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Archive for December, 2009

Brain or Electronics?

01 Dec

There are so many ways that electronic devices have improved humanity and life as a whole be it through simple changes in communication or advances in healthcare.  These advances have been god for society and individuals, but the question then becomes, where does the line get drawn?  Where does technology go from aiding in everyday life to taking over for pieces of life that our body is capable of doing on it’s own?  The main problem is that often times the problem that has been caused by technology that is hindering ones mind and body goes unnoticed.  And although there are often still benefits to the piece of technology, the question of whether the benefits outweigh the costs needs to be closely researched.

Cell Phone Failures

The Persistence of Memory discussed this sort of a case in something as simple as a cell phone, but it made an incredibly valid point that many people may not even realize.  Once all of your numbers are programed into your phone under the individual’s name, there is no need to remember their number.  Although you may think you would still easily remember the numbers of the individuals you talk to most, this may not actually be the case.  When I did not have a cell phone I knew all of my friends telephone numbers by heart.  When I got my own cell phone I still remembered the numbers of the people I talked to the most because there were times I would call from my house phone at home and did not always have my cell phone on me.  Since I came to college both my boyfriend of five years and 200819683my best friend of eighteen years got new cell phone numbers and as much as I talk to both of them I do not think I would be able to successfully call them from a landline if you took away my cell phone. Because I have not had a landline in my dorm or house since I have been in college I have not had any need to remember their numbers, my phone does it for me, but I would still be able to tell you their numbers before they changed them even though they changed over a year ago.  Shibuya epiphany showed the importance of cell phones to today’s youth and young adults and begs the question of whether having a landline to access would even matter in the current society.  Today cell phones are taken practically everywhere and conversations are able to occur even where conversations are not normally allowed through text messaging.  But does this instant access to information really mean a decline in information we store and have access to in our brain?  It could in some cases, have a positive effect.

Instant Access, Instant Answers

The Persistence of Memory talked with a computer scientist named Gordon Bell who created “lifelogging”, in which he digitally records every moment of his day and ends up with a “virtual memory of his life”.  As strange as this may sound there are some benefits to this unusual process.  Clive Thompson went on to discuss the “implications of lifelogging” that although all the information is then available, there is still some difficulty with organizing it.  He did however state that it has been shown that if the images taken of your day are reviewed quickly at the end of the day, your long term memory will likely improve as a result.  Privacy is the major drawback to this invention because although the images would be collected of the individual who was wearing the camera’s life, others are involved in that life as well and may not want parts of their life recorded.  Would this still be a problem if everyone was recording? And is this what the world is eventually coming to?  Professor Halavais discussed in his lecture bluetooth headsets that would actually be implanted in the tooth unnoticeable and present at all times.  If this is not extremely far in the distance than neither is having a camera on you collecting information at all times.  The only positive that I see to this is the ability to protect the innocent.  After attending a court date just last week where the police officer gave a false report of the events of the night in question having a camera to prove what actually happened would not have been a bad thing.  Clive Thompson when referencing the “lifelogging” made the statement “two years ago this day what did you do” and this was the first thought that came to mind.  How many individuals have been wrongly persecuted and could have easily proven their innocence had their actions during that time and day been available to present?  As much as the information has been in their brain and known to them, they would be able to present it to others through electronics.

Conclusion

Overall there are a number of electronics which are obvious and many mentioned above that help improve life and make it easier.  But what society needs to be careful of is the extent to which we rely on electronics over our own brains and intelligence and we can not let it get to the point where we are more apt to listen to and use what we have created over what we and and already have.