The question we talked about this past Friday was - With all of today's technology, are we moving forward? My immediate reaction was yes, of course - everything is faster, information is everywhere, the world is getting smaller. But, it really depends on the context.
In terms of intelligence, overall scores continue to improve - primarily in the problem-solving portion of intelligence tests (Jonah Lehrer, Wired 080211). Scientists are studying new forms of "environmental stimulation" that contribute to this, such as technological entertainment that exposes us to a broader range of cognitive challenges and changes the way we think.
So technology is helping increase our general knowledge base as well as changing how we learn. But are we getting wiser as well? Good question. You might not think so if you've seen some of the videos on YouTube.
In terms of moving forward socially, we all agreed that technology is creating a shift in what we are exposed to. The Middle East in the summer of 2011 is a good example of social networking that was immediate, worked to inform, mobilize and change.
But moving forward holistically requires a combination of continuing to increase our knowledge base as well as continuing to learn things that technology can't teach us - compassion, acceptance, how to swim, etc.
We'll always have a relationship with technology and our human nature ensures that we'll continue to take some steps forward and some steps back, with the hope that as a whole we're moving in the right direction.
Thinking in more sophisticated ways, New York Times 032712
Are people getting smarter? Wired080211
Are we getting smarter? Ricochet 051012
Divided Attention The Chronicle of Higher Education 022811