In his article “Computers and the Pursuit of Happiness”, David Gelernter criticizes the popular claim that we are living in the information age, which is essentially different from the previous agricultural and industrial phases of development. He observes that the basic values of human beings remain the same, while the market value of industrial products is also high, just as it was hundreds of years ago. While the author admits that computers have provided many benefits, he believes that their main purpose should change from processing information to helping people know themselves better.
I agree with the author that the significance of Internet and information in the modern society is unjustifiably exaggerated. The advent of new technologies may indeed be a revolutionary change, but human communication and material goods are still irreplaceable. The change was not revolutionary enough to transform us into robots: we eat food, not information, and we make friends and fall in love because of the emotions we feel, not the information we exchange with this person. We have gained access to more information, but it can hardly make us happier. The phrase of the author that the information is “pouring into people’s lives through more and more stuck-open faucets” particularly resonates with me as I often feel tired of the torrents of unnecessary news that we are bound to perceive through different channels. Sometimes I am even slightly envious of the people who live far from civilization in the pastoral setting as they have more chances to come to peace with themselves and live in harmony with nature, which are the things that truly matter. We have invented many surrogates of reality, but they only make us farther from ourselves and from each other, despite that the geographical distance can be easily overcome with the help of technology.
Too often in the history of mankind great inventions were used for wrong and even wicked purposes. I agree with the author that computer can become one of those inventions unless people learn to use it for the generation of new social structures and getting closer with each other. At present, technologists are preoccupied with the invention of robots that can fake human emotions, while also having powerful intellect. However, it should be remembered that the creator is always more valuable than the creation itself: new technologies have to remind us of uniqueness of human beings instead of trying to replace them.