How smart technology can make us dumb

(CBS News)  Every week seems to bring some new gizmo or gadget aimed at making our lives easier, but for commentator Luke Burbank, all this "convenience" is having some unintended consequences:

Dear inventors, software designers, and other assorted geniuses (or is that genii?), responsible for all the amazing advances that make our lives so much easier:

Please stop. Seriously, please stop right now. All this "help" you're offering is causing me to devolve, rapidly.

Did you see that movie "Benjamin Button," where Brad Pitt just kept growing younger? Well, that's what's happening to me, but just inside my brain, involving hundreds of simple tasks that I used to know how to do. 

 I realized all of this a few weeks ago, when my wife asked me, as a sign of love and dedication, if I knew her cell phone number by heart.

I looked this beautiful woman straight in the eye, and I guessed . . . wrong. Way wrong.

But of course I couldn't remember her number, because I've never known it. From our first date, she's been a name in my cell phone. In fact, if you hung me over a pit of live crocodiles I couldn't remember seven digits in a row anymore.

I've lost that ability because I don't need it. The machines do it for me.  [And also, that's the part of my brain that's now used for fantasy football.]

Without my computer "assistance," I often end up "Porky Pig-ging it" -- by which I mean trying to spell a word, realizing I can't, before eventually just choosing a completely different word.

I tried to spell "spatula" for eight minutes the other day, before finally settling on "Food Picker Upper Thingy." And if typing something without spellcheck is hard, writing things out by hand -- that is now all but impossible for me. I haven't given my mother a proper birthday card in years, because I don't trust myself to successfully hand-write "Luv Ya Bunches!" anymore. 

I've done the math on this. Well, that's actually not true, I have an app on my phone that does stuff like math for me . . . but anyway, I've looked at that app, and it tells me, based on the rate of invention, and my rate of atrophy when it comes to simple tasks, that at the current pace I'll be reduced to a slobbering infant within six years. 

So please, innovators, I beg of you, stop now. My very life depends on it. 


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