All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of MachinesSpending a few nights in the Amazonas I was mightily impressed by our Ecuadorian guide. I'm fascinated by human intuition and curious about the effects technology has had on our natural instincts and abilities. With his experience in the jungle and routine habits formed in a job, our guide was able to spot monkeys, frogs and tiny mushrooms with ease in the dense forest.
The hunters’ ability to navigate vast stretches of the barren Arctic terrain, where landmarks are few, snow formations are in constant flux, and trails disappear overnight, has amazed explorers and scientists for centuries. The Inuit’s extraordinary way-finding skills are born not of technological prowess—they long eschewed maps and compasses—but of a profound understanding of winds, snowdrift patterns, animal behavior, stars, and tides.
One of his most incredible feats was to steer the boat in pitch black darkness for 15 minutes after a night hike. I told him I'd recently read an article in 'The Atlantic' that referenced the astounding prowess of Inuit tribes and how recent forays using modern technology like GPS had dulled their abilities.
I quizzed him on his approach and how he viewed his own skill navigating the waters blind. He replied "To me, its just like a Video Game".
|Like this. Except in pitch black.|
All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines- Comedians Pete Holmes and Eddie Pepitone on the phone as a "Life Companion"
Whether it’s a pilot on a flight deck, a doctor in an examination room, or an Inuit hunter on an ice floe, knowing demands doing. One of the most remarkable things about us is also one of the easiest to overlook: each time we collide with the real, we deepen our understanding of the world and become more fully a part of it. While we’re wrestling with a difficult task, we may be motivated by an anticipation of the ends of our labor, but it’s the work itself—the means—that makes us who we are. Computer automation severs the ends from the means. It makes getting what we want easier, but it distances us from the work of knowing. As we transform ourselves into creatures of the screen, we face an existential question: Does our essence still lie in what we know, or are we now content to be defined by what we want? If we don’t grapple with that question ourselves, our gadgets will be happy to answer it for us.
- Comedian Louis C.K. on what Smartphones are taking away