It’s trite to say that technological literacy is a must-have skill for the 21st Century, but this is one of the things that really concerns me as a parent. I worry about my kids growing up surrounded by technology that they can’t hack, can’t fix, and basically operates as a black box. Glowing screens with big juicy icons that deliver the goods, right up until they don’t. And then what?
A gap is definitely emerging. One can observe a growing divide between people who have a general understanding of how computers, phones, and the internet work, are able to reason about this, make inferences and educated guesses, and those who sink below the event horizon where as Arthur C Clarke said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
This is dangerous, for a whole bunch of reasons.
First of all because without broad technical literacy this gap will deepen, harden, and there are good odds we’ll develop into a world of haves and have-nots. This is how you end up with the dystopian “HYPER REALITY” outcome:
Further, once you start assigning magical (or spiritual) value to the work of technology, you create a tremendous risk of obfuscating the human agent behind various decisions. People already have a tendency to believe or trust things a computer tells them, but algorithms are not “math” - they’re a series of particular human decisions on how to use particular bits of math to produce a particular outcome.