Straight from the Moleskine this morning. Last week, a friend asked me to identify twenty questions/issues about computers that thinking young people should consider during their lifetime.
Outside, the grey sky drops tears onto my impervious jacket, the gusts sighing, groaning in-between the stately brick buildings. My fellow students are sighing, crying, but there is a lot more pain elsewhere.
This morning, I asked a Nepalese friend,
So, the political situation in Nepal isn't too fun right now, eh?
He grimaced, shook his head violently, and yelled at me.
I shouldn't have phrased my question so lightly. After all, many of his countrymen are dying every day from the oppression of the Nepalese government, from the terrorism of the Maoists, from the poverty and sorrow of the third world. Nepal is a chaotic tangle of bad blood, of heavings, sighs, and tears of a yearning people, of greed, of power, and Everest. Five O'clock curfew imposed on farmers. Step outside, and --bang -- a hole in your head. Light a candle, and decades of ballistics research put out the human spark. Wear the wrong clothes, and they'll be raked, tattered by semiautomatic fire. At least the clothes survive.
Do Nepalese peasants care about computers? Does it matter so long as the Sherpas keep guiding Western tourists up, up, up the adventurous mountains, so long as a mug of hot chocolate awaits us at the bottom?
Twenty Questions (in no particular order)
- Is easier the same as better? Which is better: a hand-written or typed paper? A screen presentation or a discussion?
- How do computers affect my abilities? (as in Television->ADD) Do they weaken me? Can they strengthen my abilities?
- How does the computer affect my relationships?
- How do computers affect my time management?
- How do computers affect the rich, the poor, the disadvantaged, and their connection with each other?
- Can/do you control your computer? If not, who does?
- How can you use a computer to your best advantage?
- Are some things best done without computers?
- Are there some things computers should never do?
- Is your identity inside you or inside a computer? Can someone else be you?
- How does computer entertainment (games, movies, music) affect you? Are these better or worse than entertainment before 20th century technology?
- The computer industry is based on promises and customer dissatisfaction. What role for the computer would you be content with?
- Do computers tell us truth? What do all those statistics mean?
- Is saving time an advantage? Do computers make our life easier/less stressful/simpler?
- Can/should computers teach children? If so/not, how?
- At what age should children be given access to computers?
- Computers and robots often reduce the need for human labor. Is this good?
- Do we trust computers to be reliable? What tasks should only computers be trusted with? Are there tasks for which we never should trust computers?
- What makes a computer better than something else (even another computer)?
- Music industry computers predict which songs will be hits. The computers guess correctly. The music industry uses these computers to choose artists. What does this say about humanity? What does this say about computers? Is this a good thing?
- Will becoming a cyborg empower or weaken you? Will it give you more independence or take away individuality? Must you wear computers to be a cyborg?
UpdaTe: In this age of computers, I still can't count right. There are twenty-one questions here.