It seems there are quite a few films that are actually dystopian stories about technology gone awry. I was initially torn between discussing Terminator where we make the machines so smart, they take over, or Idiocracy, where the machines do everything, people become dependent on them, and as a result the people become stupid. I think I’ll choose Idiocracy. Idiocracy is, by far, a more likely scenario, though let’s hope not. In the movie, a modern man of average intelligence is sent into the future (accidentally) and becomes mankind’s last hope to save the failing crops. Turns out he’s the smartest guy on the planet because everyone else has learned to let the machines think for them.
It does beg one to question what would happen if we relied on technology too much.
If children only learn to use a calculator, but never learn to do math in their heads or to solve problems on paper – what would happen if a calculator wasn’t available or, let just say – calculators no longer worked? If we only teach children to type, but never really teach them to write cursive or write by hand, what happens if they’re away from a computer or for some reason computers stopped working?
Not only that, but these days, with everyone having access to search engines and information at their fingertips, everyone thinks they’re an expert. (I’ve run across this attitude a great deal.) Will people stop learning and retaining information because they no longer have to? What happens when that instant access to information disappears? Then what? What happens when all of our virtual libraries break down? With big agricultural corporations dealing with all our food production, what happens when their machines stop running and people have to farm to feed themselves and their families?
These are very real concerns and perhaps it’s an important point to teach our students (and ourselves) that we can’t rely solely on technology without running the possibility of losing valuable survival skills along the way.