Segments in this Video

Smart Technology Debate Introduction (03:38)


Moderator John Donvan introduces Intelligence Squared U.S. Chair Robert Rosenkranz, who relates story in which a stock market algorithm failed to take human and market behaviors into account.

Promise of Charter Schools (02:21)

Derrell Bradford, Director of NYCAN, says Camden has amazing schools despite conditions. LEAP Academy, a charter school stands out, with a 98% graduation rate and all graduates going on to college.

LEAP Academy (03:14)

In the early 1990s, Gloria Bonia Santiago started LEAP Academy as an alternative to public schools. She worked to help pass New Jersey's first charter school authorization bill. The school receives 70% of the funding of public schools, yet has high success rates.

Against the Motion: David Weinberger (07:30)

"Too Big to Know" author David Weinberger argues that smart technology tools are helping us become smarter, that we adapt to new technology, and that the internet is deepening our knowledge.

For the Motion: Andrew Keen (07:39)

Silicon Valley Salon Futurecast executive director Andrew Keen argues that, while smart technology allows us to share intimate details of our lives, it is isolating us socially and culturally. The internet is negatively affecting knowledge objectivity and creative professionalism.

Against the Motion: Genevieve Bell (07:38)

Intel Corporation VP Genevieve Bell argues that smart technology is improving disaster response and health and safety programs throughout the world. Internet access has also empowered women and ethnic minorities and promoted citizenship and democracy.

Knowledge vs. Information (08:21)

Weinberger (against) and Carr (for) disagree whether knowledge is comprised of filtered information; Keen (for) points out that Google and Facebook are profiting by selling advertising around data sharing. Bell (against) discusses how data has revealed government surveillance.

Absorbing Information (04:12)

Carr (for) outlines how smart technology is causing us to skim read by default and pay attention to new information, rather than important information. Bell (against) points out that the impact of smart technology is more complex than just social media apps.

Cyber Utopians (03:48)

Keen (for) points out that technology hasn't led to democratic societies in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. Bell (against) counters that it can still empower communities in the developing world.

Internet Communication (09:40)

Weinberg (against) argues that technology inspired Arab Spring participants to organize for freedom; Carr (for) points out that ISIS uses the internet to recruit terrorists. They disagree whether freedom of expression has resulted in more people's voices being heard. Bell (against) argues that "superficial" social media activity also has value.

QA: Filter Bubble (02:46)

Carr (for) argues that internet users gather data that reinforces their own biases. Weinberger (against) counters that understanding requires fitting data into personal context.

QA: Smart Technology Pacifiers (03:07)

Carr (for) argues that exposing children to more screens and devices will cause them to be narrow minded. Bell (against) says that parents have always been concerned about new technologies.

QA: Humanities vs. Sciences Resources (03:43)

Carr and Keen (for) argue that internet sources are equally unreliable for the humanities and sciences. Weinberger (against) points out that internet communication has enabled multinational projects and open access to academic research.

QA: Automation Complacency (08:00)

Carr (for) cites a Google engineer's statement that search engines are getting smarter while users are getting lazier. Weinberger (against) cites written language as proof that technological evolution can benefit humanity. Keen (for) argues that we are losing the art of asking questions—fundamental to knowledge.

QA: Compulsive Technology (05:40)

Carr (for) clarifies that, while technology should be distributed to developing countries, he's concerned that it's impacting our ability to concentrate. He argues for using mobile devices and social media less.

Closing Statement For: Andrew Keen (02:42)

Keen compares our belief that smart technology is empowering intelligence and freedoms to the shadows in Plato's cave—making us less aware of our reality.

Closing Statement Against: David Weinberger (02:08)

Weinberber argues that the internet has facilitated a knowledge and information boom, and that we are currently in the smartest age of human history.

Closing Statement For: Nicholas Carr (02:19)

Carr argues that algorithms are replacing professional skills, and cites a Netherlands study finding that as apps got "smarter," people get "dumber." Pilots and doctors are becoming increasingly dependent on computers.

Closing Statement Against: Genevieve Bell (02:24)

Bell argues that, considering how many audience members use smart technology, few really believe that it's making them dumber and most recognize it's benefits to modern living.

Time to Vote (03:00)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists, and introduces the next Intelligence Squared Debate.

Audience Vote Results (01:10)

Predebate For: 37% - Against: 33% - Undecided: 30% Post-debate For: 47% - Against: 43% - Undecided: 10%

Credits: Smart Technology Is Making Us Dumb: A Debate (00:59)

Credits: Smart Technology Is Making Us Dumb: A Debate

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Smart Technology Is Making Us Dumb: A Debate

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Smart technology provides users vast and instant access to information and to other people, forming a strong and pervasive presence in our lives. But is there a downside to all of this connectivity? Some argue that while smart technology may put a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it also fosters dependency on electronic gadgets, narrows our contacts to echo chambers, and impairs cognitive skills by creating shortcuts and distractions. Are smart-tech devices making us dumber, guiding so much of our decision making that we are losing autonomy without even realizing it? Or are these concerns overblown, an exaggeration of the negative effects of high-tech consumption?

Length: 104 minutes

Item#: EDP94775

ISBN: 978-1-68272-108-7

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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