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Updated: September 15, 2013 18:21 IST

Living with technology

Malini Seshadri
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Cartoon by Keshav
The Hindu Cartoon by Keshav

Is technology eating away our creativity and intelligence?

If you think technology has been around only for the last couple of hundred years, you would be wrong. Ever since fire was invented and the wheel was discovered, and even earlier, people have been managing technology. But in recent times, it has often begun to seem that technology is managing us!

We don’t walk to school because there are buses and cars. We watch TV because there is TV to watch. We never stop talking because there are mobile phones. We don’t visit family and friends because we can do “remote visiting” by phone or webcam. In the next few years the world will come into your living room in newer and newer ways, and we will have to exert ourselves less and less to accomplish more and more.

People claim that technology has freed up time for us to be more creative. Yet, people have been astonishingly creative throughout the history of mankind, when technology was primitive by present-day standards. Much of that creative energy and genius went towards enhancing technology itself, but it also went towards music, literature and the arts. Shakespeare wrote out his astonishingly large volume of work with quill pens on parchment paper. Much more recently, Tolkien wrote all the volumes of The Lord of the Rings without the benefit of a computer. Today, a high school student in the western world would feel lost without a calculator and a computer.

Constant Vigil

That does not necessarily mean people are becoming less intelligent. It shows that the brain adapts to new situations, and reallocates its resources where they are needed. But it requires constant vigil to ensure that the human mind remains in control of the technology, rather than becoming dependent on it.

So what would be the ideal way to manage new technologies as they arise? Ideally, to embrace and assimilate them, and use them to increase the efficiency of our output, freeing up time for creative activity and for the ultimate joys of life which require no technology at all — strolling in the park, playing with a child or writing a poem.

The writer is a freelancer. Email: malini1seshadri@gmail.com

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