Dataitis: Technocracy’s Obsession With Data Is Crippling Human Thinking

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One Indian scholar captures the essence of Technocracy and links it to dataitis, an obsessive/compulsive disorder over data that is crippling human thinking. Indeed, the Technocrat mentality is not making men smarter, but rather incapable and unable to think for themselves.  ⁃ TN Editor

The times are changing. Changing so fast that Lewis Carroll sounds almost prophetic when he makes the queen quip to Alice in his classic Alice in Wonderland — “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

In today’s world, ideas, words, expressions — everything has changed. In fact, the very grammar of life has changed. Thus, we have  two terms to ponder over — Technocracy and Dataitis.  Technocracy has come to acquire a new connotation and Dataitis is now a new mindset.

Technocracy in standard parlance is a system of government run by scientists and technocrats, people with technical sophistication or knowledge.

Nothing can be farther from truth.

Technocracy in its present form has come to mean rule by technology, and technology alone. It is no longer the rule by the meritorious. It has become rule by machines.

Today, if you go to a bank and the link fails, which it does, the parroted answer would be that no work is possible till the link returns. Virtually, it is not the man but the machine that rules. And why only banks? This holds true even if you go to the railway reservation counter, or to big malls. Even in the ATMs, it is a regular feature.

All thanks to this dependence, the human beings behind these machines have practically stopped applying their brain. Rather, they have outsourced thinking. This is amply evident in personal dealings where we use computers or mobiles to communicate with acquaintances.

Recently, in the course of a railway journey, this columnist became friends with a family that was on the adjacent berth. There was exchange of business cards with a promise to be in touch through emails. The gentleman who was traveling was true to his word. So, after two days, I received a mail addressing me as “Dear Pyramid”. As I was reading the message wondering how Pramod became Pyramid, I found a one-line email following this one, expressing regret but categorically stating technological intervention or “autocorrect” was the villain in that story.

Thus in these times of modern-day technocracy, it is technology that does all the thinking.

God only knows whether technology is smart or not. But the human element is certainly missing and people are becoming dumb. And it is not just one stray case.

A good many cases validate this assertion. But it is not just technocracy that is blunting human ability. There is a more dangerous syndrome these days that is afflicting human minds. Of course, it is in some measure a technocracy effect.

Nevertheless, it needs a new terminology —Dataitis.

Like all other words ending with ‘-itis,’ this also is some kind of an affliction. It creates a huge obsession with data. While some social networking sites are using data for commerce, the human obsession with data is one kind of a dependence syndrome.

So, the time-tested learning and thinking techniques, observation and insight, that gave humans a unique advantage are being rendered ineffective due to what we can call disuse atrophy. It is this dataitis that is crippling human thinking.

Big data notwithstanding, if sample is representative and population homogenous, even small data can do the trick. But if sample is not representative, no amount of data will suffice. Technocracy, then, is just the new fad and Dataitis, the new obsession. Much ado about nothing.

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