Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
27 Mar 2011
Ignorance may not be bliss
At about the time when the Bhakra Dam was being built in the early 1960’s, a little known political movement was simultaneously gaining ground. Oblivious to the technology of generating power from flowing water, the proponents of the movement argued instead that power extracted from water will render the fluid sterile. Though the argument couldn’t stand the test of time, it did create some ripples in the corridors of power in Punjab.
The time may have changed but our ignorance of technology persists, in fact it has grown with each new gadget hitting the stores. The mobile phones and iPods bear testimony to the growing ignorance; only miniscule users are conversant with the myriad applications these gadgets come loaded with. While access to technology in itself is empowering, alienation from the same may have serious consequences especially when a tool is supposed to offer life saving results.
Alien Technology explores the intriguing levels of technology alienation, which is leading to the creation of a new kind of class system based on technology literacy. The pace with which corporations are rolling out new gadgets, a sense of inadequacy grips those who lack the ability to get a better sense of the technology. A vast majority may survive technological alienation and it indeed does but at the cost of being socially tagged as ‘less intelligent’.
Has technological sophistication made humans lesser intelligent? It indeed has, as child-like instinct of playing with new equipments using simply a screw driver is no longer possible. No wonder, our incessant obsession of technology has grown alongside our persistent ignorance of it. Using real-life examples, author Ananda Mitra engages the readers on a subject that has yet to catch the imagination of a vast majority, for whom ignorance is bliss.
Written in lucid language, Alien Technology is a timely introduction to a subject that has far reaching social and psychological implications. Ignorance and alienation can work against the masses in a variety of ways. Aren’t there computer users who still use predictable passwords, readily download any application or share details online, holding themselves vulnerable to computer hackers?
by Anand Mitra
Sage, New Delhi
224 pages, Rs 295