A fairly recent longitudinal study of older people with hearing loss that was conducted by John Hopkins University discovered that, over a period of 10 years, people who entered the study with any form of hearing loss showed a much faster rate of brain atrophy – hearing is a neurological process that takes place in the left and right auditory cortices located in the frontotemporal region of the brain – than people who had entered the study with normal hearing. Continue reading
Both the beginning and end of DST are tough changes on even the healthiest among us. For someone like me who has had hardwired sleep challenges all my life, both the beginning and end of DST are particularly hard for me for about a week until my body and brain adjust to the change. Continue reading
While most reports on the long-term health effects on first responders to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City have focused on physical damage – increased rates of severe respiratory conditions and incidences of cancer – often leading to premature death, it has only been within the last month that the long-term neurological effects have been examined and documented. Continue reading
As with The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr has brought the role of technology in our lives into focus with another aspect that I doubt many of us really understand in its pervasiveness in our everyday lives and what it is costing us, not just in obvious ways, but in ways that are fundamental to being human and be uniquely skilled to productively and expertly interact in and with the world of opportunity and possibilities we’ve been given.
The subtitle of this book is “Automation and Us,” and how automation has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and what we’re losing in the process is Carr’s subject in this book.
Automation, of and by itself, is not bad. It is the things we’ve automated and our relationship to automation (serving it instead of letting it serve us) that turns what could be a good thing into something that is destined to destroy us – our unique human abilities, skills, and talents – unless we take control and do something different.
One of the points that Carr makes in this book is that we have offloaded critical thinking skills, technical acumen, analysis, and creativity to technology. By doing this, we gradually lose the ability to operate successfully manually (without the technology) and use judgement, intuition, experience, and knowledge to navigate our lives and our professions.
Carr looks at the impact of automatic in the airline industry (specifically looking at how autopilot has degraded the skills of pilots to successfully deal with emergencies and crises when flying), in business (stock market, accounting, business decisions, human resources, hiring, etc., which have all been relegated to software to handle, with no human factors involved, resulting in the global financials messes we now deal with and with a loss of talent because there’s no human contact or intervention to recognize the talent), in medicine (with the advent of electronic medical records in most medical facilities, software is now making the decisions that doctors used to make and because the software adds procedures and tests, the costs, which were supposed to go lower, have actually increased exponentially) and in manufacturing.
He also looks at us and how we’ve turned over our brains to automation. We depend on social media to decide who and what we like (or don’t) and who we’re friends with (and who we’re not – anyone who chooses to limit this exposure disappears and becomes invisible because they simply don’t exist outside the virtual world) and we have chosen willing to live in this virtual world more than we actually interact with the real word.
We’ve given control of our lives to our electronic devices: to do lists, calendars, phone numbers, etc. We let our software do things we should be doing ourselves: spell-checking, grammar-checking, basic math functions, etc. We have fallen for the myth that automation gives us more power, when instead it erodes our power and our humanness.
As we don’t use our brains, we lose our brains, leading to the brain itself atrophying and dying. This sadly, is a lifestyle factor that will lead to dementia, unless we make the choice to stop it and reverse it. We already are more impacted than we realize.
But it is not too late for us to put our lives and our brains back on manual and let automation serve us in ways that don’t jeopardize the health of this wonderful brain we’ve been blessed with.
People are much more extreme in their polarization of love and hate (nothing in between) in an automated world. It often seems that empathy, compassion, care, concern and love – all unique human abilities – is absent in the presence of a world that is automated. We lose our ability to relate to each other in any kind of real way and, as a result, we lose our humanness, and we become programmed to polarized points of view that we simply pick up and accept by what and who we choose to listen to, follow, and expouse in the landscape of technology (cable, streaming, internet, etc.).
We are losing our life blood – our hearts, our souls, and our minds, because we serve the god of automation that lacks emotional richness, deep understanding, and caring concern. I hope we reverse this trend, but I also am realistic enough to realize that we probably won’t and it will probably get much worse before it gets better.
“War is hell.” General Sherman Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), who led Union forces through the South during the United States Civil War, made not only this insightful observation on the nature of fighting wars, but also added “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it;…”
The ultimate purpose of war is malevolent: to maim, to injure, to destroy, and to kill to force one group of people to surrender to another group of people. Continue reading
Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the greatest boxers of all time. His physical strength and abilities, his agile footwork in the ring, and his witty and intelligent – and sometimes boastful – running commentaries about himself and his opponents made Ali compelling and appealing to a much wider segment of the population than just those who liked to watch boxing.
Both the beginning and end of DST are tough changes on even the healthiest among us. For someone like me who has had hardwired sleep challenges all my life, the beginning of DST is particularly hard for me for about a week until my body and brain adjust to the change. Continue reading