The question is ‘are we getting smarter as a result of all this technology?.
Smart as the technology is, and it gets ever smarter, the answer is probably not.
Some while ago (in the 1980s) two people were discussing computers, which lived in air-conditioned rooms in basements or were terminals with blinking green screens. Would, they asked, technology make us smarter.
They talked about data and information making our decision making better. Of course. They talked about manufacturing and construction and education and yes, computers would play a key role in all of these areas.
But would it, asked one, make a good decision about building a bridge. Some of the great bridges of the world span bodies of water that would seem impossible. If you asked a computer whether you should build a bridge between two islands, the computer, programmed by a practical engineer, might well say ‘no’.
Yet some of our most amazing bridges have been built because a smart and creative human being had a vision of the bridge, a vision of the opportunities the bridge would open up and made the decision that it should be built. Then, equally smart engineers were summoned and, grumbling, worked out how to build it.
That technology can support creativity is not in doubt. But it can also channel and restrict it too.
Take a website for example. Take this one or any other publication-based site. The creativity of humans (maybe take other websites for this example) is fighting against the dictator that is Google and its SEO algorithms. You have to put in keywords a certain number of times, you have to have a headline that is just so long, but not longer or shorter and you have to have a key phrase that has the keywords and a properly tagged image or the little traffic light will not go green and Google will not put your article at the top of the pile.
That is just one example of how smart (see, ‘smart’ is the keyword) technology does not make us more creative.
All the statistics about smart homes and smart cows are great, and it is good to see that technology is making our lives more efficient (although it has yet to deliver on the ‘solving stress’ promise). Smart home devices will grow hugely, and we will all spend our evenings and holidays shouting ‘Dire Straits’ at them (other bands are available). In contrast, the smart speaker has to constantly update its security software because bad guys are using our smart technology as an attack vector.
In all areas of technology, particularly at times like these, we should remember that technology is our support, not our lead.
We should, of course, stay safe. Let us also stay smart.
[Your keyword was found too many times, please delete the most creative section of this article.]