Miseducation, Society & Democracy
The technologies we carry everywhere and can no longer live without are certainly transformative and empowering. At their best they facilitate learning by lowering the transaction costs of amassing and accessing information, and help to bridge the time and distance between continents and cultures, past and present. Yet smartphones, social media and online search have rewired our brains, affected our ability to make sense of the world, challenged our decision-making, and reordered our relationships with one another and society at-large. Anecdotal evidence of societal maladies is legion: distraction, superficial thinking, academic scandals, anti-social behavior, arrested social development, addiction, depression, suicide, cultural fragmentation and societal division, and susceptibility to rumor, myth, superstition and manipulation. Scientific inquiry is beginning to confirm the disturbing correlation of these phenomena with the rise of smartphones, social media, online search, virtual reality and other intimate technologies. Meanwhile tech companies are increasingly willing to put an editorial finger on the scale, sanitizing social media, managing search engine results and engaging in censorship verging on thought control.
Do we truly understand the potential dark side of the technologies we depend on to manage every aspect of our lives? Do we want to live in societies in which individual autonomy, individual choice, and even individual personality are only illusions, stealthily manipulated by multinational business enterprises in the name of expediency, efficiency, commerce or social justice? How we can better rule these technologies rather than letting them rule us?
We explore the impact of technology on learning. What are the consequences for education, epistemology, knowledge, society, democracy?