I am the least computer literate individual of my generation. I truly believe this. The opening of Clive Thompson's, "Smarter than You Think," definitely scared me initially. I was thinking, "Oh goodness, computers can beat people at chess so it is only a matter of time before they take over the world.... I, Robot style."
But I tend to be a little paranoid when it comes to technology (SmartWatches, Car Computers, Location Services... all freak me out). Clive Thompson, however, seemed to put the junction of humans and computers in a way that made me optimistic about the whole thing. I really appreciated how he pointed out that computers and humans "think" differently, no way superior to the other. It is when the collaboration of computers and humans is perfected that you get the "ultimate" machine, like with the chess amateurs that collaborated so well with their computers.
I had never considered that every innovation changes how we think, as Thompson said, whether it's paper allowing us to record thought more linearly or if its newspaper and telegrams making the world seem so much smaller. After reading this, I am freaked out a lot less by technology, specifically computers and see that it is just a normal progression and innovation. It isn't a crutch, or prosthetic leg even. . . It's more of a jetpack for human existence.
Clive Thompson's talk about memories in his second chapter really captured me. I am a huge fan of memories and looking back and so to see the use of technology to aid in that, like Deb Roy used... it was a beautiful thing.
Photo by Carl Van Vechten
The Faulker quote that Thompson chooses to include, "The past is never dead. It's not even past" really struck a chord with me. I feel like in today's society people spend so much time trying to "get over it" or "let sleeping dogs lie" or even "forget about it" when they don't realize that the past is just as much an integral part of who you are as the present. Without the past you would not be who you are or where you are or what you are. It makes me feel as if the word 'past' doesn't give the concept much justice. It is never "past." It seems to me that this word is one instance when the English language falls short in expressing really what is being focused on. The past shouldn't be seen as baggage, but rather beautiful decoration.