Should we fear the intelligence of our smart devices? They already make basic decisions for us, so where does it leave us in the future? Will we evolve to become dumber as a species? And if we become stupider, does it mean that Terminator machines will become a likely reality?
Recently, those questions were on my mind. I’m one of the many that depend on my smartphone and other smart tech to make it through my day on a regular basis. I couldn’t survive without them. They tell me things like when I need to get ready for a meeting and if I have enough money for all my expenses.
Smart Phones Manage Small Tasks
For many, our smartphones have become our personal assistant. I can set up phone features to remind me about upcoming appointments and project deadlines. I can keep track of how long I’ve taken to complete a task using the stopwatch. Or I can ask my phone to remind me to shut off the stove in thirty minutes if I’m busy doing another task.
So much information is at my fingertips. If I want to exchange currency, I can search online, type in a number, and convert the amount. If I want to meet my friend at the mall by five, I can get on a website, input my destination, and my phone will tell me when to leave the house to catch the bus.
The conveniences of having a smartphone are numerous, but is this technology harmful? If I don’t have to make basic calculations anymore, is it possible to forget how to do them?
Tech Helps Us With Travel Plans
While my phone keeps track of the time to remind me when to leave the house, I can focus on another task. I’m not wasting time figuring out how far it is from my house to my destination. I’m not working backwards from the bus arrival time to decide when to walk out the door to get to the movie theatre.
If I’m driving to my destination, I input where I’m going and my car or phone tells me how to get there. No need to study a map beforehand to figure out the best route to take. The time I would have spent doing that can now be spent on more difficult tasks, like deciding what to wear or calling a friend before I head out.
Technology Acts Like a Writing Assistant
You could say features such as autocorrect and editing on word processing programs have made us lazy… and “stupider”. I confess that when I can’t remember the spelling of a rarely used word, I just cobble some letters together and wait for autocorrect to assemble the word for me.
When writing emails, I depend on my editing feature to tell me if I typed a word twice in a row or used the wrong form of a verb. Do these habits make me a bit lazy? Probably. But I think of it as taking advantage of the system.
Why spend the time to look up the spelling of a word in a dictionary? Completing my writing task is more important.
Do I worry about typos and grammar mistakes? Sure. I still review my work after I type it, but my software acts like a second pair of eyes to alert me if I’ve missed an edit. This is especially useful if I’m a bit tired or it’s the end of a long day. I appreciate the extra help.
Do I think that AI could write my emails for me? Not yet. I still have arguments with Grammarly over the suggestions it gives me. Professional writers have said that AI programs that generate content don’t have the same quality as professional writers.
Our technology is not taking away our ability to make big decisions. By making small decisions for us, it’s freeing up our time and energy to work on more important things.
Smart Tech Isn’t Perfect
Despite all my fancy gadgets to remind me when projects are due and which meetings I have to attend, I still have to decide what to do if an emergency arises. How do I diplomatically get out of a meeting, handle the emergency, and still complete a project on time? Smart tech is not yet smart enough to juggle these delicate situations.
Smart tech can also fail you. Only a human can cleverly negotiate their way out of a sticky situation. For example, a writer wrote in a forum that she had forgotten to put an assignment deadline in her electronic calendar. Only by a stroke of luck, she suddenly remembered the three-thousand word article she was supposed to write the day before it was due.
You can’t fire smart tech for failing you. There are some things that tech just can’t do. It can’t find flaws in your organization system. It is not yet able to prioritize your to-do list if you forget to input the data.
However, smart tech can help us accomplish tasks that would be difficult to do on our own.
Technology Can Save Time
A smart washer, for example, can calculate its energy consumption. Imagine the time it would take you to figure out the energy consumption of your washer on your own. You would need to do some research to find the numbers you need before you do any math.
Your ability to come up with the figures for your appliance’s energy consumption could impress your friends. You could also gain some insight into savings on your electricity bill. But why waste time on this when your machine could do it for you?
Meanwhile, you could be using that time to decide what you could spend your savings on. All kinds of smart tech could be managing small tasks for you.
A smartwatch with GPS navigation could help you decide on the best route to your destination. The calculator feature can help you figure out out how much to tip your server. Smartsheets can keep your projects organized, making it transparent when tasks are due. They function as your project manager.
Smart devices make many small decisions for us, freeing up our time (and brain energy) to work on other tasks and make the big decisions. Overall, they help us become more efficient with our time.
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the next post!