From Calculators to iPads, Tech Makes us Lazy

A child who shall remain nameless was recently exposed to a 1,000 piece puzzle after growing up playing games on computers and said the following: “I wish this puzzle was on an iPad so I could just pay to get hints.” And it hit me – all this technology needs to be turned on its head from time-to-time so we don’t become for lack of a better word lazier.

In high school I used a calculator a lot and as a result, my math skills got rusty. After scoring lower than I would have liked on one of my college placement exams I decided to write a computer program to turn the tables on tech. The concept of the algorithm was simple – it would spit out random numbers ask me to either multiply or divide them. I timed myself to see how fast I could do it. Several times a day I would go into the high school’s computer room and play this game and my placement scores did improve dramatically in-part thanks to this program.

Phil Edholm who is currently a partner with TMC on the WebRTC Conference & Expo said at a conference years ago that computers have actually changed the human brain to become interrupt-driven referring to how a computer operating system will stop a processor from doing something to do something perhaps more important. Phil pointed out how computers are changing us – perhaps for the better. The downside to tech has been and will continue to be creating a bunch of lazy couch-potatoes who need hints to get through life.

Then there is search and Wikipedia – on the one hand instant access to information is the ultimate democratizing process – everyone has the same information in an instant. Two decades ago, you needed parents rich enough to afford a $4,000+ encyclopedia if you wanted so much instant information.

I think back to the program I wrote and wonder if technology itself isn’t the answer to the problems it causes. We need more programs which train our brains to think and solve problems. I don’t think as a society we will be disconnecting any time soon – if anything we seem to use multiple devices at a time. Somehow we need to take time from our everyday tasks and use programs like computer chess to give our brains a much-needed tune-up and keep us sharp.

Disclosure – I am CEO of TMC


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