The Long and Winding Road: Dumbing down clever people

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Dumbing down clever people…


Let me get this straight, education is available to more people than at any time in human history, access to information is akin to a daily tidal wave crashing in on our senses, yet we seem to be hellbent on rendering mankind devoid of the ability to think.

My mother used to say ‘ You have a tongue in your head, ask!’

Such advice was often dispensed when we were asked to do a message involving finding new things out; for example returning goods to a store, picking up items from a place we had never been to before. It was all part of the process most of us went through as we learned how to navigate the world around us and make situational judgements.

The thought of asking our children to venture out of the house without the requisite smartphone is tantamount to child cruelty by today’s standards. Just as we shook our heads in the early eighties when calculators were allowed in math exams , we see today the denuding of the cortex by stealing practically every opportunity to assess and decide based on observation and questioning.

How are we going to develop young people to be appropriately curious, inquisitive and persistent in the pursuit of knowledge?

Certainly, it will not be teaching them how to be multi-modal voyeurs living vicariously through some other poor individuals private cum public hell. We have become so clever at creating short-cuts that we have eliminated all traces of the routes used. This may be good for those who remember how it used to be done but it renders the younger generation oblivious to the fundamental truths of much of  their daily existence.

About 9 months ago, I commented, in this blog, about Google Glass and all the ‘cool’ things that will be done before anything useful shows up. True enough , the porn thing popped up ( Freudian slip!) , gaming is delving deep into the virtual world again to re-create situations for the armchair serial killer. This week I saw a piece about a heads-up display built into a motorcycle helmet, voice activated mind you, for safety, being launched at a European tech fair.

Yes, the possibilities are endless but are they necessary?

I also talked about wearable tech in this blog around the same time. The latest must haves seem to be ‘smart watches’…. none of which at this point are actually practical but thankfully they are expensive. Well, you can’t have everything!

My concern is this, these things work for those who know how to do things the ‘old way’ but do nothing to enhance understanding of those who know no different. Within a few years we will be wearing satellite tracked clothing, looking at the world through heads-up designer glasses, voice activating our social networks and posting live events as discreetly as James Bond at the High Commissioner’s Christmas Ball. None of which will actually do anything else except hasten the traumas that life throws at us, at least we will be able to access online psychotherapeutic help as we drive where we will complain bitterly into our surround sound system that there is just no time to relax anymore.

I haven’t even mentioned the 800 pound gorilla in the room yet….. what happens when the power grid goes down….. as it certainly will with increasing frequency? If I had instant access to anything in the future , it would be electricity rather than information.

Anyway, until such time enjoy this little report on the heads-up motorbike helmet, it’s a must for all budding fighter pilots!

see you on the long and winding road…….  Patrick


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