Automating good judgment?

With the avalanche of personal technology available to us in the last 10 years – from Facebook pages to iPhones and GPS systems – “things” are managing our lives, and doing a pretty good job for the most part. But let’s not forget the importance of our humanity.

No one can automate good judgment and understanding, which we will need not only to make sense of the streams of data we can access, but also to assess the onslaught of passionate, sometimes rabid opinions coming at us 24/7.

Should small, vocal minorities be able to influence policy, business activities or any other endeavor just because they can be heard over the din? This brings to mind the new, draconian immigration law passed by the Arizona state legislature.

There are honest differences of opinion, for sure, about how to deal with the problems of illegal immigration. But come on, where is our humanity and our common understanding of the human condition? We all want a life with some semblance of safety and security. We all want our children to grow up with some hope for a happy life. We all want to live in a decent home and have enough to eat. We all want to live without fear. No matter where we come from.

So we should be able to start the debate, any debate, with that understanding. Everyone has the right to speak out, but with all the tech tools at our disposal, the loudest and angriest vocal minorities today have the opportunity to dominate public discourse for the first time in our history. And they’re startling our sometimes spineless political and business leaders to react before they think.

So let’s not forget that even as technology becomes indispensable in our business and personal lives, it’s our insights and judgments, and our common humanity, that must drive the discussion about our future as a society.

It may seem simplistic, but a tool is only as good as the person who uses it, whether it’s a dirty bomb or a Twitter account. Our ability to speak and argue about the issues of the day has great value, but what’s more relevant is how well we listen and think and understand, and the sound judgment we exercise when we do.

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