Evgeny Morozov in the WSJ is afraid that ‘smart technology’ might make us a bit unthinking:
The problem with many smart technologies is that their designers, in the quest to root out the imperfections of the human condition, seldom stop to ask how much frustration, failure and regret is required for happiness and achievement to retain any meaning.
It’s great when the things around us run smoothly, but it’s even better when they don’t do so by default. That, after all, is how we gain the space to make decisions—many of them undoubtedly wrongheaded—and, through trial and error, to mature into responsible adults, tolerant of compromise and complexity.
I think he overestimates how successfully engineers will eliminate friction. Even as new technologies solve some problems, they introduce new ones. He also overestimates how accepting people will be of these technologies. I know several persons with WiThings scales, but none of them tweet their weight. And Google Glass’s official unveiling has been met mostly with derision. I agree with Morozov that preserving experimentation and serendipity are important for human flourishing, but we should be careful not to forgo technologies that might unlock our curiosity and humanity in ways we can’t now predict.