We fail to see that a computer that is a hundred times more accurate than a human and a million times faster will make ten thousand times as many mistakes.
Automated systems tend to lull us into passivity.*
Some of the most threatening issues we’ll face as humans are creeping up on us without us noticing. It’s not the technology so much as how we’ll change as we use it. As we allow technology to fill the space between ourselves and our environments the danger is that we will find we are being de-skilled.
There used to be a time when we knew exactly what the technology did, that it was simply an extension of ourselves. When we picked up a spade it was to break open the ground spa we could plant something green or dig the footings for a structure. Or when we fitted our specs to our faces to be able to see better. Much of the more recent technology fills the space without being noticed. This will increase as those who remember doing things a different way come to the end of their lives.
More than ever, we need the people who refuse to give in to the new, the necessary, the labour-saving, without asking the questions that allow us to grow in our humanity whilst being the user of the machines rather than the used.
Smart is neither a substitute, nor a short cut, to wisdom.
When we allow technology to fill the space between ourselves and others, ourselves and our city, ourselves and our world, ourselves and ourselves, then our “seeing” senses become dulled. Our feeling senses follow, and then our ability to be artists or makers and stretch our understanding and expression of what it is to be human wanes.
Richard Hennessy imagines what forms at the point of two colours meeting and the artistic possibilities. He writes these words in a piece written for the publication Art in America “The Man Who Forgot How to Paint” in 1984, but he could be writing for all of us and the possibilities when our colour comes into contact with the colour of our environment whether that be a person, nature, an object, and idea:
When two colours meet they form an edge whose enormous aesthetic potential can be realised only of the edge is treated as the occasion for drawing … To one side we will have solidity, hence mass; to the other, air and light.”**
In this way we are able to set out on the adventure it feels we are here for, to let nothing move between us and exploration, which may become an adventure. As Chris Guillebeau writes of the classic hero’s journey:
‘A hero sets off in search of something elusive that has the power to change both their life and the world.’^
Questions can often turn out to be more valuable than answers.