Losing Appetite For Knowledge

We crave for food when we are hungry, and we despise food after eating too much that you feel sick…

I’m sure you have experienced this feeling at least once in your lifetime, haven’t you? The same feeling can arise not only from food, but other things as well – listening to the same song 24/7 drives you crazy, even though you liked it at first – there are plenty of examples. I guess it is a human tendency to overdoing something we really like, to the extent that we get sick of it. It is all natural and good, except for one thing : information.

People used to live with little information, or information which was manipulated for the benefit of the authority at the time. Before Martin Luther and printing technology in Europe, ordinary citizens had very little means to gain knowledge to think on their own, as they believed and followed what the Catholic Church had said. The Reformation in 1517 enabled those citizens to read printed documents on their own and develop their own ideas. People were craving for information (here I use the word information in a quite wide definition, meaning knowledge, ideas, news etc.), and they were eager to learn new things. Their intellectual curiosity was hungry, which led to the Enlightenment movement in Europe.

Today, we live in the information society. We are surrounded by information ; we are able to know literally everything by just asking Google. Some people take vacations just to escape from the chaos of information (emails, advertisements…), which is what I think is a side effect of too much information. Just like you feel ill after eating too much, people are getting tired of consuming too much information which was once something people craved for. All these notifications on your phone, messages you have to reply, advertisements on websites, commercials on TV… They are becoming more and more annoying, aren’t they? Our intellectual curiosity is so full that it has become difficult to digest what it had consumed.

What I am worrying about is that people become so fed up with the amount of information that surrounds them, that they stop digesting them ; people stop thinking on their own.

Even today we can observe this sort of trend in the society. For instance, developing the technology which enables non-human things, such as AI, makes decision for human beings. People are renouncing their ability to think independently.

Are we moving backward to the time when people had no choice but to believe whatever others tell them? This time it is not other human beings that you have to listen to, but non-humans like AI, computers and robots. And what is more frightening is that this time, people voluntarily choose to do so.

 

Civilization or...?
“Civilization or…?” Tokyo, Japan 2018

 

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