Is the argument that technology enables us to work on the tasks that add value, rather than menial ones, really true? Further, is it making us think less while becoming ever more reliant on it?

The world of work is competitive. It often seems difficult to stay ahead of the game and remain employable. Part of this is due to technological change.

For years, technology has been seen as something we need to master. Whether it’s data analysis in Excel or automating note-taking during meetings, technology can improve our abilities and enhance our productivity.

Granted, it often does. Cloud computing is just one of many new technologies enabling automated data-sharing across an organization, cutting out time-wasting steps, and improving team cohesion.

Kids these days have such short attention spans

We’ve all been there. Someone is reminiscing about the good old days and fretting over the future of humanity. Why? Naturally, it’s because children have no attention span anymore after years of using Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. This, and the knock-on effects of social media, is certainly a cause for concern, but it is not the only negative posed by technology. Adults are at risk from over-use technology use too.

In the office, technology, in the form of extra authentication steps, constant forms demanding an email address to access information, and another cookies popup, can slow us down. Despite the widespread use of technology, the UK’s yearly productivity growth rate was just 0.5% between 2008 and 2020.

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The other issue is reliance. The commonly used verb “Google it” supposedly means using a search engine to find an answer. What it actually means is: I’ll look up the answer instead of thinking about the question and coming to my own conclusion. Is that an overstatement? Technologies’ omnipresence skews the information we receive. Websites push themselves up Google search results rankings through search engine optimization, resulting in us all viewing the same websites. ChatGPT is just another chapter in the story of technology replacing our brain’s functions, not just our physical working capacity.

Healthy scepticism of technology is needed

Of course, tech can be a force for good. But it is depreciating our intelligence and ability to think independently simultaneously. Reliance on it to improve our lives is alarming: from the fight to limit climate change to pushing for economic growth, relying on tech to provide the answers may be unfounded and dangerous.

We certainly won’t find the answers if technology stops us from thinking for ourselves. Not to mention the fact that continual technological improvement is not guaranteed. If we assume it is, this will feed into assumptions about the future. Therefore, healthy scepticism is needed to prevent any nasty shocks down the line.