Brainless genius


By: Kari Olstad

A brainless crowd is a scary thing. Photo by  sookie/
A brainless crowd is a scary thing. Photo by sookie/

I was 12 when Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to scare the living daylight out of us with ‘The Terminator’, and old enough to not be very scared seeing ‘The Terminator II’ seven years later. Still, one thing was just as spooky in the sequel; the way the robots scan their targets and get all sorts of information about them. Today that is not science fiction anymore, it’s Google glass.

Information is power, and it doesn’t have to be exclusive. The first one to use smart glasses to sparkle at social events will have an advantage. Wouldn’t you be very flattered if a person is interested enough to remember everything you tell him? Wouldn’t you be freaked out if he also remembers all those things you didn’t tell?

Information is available to us all. (And by “us all” I am of course referring to people in countries who aren’t actively restricting access to this information or areas where infrastructure is so poor that information is unavailable for practical reasons.)

I was teaching a group of teachers (I will not say what level or country) whereof most were not very tech-savvy (neither am I, to be fair). Some of them complained that with everything so available on the internet, there would be no need for basic knowledge anymore. So I gave them a challenge: Who is the first to tell me if the name of the president of Barakasthan using the most efficient search on internet, and why has USA just banned trees in parks within all city borders? No one even raised an eye brow, much less a hand. They just went to work –and by work I mean Google. (If you plan to Google this yourself, let me save you the trouble: This is total bogus, and I was thinking it would trigger at least a small “huh?”.)

Consider this total ,and general, lack of awareness and mix it with the naivety with which we create a digital presence, and it is time to be scared again; good old fashioned eighties style horror movie scared. Especially when reading articles like these: Is social media the weak link in the fight against cyber attacks?

Because the scary thing is not what is out there, it is how we process it.

Will we be like the robots of the Terminator movies, reacting to whatever information that pops up in front of us? Have access to all kinds of information, but be unable to choose, unable to use the information wisely, to use it ethically, to use it even remotely critically?