Don’t Become a Robot
30 September 2011
Kevin Kelly comments on a book by Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget. This is a lesson of which we should all take heed.
The central argument of Jaron Lanier’s intelligent and argumentative book, You Are Not a Gadget, is that technology wants us to become more like technology itself — and this is a bad thing. Jaron believes that as technology advances humans tend to make themselves more machine-like and less human. For instance, he claims that we tend to alter our behavior in a non-desirable way in order to use poorly designed computers, today’s internet, and many hi-tech gadgets. We start to think like a machine in order to use a machine. More worrisome, we may become dumber in order to use dumb machines. Maybe we speak slower, or use simpler language. Or maybe we restrict our emotions and freedoms so that a computer can read us. Perhaps we accept that we should produce things for free because the internet “wants” things to be free. Jaron sees this as a long slippery slope as we make ourselves into gadget-beings. But he warns, “you are not a gadget.”