Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sharp Tools, Dull Minds & Thinking Magic

I was reading Nicholas Carr's The Glass Cage: Automation and Us when I came across this passage:
"Modern [applications] are getting 'helpful' enough that at times I feel like an [application] operator than a programmer," writes Vivek Haldar, a veteran software developer with Google. "The behavior all these tools encourage is not 'think deeply about your code and write it carefully,' but 'just write a crappy first draft of your code, and then the tools will tell you not just what's wrong with it, but also how to make it better" (78).
Like the programming tools mentioned above, "applications automate many tricky and time-consuming chores" (78). Even though I know how to create a reference from scratch, I used  to create the following citation:

 Carr, Nicholas. The Glass Cage: Automation and Us. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. Print. 

Why not? It's easier and I don't have to waste time on the nit-picky stuff. Haldar draws this "verdict: 'Sharp tools, dull minds'" (78).

I remember hearing how calculators would make us lazy when I was a tot in school. But we wouldn't take back the calculator from education these days, would we? Students are now free to move onto more practical applications of mathematics since calculators have liberated them from memorizing times tables.

But reading Nicholas Carr's book reminded me of the time, early one morning, a student asked me, "When will the library open?"

I replied, "In five minutes."

For some reason, the student then asked, "How many seconds is that?"

I paused for a moment and then said, "300."

The student was shocked: "How did you do that? How did you calculate that in your head?"


Image credits:
Artificial intelligence. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 28 Jan 2015.

Magicians at the Carnival in Berlin, 1836 . Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 28 Jan 2015.

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