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Main | Do you have a backup (book)? »
Thursday
Jan112018

Future predictions at odds

 

Is technology mankind's salavation or its doom?

It seems like everytime I open a newspaper or link from a social networking site, I am confronted with some form of prognositcation related to technology and both its immediate and long range impact oh the human condition. And these predictions are often diametrically opposed. For example:

  • The automation of jobs will lead to mass unemployment and a further increase in the income gap; or automation of jobs will fill the roles of rapidly retiting baby boomers and free workers from mundane tasks, giving them time to pursue creative pursuits.
  • All children need technology skills like coding to thrive in tomorrow's economy; or tech skills are highly overrated and we need instead to be developing interpersonal skillls, empathy and creativity.
  • Schools are being improved with technology permitting personalization and motivation; or education is being destroyed by technology, off-loading what should be professional, human tasks to programmed instruction.
  • The Internet is the death knell of libraries; or libraries are more important than ever in helping users understand and use technologies that may be new to them and by providing critical venues for face-to-face interactions.

The dichotomies are not as simple, of course, as my examples sugget and most of these predictions have "both and" discussions waiting to happen.

Sadly, I often feel the victim of social media's use of click-bait in accessing these articles. Just what are qualifications of people writing these predictions? Are they doing it to guide and inform? Or simply to generated revenue via clicks? Who does Buzzfeed and Edsurge and New York Times hire as writers and what are their qualifications to pontificate and what may be their unstated biases? And how, exactly you define bias, anyway?

The ability to select, analyze and evaluate information, a long-standing goal of information literacy units and the librarians behind them has never been more important - or more difficult.

I like to think of myself as a critical user of information and ideas. But increasingly wonder if I am up to the task of knowing if Wall-E or The Terminator is what the future holds. And if I can do anything about the direction except keep my fingers crosssed.

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