21W.041J Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Luddite, Chipotle

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Two-Minute Letter to Luddites
Is technology ruining basic human interaction? • Are we too reliant on machines? •
Should we get rid of technology? • Many people condemn technology. People claim
technology is hurting our youth; it is making things too easy. Too easy? This reasoning
baffles me. Technology makes once-impossible tasks possible. Without the calculator,
even the brightest mathematician would be doing remedial calculations. To criticize our
generation’s reliance on technology is to miss the benefits that technology has to offer.
So many people fear technology and its influences on society. What these people, the
Luddites, lack is a holistic view. Their arguments against technology are based merely
on the downside of social media. But in reality technology is a democratizing force.
Corrupt and oppressive governments have been brought down by people who were
finally given a voice thanks to technology.
I have seen firsthand how technology helps make daily life easier. My brother Patrick
has Fragile-X Syndrome, a condition that results in cognitive impairment. Much like a
five year old, he needs to be entertained constantly, and perseverates on favorite topics.
Patrick can use an iPad to satisfy his high need for stimulation. For him, the iPad is
empowering and intuitive. The iPad has helped Patrick develop improved motor skills
he can find a scene from any one of his favorite movies in just seconds. The iPad also
allows him, someone who lacks the fine motor skills to hold a pencil, the joy of
communicating by e-mail.
Some people are frustrated by technology. They say it consumes valuable face-to-face
time, but in actuality it enables long distance relationships. A soldier in Afghanistan can
see his child using Skype. A sunset on the beach can become a lasting memory with the
click of a camera. A life could be made easier with the touch of an iPad.
Humans are naturally resistant to change. Progress and change are byproducts of
revolutions. Progress is inevitable, and so its change. I challenge you to change—even
just change your chipotle order.
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