General Question

Patty_Melt's avatar

Are we leaving a legacy, or leading them to self slaughter?

Asked by Patty_Melt (12354points) October 4th, 2018

Forever plus one week, humans have been trying to make advancements so things can be better for future generations.
We have at last achieved strides so magnanimous, our offspring can shop using one finger, trash talk with nearly every country on the globe without leaving Starbucks.
Micromini whatsahoosits and stronger than steel thingamajigs are everywhere.
Have we achieved what every generation has strived to do, and made everything spectacular for future generations, or have we enabled them to be hapless, hopeless clods who can’t accomplish anything if their electronics fail?

ALERT this question is not political in nature, and any political slant posted will be flagged.

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27 Answers

josie's avatar

Here is what worries me.
In the past when civilizations met set backs or catastrophes, their records allowed their legacy to continue. These have historically been written records on stones or vellum or something that would survive the ravages of time.
But now, everything is on some sort of media that requires technology to read it.
What happens if some catastrophe occurs, and the electronic devices required to read the records don’t work anymore, or nobody knows how to use them, and those records become unretreivable.
Humanity will essentially have to start all over from the cognitive revolution forward. More than 10,000 years.
That sucks.

johnpowell's avatar

So let us say that everyone died tomorrow and the slate was wiped clean. Everyone except those people that were born on Sept 26 2000. There were no remnants of the future. Just twigs and rocks, but everyone had the knowledge of what was possible.

You would know what a iPhone is but not a actual iPhone to reverse engineer.

I would bet that rowdy bunch of 18 year olds would be able to recreate our technology a hell of a lot faster than we did the first time around.

notsoblond's avatar

I just want to say this is a great question. I look forward to more responses.

Adagio's avatar

I fear the result of all this technology.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I agree with ^^^^^ @Adagio , we have become so dependant on this wonderful technology that most can’t seem to survive without it.

ucme's avatar

One thing is certain, we live in a generation where they are driven by social media & selfie obssessed snowflakes.
The world is far too sensitive where the pc brigade raise their entitled head, heard this week that students at manchester university have voted to ban clapping on campus because it causes offence, they now favour jazz hands as a way of showing group approval…-WOW!!

ragingloli's avatar

You could have said the same about any technological invention in the past 2000 years that made things easier to do at the expense of manual expertise, from aquaeducts to automobiles and pocket calculators.
This is just another variation of the 6000 year old “kids these days” crap.

seawulf575's avatar

I read the book Future Shock by Alvin Tofler a while back. It was written in the early 1970’s. The premise of the book was the impact technological advances have on society. This is not a fictional book, by the way. He started the book by pointing out that mankind has been around about 800 generations and that 99% of all inventions/discoveries have happened in the last 2. He then goes on to identify how many of the changes have altered us as a people and as a society. One example I liked was the Barbie doll. When Barbie was first created, children had dolls that they held on to forever. They would hand them down to their kids. Mattel came out with a marketing plan for Barbie…trade in your old doll and get a brand new Barbie doll. That simple move had the effect of changing the importance of keeping things nice and taking care of them. If you have an old one, you can just get a new one. That led to a whole throw-away society. Remember paper clothing? That was an offshoot.
I think all the stuff we have today can be good, but I don’t think people fully understand the impacts of one advancement before it is outdated and replaced by something else that we don’t fully understand.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We will continue to advance until some catastrophic problem occurs that will set things back significantly .
Metals will be stronger and lighter. Thingamjigs will be faster, smaller, smarter, cheaper, and more widespread. Until some insurmountable, planet wide shortage occurs.
Cobalt is needed for magnets; lithium for batteries; helium for manufacturing; other elements are needed for yet to be invented alloys. Something will run out. And when that happens the hoarders who kept their old iPhone 500s will smile.
Hopefully there will be researchers, engineers, and economists predicting the shortages and working on alternatives.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It isn’t the threat of technological failures that worry me so much as the inevitable consequences of the basic flaws defining us since before we were cave dwellers. If anything, it’s the inability to cope with the fact that our technological prowess is unable to progress at a pace to overcome the catastrophes resulting from the flaws in ourselves. If someone had told me in the 60s when I was in high school that some 50 years in the future our national policies would revolve around denying incontrovertible scientific facts, I would not have believed anything as absurd as a Renaissance of stupidity plausible in a country racing its way toward the moon. But LOOK at us. And you can flag this answer if you choose, but the contrast between Kennedy & Trump to me says it all.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Self slaughter imo. Many people are so coddled by tech and society, they have lost the knowledge to survive.

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ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Provided we don’t have some major catastrophy in the next 50 years or so I’m on the side that technology will basically free us.
I do see some bumps though, our energy consumption is the one that concerns me most and the next is population. Both problems can be resolved with responsible technology use and progress. Right now, the fragile nature of the power grid and increasing reliance on computer based systems to operate it makes me nervous and in the literal sense.

LostInParadise's avatar

There will be a grand analog rebellion. People will realize how devoid of meaning our digital universe has become. They will yearn for a return to nature. Mechanical analog devices will be chosen over their analog counterparts.

Or is it just me?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I must admit as deep as I am in tech the log cabin lifestyle is where my heart is.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ARE you kidding me That’s the other thing. All of the really dire problems confronting humanity can in the end be defined as population problems. It is surprising such a truth can linger unacknowledged as we smash headfirst into walls of intractable difficulties. Population should be number one on everyone’s list. It should have been there the moment it was understood that there was no possible chance that all of our mind boggling numbers might lead a tolerable existence on our over stressed planet. The catastrophes HAVE ARRIVED. You can see the opening phases in our hurricane seasons and the migrant crisis.

tinyfaery's avatar

This attitude has come with every new generation, every new cultural shift in life, every new invention that changes our every day lives and our psyches. Most people of older generations cannot fathom living a new way and like to think they had it right.

If some catastrophic event occurs most people are not going to survive anyway, so moot point. The thing with young people is they are more adaptable, they find it easier to learn and change. Look at all humans have lived through, we have survived and flourished. There is no reason to think that our basic drives are altered in such a way that our instinct to survive at all costs is irreparably harmed.

seawulf575's avatar

@tinyfaery That is partly true, except it is to the point that it doesn’t even really have to be a catastrophic event. We just survived Hurricane Florence (I’m in coastal NC). My adult children (30s) were having a really hard time with some of the basics of planning ahead and preparing. In the end, we would have survived but it could have been a lot less comfortable. And when society loses power for a few days, it starts getting really squirrelly. And those are the problems. The normal goes away and people don’t know how to deal with the unusual.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yes, but over time, you readjust. In L.A. everyone is supposed to be ready for an earthquake, but pretty much no one is. We can seek out the information needed via technology even if it fails after the event itself.

And I was thinking a worldwide catastrophic event.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@stanleybmanly We have not seen a real catastrophe yet. The tsunami that killed over 100,000 people years back was close but we have mostly seen inconveniences and little bumps in the road. Yellowstone blowing its top a major solar storm or a major impact would be more of what I’m talking about

stanleybmanly's avatar

The slow moving catastrophes can’t match an asteroid impact or super volcano when it comes to scaring us to action. But because they do creep along, we are allowed to be immersed in the middle of them without recognizing them for what they are. We’re like the frog in the pot that gets cooked without ever noticing that the water temperature is rising. I mean just think about how it is possible for the United States to withdraw from the Paris climate accords as unprecedented record busting Hurricanes destroy Puerto Rico, Texas and the Carolinas?

Patty_Melt's avatar

Fantastic thoughts, but somewhere along the activity here, thinking got streamlined, and devolved to surviving a catastrophe.
I thought of this question when I saw some kids on TV with a payphone. There was a quarter on the shelf. They had one child at a time in the room. Each child was asked to describe how the phone worked, and were given the opportunity to make a call.
One girl specifically was incredulous the cord was so short. Lol. One boy guessed you put in the quarter, pull the coin lever to activate it, then make your call.
One girl listened politely while the adult explained What to do, and said, “that’s too much work.”
A few ranted how after all that work, and money, and having to stand right there to use it, ALL it could do is make a call.

It got me to thinking, on the one hand, we say often and about everything, I want to make things better for future generations. On the other hand, we get jealous, and grumpily state, they didn’t have that when I was young.
I feel like we have moved forward in great strides in areas of speed, accuracy, and comfort. Can we count on that being enough, and research focusing more earnestly on medicine, ecology, and population?
I love that there are now surgeries done that no surgeon need put hands in the patient. There is great room for more though.

Also, I have observed a thing about technological results.
More and more kids are remembering less. Also, what they do remember is the steps they take to get results. They don’t commit phone numbers or addresses to memory. Their devices do that.
When my daughter was in primary school, if she asked how to spell a word, I made her get a dictionary. At first I helped her understand the starting point for finding a word. How does the beginning sound. Eventually she could look words up herself. Now spellchecker does it for her, and sometimes spellchecker is wrong. Although she hates that I made her go to such lengths, and with other things too, she sometimes marvels at how helpless her friends are in how to research a problem and find solutions.
That is the basis of research.
I am seeing changes not by generation, but by decade, and sometimes by year.
If our youth are losing their capacity for problem solving, will the things which really count fall by the wayside? Will the advances which require research and application of theory become so unpopular they basically shut down?

Lots of great comments here.
Thanks to all who used their thinking caps. (is that a thing of the past?)
Any more thoughts?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Our youth are still solving problems, they’re just different problems. That said I do think we will see the Flynn effect start to trend the other way in coming generations.

seawulf575's avatar

Had a guy that worked for me a few years ago. Young guy. He had a series of events at work where he just plain made dumb mistakes. A procedure in hand giving him step by step actions to take and he was making errors. At one point we were looking to get rid of him. HR and Legal suggested we speak with the company psychiatrist. He told us that the guy might be suffering from a thing they have been seeing with the newer generations. They have been raised in an environment where everything is flash, flash, flash. Push a button and things happen. Video games that have actions that change all the time. videos on TV that flash scene after scene. What the Psych told us was that with an increasing number of younger folks (about the age of this guy) they are capable of multi-tasking like crazy. But if you ask them to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes, they just can’t do it. Their minds will wander and they will not focus on what they are supposed to focus on. He told us this guy might never be able to perform tasks that take more than 5 minutes without error.

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Strauss's avatar

@Patty_Melt your stronger than steel thingamajigs are looking good in your micromini whatsahoosits!

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