Smartphones. How about dumbphones?

SMARTPHONE. Nice word – is the phone meant to be the smart one or does it make the user smarter? Or is it the case that the phone increases the chances of error to the extent that people do tend to make more errors?

There is a sense of arrogance evident when people use smartphones, forgetting that if they are stupid then they will end up doing stupid things.

Any computer can only be programmed by human beings. Humans are prone to make errors. And those errors will reflect themselves in the way computer programs behave.

The classic example is the message that one receives at the venerable DOS prompt after entering a command that means nothing to the operating system. The computer responds “Bad command or filename.” End of story.

With a human being the reaction is different; if one were to ask one’s child to go to the bedroom and fetch a red shirt lying on the bed, the child will use his own intelligence when he finds a blue shirt lying there instead.

The kid’s reasoning will run thus: “Dad must have made a mistake, I better take the blue shirt with me as he must have meant blue instead of red.” The computer cannot reason in this manner.

But the line of demarcation is never made clear by the makers of digital devices who always paint the device as having its own form of intelligence. And when those of rather feeble intelligence are the ones spreading the message of technology, the question does tend to get confused.

Technology has come from a long way from the timw when computers tended to malfunction every time women wearing nylon underwear stood close to the machine. But it is still the case that the intelligence lies with the human being, not the machine.

There are many cases where an inefficient organisation computerises every one of its functions and then wonders why it doesn’t become efficient overnight. Those who are in charge do not realise that computerised inefficiency is worse than the other kind.

Do smartphones make people smarter? No, these devices have the capability to make it easier to carry out some functions which were done in a more laborious manner in the past. The apparent ease with which things can be done also makes it possible to make more horrendous mistakes.

The human is the smart one. Or, dumb, as the case may be.


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