Friday, August 3, 2012

When Technology Pre-empts Thinking

My memory is shot. Instead of trying to figure out something, I just google or wiki it.  The 21st century breeds a bit of laziness with our dependence on the internet.  I often see folks asking questions on message boards that should be easy to figure out or perhaps they can talk to someone.  Sure, I have crowd-sourced a few times lately when I might have gotten some answers if I did the work myself. 

Why is this a problem?  It is a problem if that breeds habits when one enters the policy world.  In a very interesting post on civil-military relations, Rosa Brooks conveys a story about folks in the White House responding to a crisis and asking to move a drone to cover the event.  Josh Foust points out that there are other assets in play that might work better.  Also, drones have complications attached to them, like who says they can fly over? 

This is more than just the "if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" problem that armed drones made endemic lately.  This is a problem with policy folks who see only one means by which to gain info, when there are many, each with pro's and cons.  But as Josh points out in a subsequent tweet, getting agencies to share information is hard even though that was lesson #1 after 9/11 (and, of course, lesson #1 before 9/11).

I am not anti-drone.  I just think that any technology can be used well or poorly.  Drones, since they don't risk American lives, have been to the go-to tool for all problems, even when there are other means available.  It is not just risk-averse but lazy. 

But I can say that because I am comfy at my desk.  I am not about to drive to a library and look through stacks.  So, I guess it takes a lazy, unimaginative person to know one?

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