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Our Dependence on Technology

  1. Feb 3, 2014 #1


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    Does anyone feel like we're becoming too dependent on technology?

    The other day I didn't have my cell phone with me and I realized I didn't know my mother's phone number :redface:; nowadays phones allow us to "touch" a name, or even say, "Call mom". It was a profound and embarrassing moment after which I started thinking about the subtleties of technology dependence.

    I spoke with my wife about it when she got home later that night and expressed my desire to someday learn how to raise animals and grow food. Don't worry, I didn't reason my way into a doomsday prepper mindset, but with so much of what we do and depend on being inextricably attached to technology, how resilient are we as a species should we someday lose the ability to use it?
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
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  3. Feb 3, 2014 #2

    D H

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    Where do you draw the line between technology that is acceptable / unacceptable?

    Is it the (to me) rather arbitrary line drawn by some religious groups -- 200 years old, OK. Less than 150 years old, not OK. Using steel plows drawn by a team of horses -- that's high technology compared to that of hunter gatherer societies. Even those hunter gatherers are using rather high technology compared to that of our pre-human ancestors who had yet learned to shape a sharp rock. Our reliance on technology started well before Homo sapiens existed. Technology is the distinguishing feature that makes us who we are.
  4. Feb 3, 2014 #3
    I do feel like the generation that grew up through this communication era has seen a very remarkable increase in the technology. How dare you not know your Mothers number by heart! :smile: Surely it should be more acceptable for the next generation /

    Though I don't think too dependent on tech

    Holy hyperbole D H!

    I started thinking about the subtleties of technology dependence.
  5. Feb 3, 2014 #4
    At least 99% of people would be screwed. I think the Amish would recover fastest and fare best, having deliberately resisted so much technology thus far. On the other hand, they could easily fall prey to the roving bands of pillagers that would inevitably form.
  6. Feb 3, 2014 #5
    The loss of technology could only be the result of s global scale cataclysm that destroys most civilization. The question is how resilient is the human species to such an event. I think if the planet doesn't become completely uninhabitable and if even a small fraction of the global population survives then the species would have good chance of surviving. Humans are very adaptable beasts.
  7. Feb 3, 2014 #6

    You are absolutely right zobbyshoe, and it doesn't take some kind of cataclysm. A few months ago my son was out in the boondocks, aka middle of nowhere, looking at property. I got a phone call about 9:00 PM and he said, "Thank god my cell phones is back in range". "My GPS quit working and I am lost as he11".

    He was driving a minivan with no compass.

    He had been driving around endlessly on dirt roads and was none too happy. He finally got to an intersection that had a road sign that hadn't been ,pulverized with bullets to the point it was unreadable, and gave me the name of the road he was on.

    Yet I still the needed technology from his cell phone and Google maps to get him home. When he was a teen he and I had driven all over that area with nothing, but the stars and had never gotten lost.

    I bought him an old fashioned compass for Christmasss. I personaly rely on a spell checker too much.:redface:
  8. Feb 3, 2014 #7
    Roving bands of pillagers could take what the Amish have on hand, but they wouldn't know how to run the farm to get more.
  9. Feb 3, 2014 #8
    If you are worried about your dependence on more and newer technology, you can always learn how to live for some time with much less and much older technology. There is no law against learning how to start and maintain a fire the way humans did more than 10 000 years ago. At least I do not think there is!
  10. Feb 3, 2014 #9
    True. My point was that, left alone, the Amish would be best suited to surviving a technological wipe out. If they get pillaged though, they wouldn't have the resources to get to the next harvest, with the result that no one large group of people would emerge intact. Long term survival would be by lone, mobile individuals or very small bands who figure out how to hunt and gather well under the radar of the pillaging hordes. Anyone who tries to set up any sort of permanent community would just be sitting ducks for quite some time.
  11. Feb 3, 2014 #10


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    I agree with DH. If you start talking about giving up technology where do you stop? How about shoes, do you give them up? What about clothing? How about cooking your food? Is fire too much technology for you?
  12. Feb 3, 2014 #11


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    I use a cell phone, but I use it as...GASP...a phone.

    Evo Child keeps yelling at me because it's usually turned off. I only use it when I "need' to make a phone call, like making a doctor's appointment, it's not a form of entertainment, a map, or guidance system. I have gotten rid of kitchen gadgets and whip, beat, blend and chop by hand like in the olden days of yore.

    I have an old fashion tv. I do not have a radio or device to play music, I do have a computer, and that's my source of music. I still use paper maps, around here they are more accurate than the online maps which all show me living inside a cliff.

    Only one appliance I would die without, an air conditioner, I would have to move to a more moderate climate.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  13. Feb 3, 2014 #12


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    Fires are still my preferred method for heating our home, and like I said in the OP, I plan on learning to be more self-reliant. Not so much out of fear or dread, maybe it's to feel like I have a greater level of control over my own life.
    I guess I should've been more precise. However, I didn't say I wanted to give up technology. I think technology is great and is a positive element in our identity as a species as D H mentioned.

    I don't consider clothing and fire "technology", although I see how they could be classified as such. I'm more talking about digital technology: automated systems on vehicles, spell-checkers/symbolic calculators, GPS, etc.
  14. Feb 3, 2014 #13
    I think over use of GPS while driving leads to atrophy of "sense of direction."
  15. Feb 3, 2014 #14


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    I'm not entirely convinced by that scenario. I suspect most of the "pillaging hordes" would be dead from lack of a clean water supply long before they died of starvation. And the few that had enough skills for long term survival would know that cooperation was a better long term strategy than confrontation.
  16. Feb 3, 2014 #15
    Here in California the pillaging hordes clean water would run out quickly, but back where I lived in Minnesota ("The land of 10,000 lakes") they'd have an endless supply. It would vary according to the locale.

    The long term survivors would, indeed, want to band together and farm but wouldn't or couldn't so long as it made them targets of the pillagers.
  17. Feb 4, 2014 #16
    I don't think I know a single phone number anymore. However, I'm usually good with numbers and should there come a day when for some reason I need to learn them again I'm very confident that I could.

    The point here is that while technology allows us to forget/never learn some of the things the previous generation needed to know, that means that we have more brain resources to learn what we need to get to the next level. Human brain resources are finite after all, and noone can know everything of the past as well as everything new. This means that not learning things that the previous generation took for granted is completely necessary in order to further advance our society (which is good, since the world IS steadily becoming better).
  18. Feb 4, 2014 #17
    Most definitely but the real question I think is is dependence on technology really a problem?
  19. Feb 4, 2014 #18
    Human brain resources are not finite per se I know sounds like an odd view to have but given the number of neurons and possible connections therein they are finite only in as much as they are uncountable, they do however have a finite amount of time and neurons with which to process information, that said of course that means thinking is finite and not thinking is infinite, but I think you will agree few brains will ever do the latter, and none too many the former. :wink:

    I am of course joking. So don't take me seriously. :biggrin:
  20. Feb 4, 2014 #19


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    And the main reason for memorizing your mother's phone number would be so you could call her from a pay phone in an emergency?

    Finding a pay phone could be a bigger challenge than memorizing your mother's phone number.
  21. Feb 4, 2014 #20


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    Lol BobG!
  22. Feb 4, 2014 #21


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    Bystander: "Help! Somebody call 9-1-1!"

    Homer Simpson: "OK! What's their number?"

    In order to function in society, you've got to remember a few numbers. DOB, your SSN, your phone number, emergency numbers like 911 (or 999 for the UK), directory assistance (411). What happens to you if your little brain (your phone) gets lost or destroyed?
  23. Feb 7, 2014 #22
    heh, I meant phone numbers in particular (and obviously emergency number aside), not numbers in general. Among other things I know 25 digits of Pi that learned when I was bored in an art class some 15 years ago. My point was exactly that, that the reason for not knowing phone numbers anymore is not that we are not capable of it, it's just that there's no need. If the need arising we will all do it again, so the technology has not really "destroyed" anything.

    (And please not snide remarks about the lack of necesseity of learn digits of Pi ;)
  24. Feb 7, 2014 #23
    Too bloody dependant, power outage in the winter = major calamity.
  25. Feb 7, 2014 #24
    Mankind has been dependent on technology ever since the discovery of fish traps, whenever that was.

    In the 19th century it was ordinary to walk thirty miles in a day.
  26. Feb 7, 2014 #25
    You consult the cloud...Most phones have your information stored by their respective cloud services or backup assistants.

    I agree with the OP. I've found myself without a phone saying, "Hold on, I need to text (person expecting me) and let them know that I won't be able to communicate for X amount of time" and then realize that I didn't know the number.

    I memorized the following numbers just in case:

    I've got a couple numbers memorized as well, but that's just because they haven't changed their cell number since the time when one still sometimes had to enter the number manually.
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