Technological Intuition And Clarke’s Third Law

This video managed to get some attention in the last week.  As part of the Kids React series produced by The Fine Brothers, watch kids try and figure out portable cassette players (Walkman is/was a popular brand produced by Sony).

It’s not the first Kids React video to have kids engage with ‘old’ technology.  Both of them serve as a useful point to consider along with the anecdotes you’ve heard about kids taking to new technology quite easily.  Now if these videos (and those anecdotes) are representative, why would older technology necessarily be more perplexing to the young?  In certain ways the technology is new to them, even if it has been around since their grandparents were their age.

Besides, it’s not as though the old dogs will be any better than the new dogs at learning old tricks.  Unless you’re a miracle worker (skip to around the 1 minute mark if you’re impatient).

Scotty was certainly able to adapt to the old computer, but I’m starting to wonder if Clarke’s Third Law (any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic) can be generalized.  That is, does the technology have to be sufficiently advanced to confound the observer?  Might it not be enough for the technology to be sufficiently different from what the observer knows?


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