As individuals, organizations and communities grapple with the harmful effects of technology – from distraction and skill loss to misinformation and social strife – acclaimed sociologist and New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Carr shows us how we can shape a different future by avoiding past mistakes and crafting creative solutions to current and future problems.
A visiting professor at Williams College and a former executive editor at Harvard Business Review, Carr has spent decades observing and dissecting how technology, particularly digital media, artificial intelligence and automation, can undermine our ability to think critically, retain knowledge, perform tasks and make decisions.
“When we constrict our capacity for reasoning and recall or transfer those skills to a gadget, we sacrifice our ability to turn information into knowledge,” Carr writes in his Wall Street Journal essay, “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds.” “We get the data but lose the meaning. Upgrading our gadgets won’t solve the problem. We need to give our minds more room to think.”
Carr’s 2019 article, “Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism,” may seem more timely now, but it is just one in a series of early warning bells he has been sounding since the publication of his prescient 2008 essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” which remains a modern classic. His New York Times bestselling book, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” – a Pulitzer Prize finalist – was an early examination of the high price we pay for enjoying “the internet’s bounties.” While today’s remote and hybrid workplace models offer many benefits, Carr argues that the associated losses, especially to individual cognition, may justify a reconsideration of how often we engage through screens.
“We need to become better stewards of our own technological future because technology itself is not going to make us better human beings,” Carr explained at Purdue University’s Dawn or Doom Conference. “That’s something that only we can do, both individually and as a society.”
What People Are Saying About Nicholas Carr
“The Spanish Council of Psychology, the leader of psychology in the Ibero-American world, held its annual conference (virtually) on November 14, 2020 featuring well-known author and lecturer Nicholas Carr who spoke about the mind and social networks. His inclusion on the list of speakers for our conference was without a doubt the main incentive to register and participate in the conference and was a large part of the conference’s success.”
– Rodolfo Ramos Álvarez, Professor Psychology / Technology, General Council of Psychology of Spain