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Do Gadgets Degrade Our Common Sense?

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the stay-off-my-lawn dept.

Technology 311

ShelleyPortet writes "In a world where gadgets are growing more sophisticated, human behavior is changing — and not in a good way. That is what Robert Vamosi, author of When Gadgets Betray Us argues in his book, which examines the dangers of our growing dependence on technology. As gadgets develop the ability to multitask seemingly endless functions, Vamosi argues that people are increasingly unable to think for themselves. 'Instead of lifting our heads, looking around and thinking for ourselves,' Vamosi writes, some of us no longer see the world as human beings have for thousands of years and simply accept whatever our gadgets show us."

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311 comments

People have never thought on their own (5, Interesting)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036414)

some of us no longer see the world as human beings have for thousands of years and simply accept whatever our gadgets show us

And how did the human beings see the world before? Yes, only the area they lived on. The culture, and the religion. They heard and saw what dictators, politicians and religious persons told them. It was a very far off from the reality and it still shows today with religion. I rather hear things from everyday people. Theres a lot of information and knowledge that would never come out of "official" channels. Or with todays technology I can travel the world myself and see those things. Yes, some people will never use that opportunity. But at least now it's possible for everyone and everyone can make their own decisions instead of some religion telling you what to do.

Yes, I've traveled to Asia and even had sex with shemales there. I'm thinking of marrying an asian woman, which seems to be a problem for the religious types in my family tree but not for anyone else. And that would had been completely out of possibility in communitys where religion tells you it's "immoral" to have sex before marriage, or hell, make all of their women wear clothes that can't even show their faces. Gadgets, internet and the technology in general has allowed me too see different parts of the world myself, and hear things from a lot of different kinds of people. It has also opened my mind and made me question the stupidity that religion is and like this article tries to imply, controlling information so that only a few persons can express their opinion.

The point is, most people didn't think on their before either. They followed what someone else in power told them - be that their parents, religion or their country. Now there's at least the possibility to choose.

Re:People have never thought on their own (0)

lsolano (398432) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036734)

The culture, and the religion. They heard and saw what dictators, politicians and religious persons told them. It was a very far off from the reality and it still shows today with religion. I rather hear things from everyday people. Theres a lot of information and knowledge that would never come out of "official" channels. Or with todays technology I can travel the world myself and see those things. Yes, some people will never use that opportunity. But at least now it's possible for everyone and everyone can make their own decisions instead of some religion telling you what to do.

Absolutely agree. And just to add to your point of view regarding religion, centuries (decades?) ago stupidity was even worse, when the mass was spoken in Latin and people did not even understood Latin!

Re:People have never thought on their own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036822)

Yes, I've traveled to Asia and even had sex with shemales there.

Of course you did. You're posting on Slashdot.

Re:People have never thought on their own (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036832)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Re:People have never thought on their own (2)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037014)

I'd like to combine your post with an interesting quote from the parent, thusly:

Yes, I've traveled to Asia and even had sex with shemales there..

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Re:People have never thought on their own (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036906)

gps and car wrecks Lets hope we weed out some of humanity when they blindly follow their tech. Seriously though lets view it like viruses. There is no single virus that will wipe out humanity. We've grown too large. No matter the change, some where people will be isolated from it. Our tech reliance isn't going to affect us on a species level. This is a cultural issue.

Re:People have never thought on their own (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036962)

And how did the human beings see the world before?

Through these extra-stylish rose-tinted glasses. Get a pair free with every purchase of Vamosi's book!

Re:People have never thought on their own (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037024)

As the cliche goes knowledge is power. By the same token he who has the knowledge has the power. Like your post states with the spread of gadgets and the ability to chat with someone of another culture real time on the other side of the globe as a race it brings us closer together, it breaks down the societal borders that have been in place those thousands of years. It allows an outsider to see from the inside and no longer be rejected for being an outsider, because where you are visiting or those you are talking too, know as much about your culture as well.

Death by GPS (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036430)

Death by GPS [vote29.com] was the first example that came to mind.

Re:Death by GPS (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036524)

That's what I was thinking too, that a lot of people don't know how to use maps anymore because they have GPS giving them turn-by-turn instructions. And yet, really, I think even before GPS, most people weren't really good at using maps. So maybe not much has changed; except now people who were chronically lost have a chance of finding their way.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036656)

Yup. And those of us who do know how to read maps can find our locations much faster and choose alternate routes, or find interesting sites much easier.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036770)

My GPS has a "Sites of Interest" button.

Ok, I don't have a GPS. And while I'm not great at orienteering, I can read a road map and tell my basic direction with a little help from the Sun. The moss on the north side hasn't really worked out for me so well.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037044)

It is tough to feel the moss while traveling at 70MPH.

The Sun however moves pretty predictably.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037060)

People should also realize that no matter where they are, all main roads intersect with another main road.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036784)

What changed is that if you can't read a map you tend to know that you're going to get lost if you stray too far. Sure some people would anyways either intentionally or accidentally, but with the GPS it's a lot easier to get way off track if you don't know that it's broken or not working properly.

Consequently in the past it was much more likely that somebody would be lost as in took a wrong turn, but still relatively close to the intended route, whereas with GPS it's a lot easier for them to get much further away thinking that they're still on the correct path.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037090)

and in the 1990's GPS training was mandatory in the US army. even with the primitive GPS we had.

maps are always out of date, it's hard to orient yourself in a new area, drive through a new area, etc. on i-95 i took a detour a few times on i-195 or i-295, forget which. because the signs said to get to i-95 take this exit. when i could have gone straight to i-95 if i drove a few more exits down the highway.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037224)

No map could have helped you. You ran into that problem because i-95 North magically turns into i-295 South just past Princeton and then starts heading back down to Philadelphia. You'd have to take the exit to i-195 East and then take Exit 6 to get back on i-95 North, which is the New Jersey Turnpike at that point. I live in the area and I'm just figuring this out.

Re:Death by GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36037258)

If you weren't in Boy Scouts in the US you probably didn't know how to use a map and compass (seriously, orieteering isn't that hard but if you don't know the basics I could give you a compass and map, throw you in the wilderness and you'd still die). Now take a countour map, it's even harder to figure out, in the rain and poor light. How do you adjust for distance when you're going up or down an incline? Some of this stuff requires actual know-how and frankly few people had it even before GPS.

Re:Death by GPS (3, Informative)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036594)

Stupid people do stupid things. How many people do you think died back when they crossed those areas in a wagon? or in cars back in the 40-50's? People are no more stupid today then they were "back then" because of gadgets. It just makes "good" (i.e. sells papers) to print sensationalistic crap like that.

How many people died when the US was being settled? If you read books and accounts from that era, it was common for more knowledgeable people in the trading outposts and such to make fun of people heading up into the wilderness unprepared. This isn't "new" and is isn't because of "gadgets" stupid people get themselves killed all the time.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036712)

Though I've never came anything close to death, I have personally gotten lost due to bad GPS data. Not so bad that I couldn't find my way back to some place I knew, mind you. However, if I were driving out into Death Valley with the road getting rougher, I would probably just say "screw this GPS, it's wrong," turn around and go back the way I came. And then look at a real paper map, or at least get directions from one of the locals. I know better than to go traipsing off into Death Valley with no idea of where I'm going.

OTOH, being a technology expert, I happen to grok that even advanced tech like GPS and smartphones have their failure modes. Some people just put too much faith into something they don't understand.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037128)

Not to mention that they should have been prepared for anything, plenty of fresh water to drink, food to eat, blankets, a compass. Yeah I know it's alot for what is supposed to be a short trip across the desert by car, but what if the vehicle broke down? Ounce of prevention.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036726)

The neighbor kid still uses her GPS to get home from college. She's made the trip at least a dozen times.

It's about 120 miles. Maybe 3 turns. It's on the same major highway as the high school that she went to, just 110 miles further down the road.

I often wonder if she could do it without the GPS.

Re:Death by GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036874)

The neighbor kid still uses her GPS to get home from college. She's made the trip at least a dozen times. It's about 120 miles. Maybe 3 turns. It's on the same major highway as the high school that she went to, just 110 miles further down the road.

Wow, she commuted 110 miles to high school?!?

Re:Death by GPS (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037230)

Just because someone goes to college does not mean they are smart. My daughter has friends in college that are brain-dead stupid. She calls them Liberal Arts students... These are the same people that forget their combination to a lock and the password they use daily for 5 weeks straight.

Hell I have a Sister in Law that has 3 Masters Degrees and she can not keep a car from rolling over. 5 rollovers in 3 years. 3 of them in the summer/spring months on dry pavement.

Re:Death by GPS (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036780)

Just put the green one in your mouth, the blue one in your ear, and the red one in your butt...Or is it green one in your mouth? Anyway, the GPS lady will tell you.

People have always been stupid (5, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036452)

They just broadcast it to the world now and make it very obvious.

Re:People have always been stupid (1, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036606)

People have always been smart, stupid is the exception.
Most people who seem to be doing something stupid are:
A) Their Ignorance. - which can be fixed.
B) The observers ignorance - there are other factors you don't know about.

Re:People have always been stupid (2)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036756)

Q: What's the difference between intelligence and stupidity?

A: There's a limit to intelligence.

Re:People have always been stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036612)

"Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. -- Bible"
Or, more colloquially, "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

This is why I'm glad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036458)

that I'm on of the people that gets to decide what the gadgets show.

Maybe ... (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036480)

Maybe some people are getting mentally 'lazy'. I guess they could have said the same thing about all of the technology developed during the industrial revolution. I know that I'm certainly less apt to cut my grass "by hand" now that I have a nice power mower ... and that car sure comes in hand when I don't feel like carrying stuff home from the store.

Re:Maybe ... (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036636)

I think it's just that these people survive to adulthood to do stupid things now, instead of drowning the the mill pond.

Re:Maybe ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036708)

While I agree on the point gadgets make people dumber in many ways, I can't help but wonder how many people are dumb enough to buy a book detailing such a thing on their Kindle or iPad.

Partially true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036484)

While I agree with this premise... Those of us that are working on these gadgets are learning more than ever before. So while some people are getting dumber, some of us are increasing our intelligence.

not a bad thing (4, Interesting)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036490)

oooor.... we can maintain our intelligence, be educated (as in learn how to think rationally, not be indoctrinated), be reasonable, and use these tools to augment our natural intelligence do things that weren't possible 50 or 100 years ago.

it's up to each person to do this for themselves. complaining that "people can't think for themselves" doesn't really get you anywhere.

Re:not a bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036936)

oooor.... we can maintain our intelligence, be educated (as in learn how to think rationally, not be indoctrinated), be reasonable, and use these tools to augment our natural intelligence do things that weren't possible 50 or 100 years ago.

it's up to each person to do this for themselves. complaining that "people can't think for themselves" doesn't really get you anywhere.

A good example would be GPS. There are plenty of stupid people who blindly follow what GPS tells them. Then there are people who pay attention to where they are going, know how to read maps, and simply add GPS as yet another tool to make getting around easier. If you don't use your head, no amount of technology is going to help you. If you do use your head, technology will be your servant, not your master. Just my 200 Rp.

Re:not a bad thing (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037174)

I think common sense changes to fit our circumstances. For the most we all think that it is common sense that those around us are equal or that we have the right to believe as wish. Most kids probably do not have the common sense to know which foods they can and cannot eat in the forest, but do have the common sense to send an email. I think that common sense tells us that things cannot move arbitrarily fast, or change the velocity instantaneously. It is common sense that things get bigger, the supports are not going to hold if they only get bigger linearly or less. It is common sense that all objects for the most part fall at the about the same rate. It is common sense that when you changea tire, you tighten the bolts in a crosswise fashion. When you walk in the wood always step on fallen logs carefully, not over them.

And it is common sense not to listen complain the we have become dependent on technology because they do not know what technology is. Written communication using a fiber surface and pigments helped us move information from generation to generation freeing us to discover new things instead of rediscovering the old things. The simple machines allow us to trade time for force and build large structures. Precision machining allowed us to build commodity products. The reality is without industrial age technology most of the population dies young because natural common sense is not that good at keeping us alive. A newborn, dependent on the parents, was in danger because the parents did not have the common sense and that child was as likely to die before 10 as not. The average person did not have the common sense to keep themselves alive past 40 or 50, but those who did have common sense lived to be quite old, even by modern standards. So when we are complaining about technology and common sense, what we are actually doing is complaining that technology allowing people with less common sense to live longer. In the process, I think, we are being a bit arrogant in assuming that we have the common sense to not have died prior to 10 years old, and it is the others that is pulling the median down.

Re:not a bad thing (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037222)

You're right, but the problem is that there are more stupid people who will forgo doing what you suggest and will remain blissfully ignorant. An even bigger problem is that those people can also vote. Their choices for "leadership" can and will greatly hamper your personal quest to improve yourself by making sure that such dangerous things as chemistry sets and GPS units without the Idiot Chip installed are not available to the public.

Ya, right (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036494)

And the ancient Egyptians no doubt said the same when someone invented papyrus -- "kids these days don't know how to memorize things".

Bah. Not memorizing long winded tales leaves brain storage to remember other things, and papyrus memories don't suffer from the same bitrot as human memories. But those ancient old fogies didn't consider that any more than modern old fogies don't consider the advantages of new tech.

"Reading" & "Writing" (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036720)

I would be interested in Robert Vamosi thoughts on this subject, but I don't believe in this "writing" gadget that's caught on recently. It claims to be an accurate reflection of his ideas, but I'm not going to simply accept what it tells me.

Frankly, if I can't talk to him personally and discuss it, as humans have done for thousands of years before us, I'm allowing "reading" to do my thinking for me.

Re:Ya, right (3, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036930)

I'd say the issue is the thinking that if it's written down, I don't need to learn it. I can always refer to it later. Even more so with Smartphones and the Internet.

Knowing things helps you solve problems, create new things, etc. If people say, "If I need to know it, I'll just look it up" it may not be too far away that we don't know what to look up because we can't even make the basic connections between subjects.

Oh noes! The future is bad! (5, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036496)

Fundamental laws of physics:

1. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
2. Energy and momentum are conserved.
3. Every new technology must have an article by somebody talking about how it's going to ruin everything.

Evidence for #3 has been tested as far back as Socrates and Plato [wikipedia.org] . I have no doubt that at least some cave paintings are really an editorial about how fire is going to end the species: with fire to keep us warm, who is ever going to have sex again?

If the point of the article is to say, "Don't be an idiot"... did you really need to spread that advice over five page views?

Re:Oh noes! The future is bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036590)

Well, imagine all those ads on one page. Nope, that wouldn't do at all.

Re:Oh noes! The future is bad! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036608)

with fire to keep us warm, who is ever going to have sex again?

They were very close on that one!

I don't have time to read this article (2)

gosand (234100) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036500)

Does anyone have a podcast or ebook version of this article, I'm very interested in this topic.

so - (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036504)

You practice a skill. Then a tool comes along and you no longer have to practice. When the tool breaks you are no longer able to do the said skill by hand as well as you could before the tool came along.
I think the TFA is a tool.

YES THEY DO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036518)

Its the law of consumerism. You need it, must have it, now find an excuse to get it.

Medical technology and future generations (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036522)

One thing that I wonder about is how medical technology will affect the human genome. For example, in earlier centuries, women with narrow birth canals, and their babies, frequently died in childbirth. Now, the lives of such women (and their babies) are saved via Cesarian section, and the selection pressure against genetic variations (mutations) that produce narrow birth canals has been reduced. In future generations, how much effect will this have on the anatomy of the average woman? After ten, or fifty, or five hundred generations, might we be in a situation in which childbirth without Cesarian section is no longer possible?

Re:Medical technology and future generations (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036724)

Watch the movie "Gattaca". Social, religious, and moral objections aside I find it a very plausible "future" for human control of our genome. Whether we are "smart" enough as a race to control our own evolution(with a favorable outcome at least) is another discussion.

Re:Medical technology and future generations (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036912)

One thing that I wonder about is how medical technology will affect the human genome. For example, in earlier centuries, women with narrow birth canals, and their babies, frequently died in childbirth. Now, the lives of such women (and their babies) are saved via Cesarian section, and the selection pressure against genetic variations (mutations) that produce narrow birth canals has been reduced. In future generations, how much effect will this have on the anatomy of the average woman? After ten, or fifty, or five hundred generations, might we be in a situation in which childbirth without Cesarian section is no longer possible?

No, that will be decided by the lawyers.....

Back on topic - you making a few assumptions that don't necessarily hold. Narrow birth canal outlets can happen, but aren't especially common and more importantly are not the major reason for C-sections. Maternal deaths were typically due to 1) hemorrhage and 2) infection - neither one due much to genetics.

The broader question of what modern medicine is doing to change human genetics is harder to answer. Yes, we are keeping people alive that would not have reached sexual maturity in the 'olden days', but we're also preventing many deaths of otherwise healthy individuals that do become sexually (and in the case of humans, perhaps more importantly), socially active. Finally one has to be very careful ascribing evolutionary fitness to any given trait. It's common in the lay literature to suggest that some random trait (brain size, penis size, nostril size) improves evolutionary fitness and therefore was selected. Humans are fairly slow growing and haven't been around for all that long (in the geological time frame sense) - a lot of traits are carried along and not necessarily 'selected'. Anyway.

It's complicated.

It happened with literacy... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036536)

Learning to read and write completely destroyed our ability to remember things. I'd still call the invention of literacy a net positive.

you can't assume something is lost (3, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036546)

that never existed in the first place

"some of us no longer see the world as human beings have for thousands of years and simply accept whatever our gadgets show us"

LOL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_blind_leading_the_blind [wikipedia.org]

certain people have always blindly accepted what was in front of them, and certain other people looked around and challenged their own assumptions. the proportion between these classes of people is innate, a random spread, a constant of the human condition. so it always was, so it is, so it always will be

technology is not changing essential human nature

As opposed to accepting what other people tell you (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036558)

Prior to the advent of the communication age, the only way to disseminate information was for other people to tell you that information. Now it's people telling you that information through gadgets. I don't think Facebook is significantly different from gossiping at the village well or the office water cooler.

This? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036560)

Again?

No it isn't, and that comes from the logical fallacy that you aren't enjoying life if you aren't out in the real world.

"Convenience can cause vulnerabilities"
No shit. Security is, and always has been, about a balance between Convenience and safety. The balance move, can be changed with money, but it's there.

I can make you car 99.99999 % thief proof... but it would be damn inconvenient to get to.

The whole article is a FUD generator to sell a book.

Fear Technology! (0)

prichardson (603676) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036562)

Blah blah technology is evil blah blah. This generation clearly is suffering from blah blah more than any other. Humanity is in danger blah blah.

My favorite part is the end:

So no need to throw your iPhone off a cliff - just yet.

What are we supposed to take away from this? Let's all be unspecifically fearful of future technology.

KARMA WHORE
printable version [silicon.com] /KARMA WHORE

Re:Fear Technology! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036940)

Typical old technophobic person talking there.

Apparently all technologically advanced tools = "gadget".

And somehow the matter of people not knowing their tools at all, or being just being plain stupid in a general sense is of course a problem of the technology. Before computers, everyone obviously always was careful, and properly equipped and properly trained for the situations they went in.

People thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036574)

"people are increasingly unable to think for themselves"

*looks back at history* oh wait

I blame literacy! been a problem for millenia! (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036578)

Wasn't it Aristotle or one of the other great Greek thinkers who complained that writing things down was eroding society and people's capacity to be fully fledged thinking beings?

Haven't humans always blamed new technologies and new ways from eroding our abilities, don't people always look back to a mythical Golden Age? (which invariably seems to be set at two generations ago...)

Extended Warranty! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036586)

My gadgets need these!

Gadgets enable those without common sense (1)

Rick Genter (315800) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036614)

I don't think people are losing common sense. I think that new technology enables people who never had common sense to try to accomplish things that they wouldn't have even tried before.

These Gadgettess do Perverte the Republice (5, Insightful)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036630)

It is with great pleasure that I read the learned words of this amiable scholar, Mr. Vamosi. It is thus prooved that the Gadgette may be more of a threate to the mind of our Republice than the gallopping steamship or railroad loco-motive. Tell me, in what respect may the Gadgette hope to improve upon the brain given us by our creator? Did He make our human brains to be cleverer than himself, and master over Him? If ye say "No," then how can ye say that we are then so wise and skillful as to make a Gadgette to be clever than ourselves and master over us? This is as ridiculous as the old familiar question: "Can our Lord and Creator microwave a Burrito so scaldingly hot that even He Himself cannot taste of it?" Nay, presume not that the creator (whether our Heavenly master or our own intellect) can ever be led by his creation into any realm except that of the Doomed Abyss. Thus, Gentlemen of the Republice, cast ye Gadgettes into the sea -- lest they hang about they neck as a great millstone -- and drag ye down to the depths!!

Not sure I completely agree (4, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036650)

I don't think it's gadgets degrading common sense, it's our physiology working against us; the human body really doesn't do more than it has to. If you don't use muscle it goes away, if you drink too much coffee you're basically dysfunctional before your first cup of the day, I don't remember half as many phone numbers as I used to since I stated carrying an address book, etc. Those gadgets just provide a gateway for our minds and bodies to seek the path of least resistance.

Stupid people used to die young. (4, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036674)

Stupid people used to die young before they had raised off-spring. Break a leg due to stupidity before germ theory and penicillin and that could be it for you. This meant that not only did nature "select" for "common sense", it gave incentives to those with poor common sense to learn those important life lessons. These days you can be an absolute moron with no ability to understand personal responsibility and have access to amazing health care for free and get government handouts to house and feed you (at least in most of the West apart from America).

It isn't that humans have evolved significantly in the last century or two it is that those who would have been dead are now sticking around to lower the average. They are also generally failing to give their children values that allow them to do anything but barely survive inside societies safety nets (hence generational unemployment, and voters that vote for bread and circuses).

Re:Stupid people used to die young. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036764)

Stupid people used to die young. Now they're Tweeting every moment of their vapid lives.

Not thinking for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036688)

The same people that weren't thinking for themselves before, still aren't thinking for themselves now. Technology isn't breeding stupid people. Stupid people are breeding stupid people.

A big misnomer (3, Insightful)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036696)

"Common sense" is a big misnomer. Sense has never been common. Most people have none, and did even before gadgets.

Re:A big misnomer (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036722)

"Commonsense has trampled down many a gentle genius whose eyes had delighted in a too early moonbeam of some too early truth; commonsense has back-kicked dirt at the loveliest of queer paintings because a blue tree seemed madness to its well-meaning hoof; commonsense has prompted ugly but strong nations to crush their fair but frail neighbors the moment a gap in history offered a chance that it would have been ridiculous not to exploit."
— Vladimir Nabokov

Things change (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036698)

Gadgets might be causing us to take in a lot more information and spend less time digesting and processing that information. The catch is that we can't really define a cause so easily. For example in America our ability to use the English language is in a huge decline. Popular entertainment has caused a severe degradation in our ability to understand sentences an paragraphs, a lowering in vocabulary, and a detachment from the importance of detailed thinking. The use of gadgets may simply be a continuation of that process. Radio and television have depended on getting the least skilled among us to absorb their content. Broadcasting for the intellectual elite does little to support sales of products. As usual lowest pull the greatest downward in their direction.

Old Hat (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036730)

Haven't we seen people argue this for just about every invention created?

Books, TV, Movies, Music, Computers, Vibrators...

I mean do these authors live in a vacuum and think their ideas are "fresh and new"?

Transhumanism, Film at Eleven (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036748)

"Vamosi writes, some of us no longer see the world as human beings have for thousands of years and simply accept whatever our gadgets show us."

Welcome to transhumanism, film at eleven.

Hint: This is a good thing. Writing did the same thing; gave us an external storage mechanism. For the most part, we do not lament the loss of oral tradition.

History is full of this. (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036754)

Technological advances of this nature leverage human abilities allowing human productivity to increase.

It is in large measure how civilization advances. When the moldboard plow was invented humans were able to plant more land. This made more food available and hunger decreased. Yeah people probably became weaker as a result of having to do less grunt labor. But was the overall effect bad?

        "Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking."

        --Alfred North Whitehead

Amiga 500 (4, Insightful)

retech (1228598) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036794)

My first computer was an Amiga 500. And, honestly, I was awestruck for the first week of ownership. I felt like I was living the sci-fi fantasy I'd had just 10 yrs prior. An affordable tech that was simply amazing to me at that point.

I remember drawing on it and thinking: "The generation that comes after me will be like gods of technology. They'll have been born with this in their hands and it will bring them to new levels of intelligence, tech and opportunity."

This is just not the case now 25+yrs later. I work a great deal with teens teaching them tech from an art and theater end. What I find is that they know how to use the front end with incredible alacrity and skill. However once that tech has a glitch or fails them they're dumb founded. Yes, I am generalizing, but I've found an overwhelming majority lack even the basic sense to trouble shoot. At best they just let it sit until someone fixes it. At worst I've seen them toss cell phones and laptops in the dumpster because it was broke. (And I was able to retrieve it and fix it later.) It's that lack of trouble shooting ability that is the key to me. They've never been taught to do that. It's not just the tech that is different for them vs. me it's the societal thinking. You do not fix stuff now and keep using it. You toss it out and buy new. And that has deprived them of the desire, curiosity and ability to think creatively and trouble shoot.

While the complexity of the tech has grown since my first introduction, with an almost perfect inverse the ignorance of that same tech's fundamental workings has grown. Your results may vary, but this seems to be the same experience with a broad scope of my friends and colleagues as well. I personally do not see it getting any better. It's created wonderful consumers and that's just what the market wants.

Re:Amiga 500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36037018)

I blame tech support for this;
Our culture expects to be able to call someone and have them fix the problem rather than taking responsibility for the upkeep of their expensive and complex tools.

It would be much better for society if the concept of tech support died in a fire.

The kids are alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036804)

But I am having trouble with this damn GPS - it keeps sending me into the lake!

I think Cicero Said it best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036818)

"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." — Marcus Tullius Cicero

uhm, no (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036836)

some of us no longer see the world as human beings have for thousands of years

Make that about a quarter of a million years (as modern humans), and many millions of years before that (as our pre-human ancestors).

When you're driving down the street and you see a pedestrian, you usually snap to it immediately because our ancestors have needed to detect the human gait for millions of years. But when someone is on a skateboard or scooter you don't snap so fast, because it doesn't make the right neurons fire.

Similarly, GR and QM seem bizarre to us because they operate on scales of time, space, energy, and gravity that our ancestors never had to deal with, but on scales that they did, we do OK - we can catch that baseball[*] even though it hasn't been around for a couple of hundred years, because it's still within the scope of what we've evolved to deal with.

If gagetry is a problem for any reason other than mere distraction, it needs to be viewed in terms of our evolved cognitive abilities, not on "thousands of years" of habit or tradition.

[*] Well, *I* can't, but presumably some of you can.

Losing our grasp on common sense? (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036858)

My goodness, yes. My father in law has no concept of common sense, thinking critically or of using his own memory to answer questions anymore. He just Googles everything and then reads off the first search result that catches his eye. Don't even get me started on Snopes.

Car Keys (4, Interesting)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036868)

A friend of mine once couldn't lock his car - the button on the key wouldn't lock the car. He tried various things like waiting for 30 minutes to see if the car would lock itself, etc.

Eventually he was talking to a friend on the phone telling her about his situation ('cos he couldn't leave the car unlocked), and she asked him if he tried turning the key in lock...!

So yes, gadgets do affect our common sense. We get used to using a gadget to do something that we forget how to do that action without the gadget. Are we fast becoming a race of needing a specific tool to do a specific job...?

Tweeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036876)

I'd post comments but I have several urgent tweets waiting

Blind wandering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036896)

I've noticed an increase in people wandering blindy, eyes glued to a phone. Maybe not a lack of common sense, but certainly a dumb and irritating thing to be doing.

Re:Blind wandering (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36036946)

But such wandering with eyes focused on some screen means people are then not observing the world around them, thereby missing its frequent beauty and many of the lessons it affords.

Some People Are Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36036920)

Just because we have a technology that can cover for their stupidity to some degree doesn't mean we shouldn't use it. The idiot that drives off a cliff because the GPS told them to turn left, well they probably couldn't have found the cliff without the GPS but they were always idiots. They would have driven off another metaphorical cliff somewhere else in their due time. Get over it.

We are evolving.. (5, Interesting)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 2 years ago | (#36037006)

This may become long and drawn out..but I am speaking from a different perspective than most I would think.

I have been a PC tech/web developer for around 15 years. I kept up with the latest gizmos and gadgets, technology and toys for a long, long time. My last stint was support at a University. My wife and I got the "get back to basics" fever, quit our jobs, bought some raw land and are homesteading 4 acres on the outskirts of nowhere.

In that change also came a paradigm shift about technology. While we have to use our laptops for our web business, more and more we are wandering away from the screens and towards the dirt. What I find is that the less time you spend with "a screen" the more you come to understand and envelope yourself with the real world..the world of dirt, the world of nature, the real world you cant touch on flickr and cant smell on facebook.

We as a society are evolving into a clinically sterile, see here is nature on the screen, whats a shovel people.

I am not arguing that technology is bad, merely making the observation that reality is changing for most people. That we as a group are living our lives more and more through screens and by dilution less and less in the sun. While the irony of me posting this here does not elude me, I will be shoveling up some garden and doing some garden work shortly. I hope you would have some real world to balance off "the screens" as well because to me, the human condition is not a clinically sterile parade of screens and gizmos.. it is about the sights, smells, grit, efforts and rewards you can only get once you run out of batteries.

Tron quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36037188)

Dr. Walter Gibbs: Ha, ha. You've got to expect some static. After all, computers are just machines; they can't think.
Alan Bradley: Some programs will be thinking soon.
Dr. Walter Gibbs: Won't that be grand? Computers and the programs will start thinking and the people will stop.

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