of multitudes more.  The automobile was meant to revolutionize transportation, connecting people with shorter travel times, providing faster movement of goods, services and information.  Instead it has created an unsustainable and unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels, incredible damage to our natural environment and the paving of paradise to put up a parking lot for rubber tire traffic.  Instead of providing more time for us to be creative individuals, as purported by our narrow-minded friend, it has instead destroyed communities and devastated natural settings.  But most egregiously, we have rescinded our ‘free time’ and allowed it to be absorbed by seeking solutions to the exponentially increasing number of problems technology has created.

Suggesting that more technology, better technology can somehow solve all the problems that technology has created and compounded is as absurd as advising extinguishing a fire with much hotter flames from an infinitely larger inferno.  Perhaps we should all sober up by drinking another bottle of tequila?

Einstein’s fears are evident all around us.  Jobs are lost and reputations damaged beyond repair due to overreliance on text-based email messages, which act on one level of the multi-dimensional realm of communication.  Without tone, body language and other inputs to help us determine the idea we are receiving, we are left to generate our own inputs, leading to a breakdown in the system entirely.  If communication is between two beings, giving and receiving inputs, text based communication breaks that in half and forces the recipient to provide all inputs, which inevitably lacks the true meaning of the original message.  How often has someone expressed anger at an email or text they have received only to find out later that this was not the intention of the sender?  How often have we heard of the social isolation intrinsic in social media?  Our technology has made it unnecessary to communicate face to face, and thereby has exceeded our humanity.

We are becoming a society incapable of having human interactions outside of social media channels and mobile devices.  The true meaning of friendship has lost its weight and relevancy with a few superficial clicks of “Add Friend” and “Like Status”.  Unable to decipher non-verbal cues, carry on a dialogue, or participating in true human to human communication, is the social training presented by technology.  Under the guise and promise of bringing people closer, once again technology has only served to drive us further apart.

Only in getting back to the basics of being human will we find the key to the next stage of our evolution.  To look for external aid in technology is an egotistic fallacy focused entirely too much on others solving out outer problems for us, which we’ve already seen played out in the past thousand years of religious domination.  We should be seeking within for answers and methods to improve society.  As a wise man once said, “The Emperor wants to control Outer Space.  Yoda wants to explore Inner Space.  That’s the fundamental difference between the good and bad sides of the Force.”