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Thomas Sowell said, “The march of science and technology does
not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often
means the opposite.” According to Deb Bennett-Woods, the economist Thomas
Sowell reveals the worrisome gap between what we create and our ability to
understand it. Changes in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment
make it difficult to forecast how improvements in technology will affect people’s
lives. Each position on this quote has a fuzzy boundary across which arise many
questions. The development of science and technology brings convenience which
doesn’t require people to think. At the same time, thanks to advanced technology,
people have to face unexpected issues such as global warming, and think deeply
and creatively in order to deal with them. Each has both a dark side and a
light side. Both the assertions that agree and disagree with Sowell’s opinion
have rational reasons and examples to support their claims. It is therefore difficult
to say who is right. I agree with the quote to a certain degree. As people lean
more and more on technology to solve their problems, it seems like their
ability to think for themselves has declined. Nonetheless, I will argue against
Mr. Sowell because the march of science and technology lead people to live more
complex lives.

 

Counterargument

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Admittedly, based on our mundane lives, advancements in
technology do not always require us to use more complex intellectual thinking. An
increased reliance on technology nullifies the necessity for people to think
deeply to solve problems. People’s reliance on technology might cause
dependency. Some people come to count on problem-solving technologies to such a
degree that when they make a mistake their situation will get worse than if the
technology wasn’t available. Everyday technologies such as calculators and cash
registers have reduced people’s ability to calculate simple arithmetic. For
example, in Greengard’s article, a recent study at UCLA conducted by Dr.

Greenfield analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including
research on multitasking and the use of computers, the internet, and video
games, indicates that technology actually makes people lose their ability to
think critically. While performing tasks without assistive technology has
decreased and the use of technology has exploded, noticeable changes have been observed.

Today, many individuals fulfill common tasks better but this doesn’t help them to
think better. In the article, Greengard (2012) also says that “In the human
mind’s quest to store information and process an ever-growing tangle of bits
and bytes, there’s increasing concern that the same technology is changing the
way we approach complex problems and conundrums, and making it more difficult
to really think”. Technology also exerts negative impacts on children’s
thinking and creativity. According to Taylor (Psychology Today, 2012), using
technology can alter a child’s brain. In the article, he asserts that use
of technology can change the wiring of the brain. Mobile media is used by more
than one-third of children under the age of two. Taylor highlights that “time
spent with technology doesn’t just give kids newfangled ways of doing things,
it changes the way their brains work.” For example, while playing video games,
the brain tries to react to multiple stimuli, which can also cause distraction
and reduced memory. Thus, children who always use a computer, phone, or the internet
like human search engines may become very skillful at searching for information;
however, they perform poorly at remembering it. In addition, the article said,
children who spend time with too much technology may not have enough chances to
exploit their imagination or read and think deeply about what they have read.

 

My
Argument

Science and technology are a double-edged sword which can be
used for both good and harm. Still, I think science and technology have
contributed to people’s intellectual complexity, and dependence on technology
does not necessarily hinder deeper thinking and creativity. There are several
reasons for this. First of all, developing, implementing and using technology
demands problem solving skills. Although technology frees us from mundane
problem solving like calculations, it forces us to participate in more complex
thinking. In point of fact, technology may liberate humanity from having to solve
existing problems, but may also create new issues that would not arise without
technology. For example, a sudden increase of automobiles has escalated the
need for fuel conservation on a global scale. With high energy demands from emerging
markets, global warming becomes a pressing concern inconceivable to past
generations. People now contemplate solutions to global warming while fully
utilizing critical thinking and creativity along with technology and science.

This is evidence that people have maximized their intellectual complexity to an
unprecedented level ever to deal with new problems that did not exist before
the era of technology. Technology also enables people to access information that
would be otherwise unavailable. There’s a vast body of information that we wouldn’t
know without science and technology. For instance, the late 20th century
welcomed the complete eradication of smallpox,  a disease that had devastated the human race
in recent history, but free thinking humans created a world free of smallpox
with the technology of vaccines.Besides, technology relies on the human ability
to think and make choices. This point negates the argument that many
individuals are not good at thinking and creativity because they depend on
technology. Every development in and implementation of technology only exist
due to human intelligence and decision making. According to Ashley Still (General
Manager of Adobe’s global Creative Cloud Enterprise business in 2017) we should
anticipate enormous changes across many industries and employment categories, but
we don’t need to be afraid of technology. From collapse caused by technological
change, people derive innovation and productivity and create entirely new
industries and employment opportunities for creative workers. She says most
designers would happily waive the mundane parts of their job. Many designers
are already utilizing AI-based techniques like deep learning and machine
learning to expedite their work and minimize time spent on rote tasks like analyzing
images, tagging assets, analyzing datasets to glean marketing insights, or even
ideating audio tracks. (Still, 2017) According to a recent survey conducted by
Still’s team at Adobe on the status of creativity in business, 70 percent of
creatives and marketers consider that it’s important to personalize content and
designs across the customer journey and the key issues with this, is to make
effective use of data. 74 percent of  marketers and creative workers use data to
personalize experiences in order to get the best results in marketing. In this
way, technology, including analytic tools, help people to maximize their
creativity and effectiveness rather than deceasing their ability to think by doing
their work for them.

 

Conclusion

I see this as proof that technology hasn’t harmed our
thinking or problem-solving capacity. Technology sometimes creates incompetence
in behavior and manners; however, if utilized appropriately, technology can
develop our ability to think and act for ourselves. 

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