Nicholas Carr: "Google undermines our ability to think deeply" | Trends

Controversy Y controversy are two nouns that accompany Nicholas Carr (United States, 1959) since, in 2003, criticized in an article in the Harvard Business Review the evolution acquired by information technologies. The same discussed with managers of Microsoft that of Intel. For this technological divulger, the internet has turned the human being into a superficial animal. Far from the depth that is presupposed to his reasoning. Social networks have not escaped from their darts loaded with criticism. In the publication of his last book, The technological nightmare (El Salmón Editions), writes that Twitter is nothing more than a place to express personal minutiae. "It offers, by borrowing the phrase of the philosopher John Gray, a refuge for insignificance," he argues.

Why do you think that social networks play such a pernicious role for society?

Is there still someone who does not criticize Facebook and the other networks? We have lost our innocence with respect to the digital realm. We have become disillusioned. I do not think anyone, except for emotional harassers or sadists, gets too much pleasure from a social network if they ever got it. We blindly enroll in their services and now we are used to them. We depend on them. We wove them into the fabric of society, but we use networks as a relief from the rigors of communication and thought. As a way to evade our mind.

Is there any chance of reversing this situation so that social networks do not seem as empty a site as you describe?

Does anyone feel satisfied, intellectually or socially, when using them? I do not think so. Most people feel anxiety and emptiness. It is important to remember that social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, were designed for informal conversations, such as friendly talks, flirting or quickly exchanging messages. Nothing to do with seriousness or subtle conversations. And yet, gthanks to a combination of personal laziness and business manipulation, we have come to use them more and more to speak in public and the political debate.

What are the consequences of dominating the public debate?

Networks have engendered superficiality and polarization. They have also promoted propaganda and the boom of calls fake news. I think the latter is one of the biggest tragedies of social networks. We use them for completely inadequate forms of communication.

Nicholas Carr

In the book you describe Facebook as a company that only does business with private data and ads. Are people aware of their model?

If there are still people who are under the illusion that Facebook is a benign tool for social harmony, they should have been asleep for years. They should wake up, turn off their phone and read a newspaper. Facebook is a business based on spying and manipulating us. This is so obvious that I think even Mark Zuckerberg would admit it.

Is technology, by itself, a problem or does it depend on how we use it?

Technology is created and used by humans, so in the end we are responsible for it. It's not something that falls by magic from the sky. It is foolish to think that technology is neutral. It has a bias, it pushes us to behave and think in a certain way. When we adopt a new tool, we also adopt its biases. For example, the Internet is biased towards the distribution of high-speed information in different formats, such as audio, text or images. This means that it is a means of great distraction, which undermines deep thought. So, when we connect, we exchange depth for amplitude, contemplation for stimulation.

Why do you ensure that Google has changed the way we reason and think?

Google's vision of the human mind is industrial. It is about the efficiency with which our brain processes information. For this reason, Google and other companies place so much emphasis on the speed and volume of information consumption. What they lack is an appreciation of how the brain transforms fragments of information into quality knowledge. By bombing us, they undermine our ability to think deeply, critically and conceptually. Ways of thinking that require attention and reflection. There is scientific evidence that shows that digital media push us towards a superficial thought and far from rigor. And everything is much worse since we have a smartphone all the time.

If there are still people who are under the illusion that Facebook is a benign tool for social harmony, they should have been dormant for years. "

You are concerned about data leaks and privacy. Have social networks encouraged cases to increase?

Something that networks have made clear is that the views of many people are misinformed, are banal or simply wrong. In this way, getting someone to express themselves is a mixed blessing. We would all be better if we spent more time thinking critically about our points of view and less about expressing them to everyone.. I believe that a sense of privacy is essential to develop a rich intellectual life, so the way in which social networks have robbed us of the shelter of privacy worsens all these problems.

How close is the relationship currently maintained by social networks and politics?

Social networks are inadequate for political discourse. They promote superficiality over depth, emotion over reason and group thinking over critical thinking. Its design encourages propaganda and misinformation to spread rapidly. Politicians have adopted social networks because it gives them an easy way to get attention and excite their bases. It is difficult to see positive effects in the movement of political discourse and public debate towards networks.

Does anyone feel satisfied, intellectually or socially, when using them? I do not think so. Most people feel anxiety and emptiness.

Steve Bannon, campaign strategist at Donald Trump, among others, is an example of how politics has adapted to the internet. Does the extreme right lead the rest of the games?

In the United States, the right has an external perspective. They see themselves fighting in a battle against the political and academic elites who believe they control the culture. I think that is why people like Bannon appreciated from the beginning how social networks could be an effective weapon for cultural and political warfare. But I do not see that networks have any particular political bias. They can be used by both left and right despots.


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