Is modern computing helping or preventing us to become more intelligent?
In the world of today, computers are incredibly fast. iPhone is a lot faster than the computers used to make the special effects of the first Star Wars movies. We have so much computing power now, but it seems our collective imagination has taken a long vacation.
Nice quote I came across on the Internet recently:
Your cell phone has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969.
NASA launched a man to the moon. We launched a bird into pigs.
What am I talking about?
Well, around two months ago, I was looking to change the program I use daily to edit text and source code. This is where all of that starts.
In the last few years I’ve been aware of a culture that exists around one particular program of that sort. (Vim)
From my perspective at that time, the task of going back and studying a completely new way of doing text editing wasn’t really appealing to me. The reasons for taking the plunge and doing it are irrelevant now. The interesting thing is what I have found.
Its like a time travel of sorts, to start using a tool that has been in development for more that 20 years (development starts in 1976) by a community of very intelligent and motivated people. Computers, in their modern form, are a relatively new phenomenon and getting to use a piece of software that is so old and still actively developed and used is a rare thing.
After I spent a considerable amount of time using Vim, I can now safely say that “modal editing” is really powerful. However this requires some self discipline and persistence in studying. Takes time, its frustrating, as everything new is.
In the world of today this software is considered to be outdated by a lot of people. Mostly because of its age. I think it is because most people are too lazy to focus and learn. Modern technologies are making us a lot more intellectually lazy than we care to admit.
Games now are mirror of their movie counterparts. 20 years ago creators had to rely on the imagination of people to convey emotions and action. Incredible stories have come to life in that period. People spent time using the limited technology available to them so they can bring to life complex and thought-provoking ideas.
Now we have great visuals, special effects that are telling us how stuff should look. The worst part for me is that in most cases all this spectacle is devoid of meaning. It is hard to find a movie or a game today that will make you think.
The person of today is not encouraged to think.
– See, its pretty and spectacular! Give us your money and go on your way.
In Geeks We Trust
So the individuals who have yet to forget asking questions and find mind games and general intellectual activities to be rewarding are part of a minority. Our society even has a word for this kind of people now. Geeks.
Geek – a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual
I do not agree with that definition. Only time will tell if we chose to let machines do all of our thinking. For now, I will do my best to earn and keep the “Geek” title. My guess is that this label will change its meaning pretty damn fast.