Smart technology grants us unprecedented, immediate access to knowledge and to each other—a ubiquitous and seamless presence in everyday life. But is there a downside to all of this connectivity? It’s been said that smart technology creates dependency on devices, narrows our world to echo chambers, and impairs cognitive skills through shortcuts and distraction. Are smart tech devices guiding so much of our decision making that we are losing autonomy without even realizing it? Or are these concerns an overstatement of the negative effects of high-tech consumption? Arguing for the motion is Nicholas Carr, author of "The Glass Cage: Automation and Us" and "The Shallows" with Andrew Keen, internet entrepreneur and author of "Tomorrows versus Yesterdays." Arguing against the motion is Genevieve Bell, anthropologist and VP at Intel Corporation with David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Berkman Klein Center and author of "Too Big to Know." John Donvan moderates. This conversation was taped on May 13, 2015.
· From autopilot to apps, our lives have become increasingly automated. By depending on devices instead of actively engaging in work or leisure, our cognitive skills fade away.
· The internet - as the central medium by which we read, write, and learn - has fundamentally changed the wiring of our brains, diminishing out ability to think deeply and critically.
· Humans are not effective multitaskers, and digital media's constant distractions weaken our focus and scatter our attention.
· Instead of broadening our intellectual and sociocultural horizons, social media narrows our worlds to echo chambers.
· Tech giants know more about us than we know about ourselves. As they relate to us as mere consumers, as data, we lose our autonomy.
· The digital revolution has reinvented knowledge, replacing traditional constraints with open, limitless networks. With the internet, humans can work together to infinitely scale knowledge.
· With 24/7, hyperconnected networks, knowledge has been democratized, giving increasing agency to everyone, everywhere.
· The efficient, seamless presence of digital technologies has freed us from menial tasks, thereby opening space in our minds for higher pursuits.
· Technology is what we make it, not vice versa. Far from mindless, passive consumers, people across the world are actively engaging with technology to better their lives and societies.