7.1 Evaluating Information 7.2 Neo-Luddite Views of Computers, Technology, and Quality of Life 7.3 Digital Divides y 7.4 Control of Our Devices and Data 7.5 Making Decisions About Technology A Exercises a A 356 Chapter 7 Evaluating and Controlling Technology In this chapter, we consider such questions as these: Does the openness and "democracy" of the Web increase distribution of useful information or of inac curate, foohsh, and biased information? How should we handle the latter? How can we evaluate complex computer models of physical and social phenomena? Is computing technology evil? Why do some people think it is? How does access to digital technology ditfer among dilferent populations? How should we control technology to ensure positive uses and consequences? How soon will robots and digital devices be more intelligent than people? What will happen after that? Whole books focus on these topics. The presentations here are necessarily brief. They introduce issues, arguments, and many questions. 7.1 Evaluating Information A little learning is a dang 'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. —Alexander Pope, 1709' 7.1.1 The Need for Responsible Judgment What is real? What is fake? Why does it matter? We can get the wrong answer to a question quicker than our fathers and mothers could find a pencil. —Robert McHenry^ There is a daunting amount of information on the Web—^and much of it is wrong. Quack medical cures abound. Distorted history, errors, outdated information, bad financial advice—it is all there. Marketers and pubUc relations firms spread unlabeled advertisements through blogs, social media, and video sites. Search engines have largely replaced librarians for finding information, but search engines rank informa tion sources at least partially by popularity and give prominent display to content providers who pay; librarians do not. Wikipedia, the biggest online encyclopedia, is immensely popular, but can we rely on its accuracy and objectivity when anyone can edit any article at any time? On social journalism sites, readers submit and vote on news stories. Is this a good way to get news? The nature of the Intemet encourages people to post their immediate thoughts and reactions without taking time for con templation or for checking facts. How do we know what is worth reading in contexts where there are no editors selecting well-written and well-researched articles? Faking photos is not new; photographers have long staged scenes and altered photos in dark rooms. When we see a video of a currently popular performer sing ing with Elvis Presley (who died in 1977), we know we are watching creative 7.1 Evaluating Information 357 entertainment—digital magic at work. But the same technologies can deceive, and circulation of a fake photo on the Internet can start a riot or bring death threats to an innocent person. Here is a.