Our habits and the way we think have always been changed by technology. The printing press, agricultural machinery, the motor car and the television have all contributed to behavioural and attitudinal changes. Is the ubiquitous smartphone something more insidious? Is our reliance on this easy to access tool outsourcing our memory functions and leading to cognitive decline? Are spatial and navigational strategies at threat from the use of GPS? Indeed are musculoskeletal changes resulting due to hours spent hunched over these devices? An interesting article looked at many of these issues and whilst it notes that we may never know just how our digital toys shape our brains, our brains are responding and adapting to it. The bigger challenge may come not from what exactly the technology does to us and our lives but what by default it displaces. Less time spent on activities such as parenting, socializing and exercise may have greater consequences for society.
The historian Niall Ferguson once opined: the law of unintended consequences is the only real law of history.