The question is more important than the answer
At the moment, the education systems of many countries are not aligned with the needs and challenges
of the new information society, which is based on advanced technologies and big data. In order to
educate citizens who will be able to face these challenges, education systems will have to be reformed.
One of the key abilities necessary for orientation and functioning in the new information society is the
ability to ask the right questions. The answers are everywhere and they can be obtained relatively
easily through a search engine or an artificial intelligence tool such as a chatbot. However, asking
questions is still something only reserved for humans. That is why in education we should not focus
exclusively on learning new information but above all on developing people’s ability to think critically. If
we develop this ability, we will not become “slaves” to the analyses that machines perform for us, on
the contrary, will use them to gain better insights into certain aspects of our reality and make better
In George Orwell’s famous novel 1984, the all-powerful state has eyes and ears everywhere and knows
exactly when and what each of us is doing. Today, you can often hear accusations against large
companies that they are like Orwell’s Big Brother, because they have our data and they use it in a non-
transparent way. However, it is also a fact that we, knowingly and voluntarily, relinquish our privacy. We
record our daily activities on the phone constantly, and we share them on social media networks. We
post photos on Instagram and Facebook, share our thoughts with our followers on Twitter, and upload
our videos to platforms like YouTube or TikTok.
On the other hand, it also seems that we have become addicted to personalized information. We
expect Google to supply the content that suits our needs. For this to be possible, Google needs to know
a lot about us. The more it knows, the more relevant information it will be able to give us. We expect a
music platform like Spotify to have our favourite playlist available on all our devices, and YouTube to
recommend content that we would like and that is in line with our tastes and values. In order for these
platforms to meet our expectations, we share our preferences with them.
The phenomenon of the “quantified self” is a trend in which an increasing number of people use
modern technology to measure numerous aspects of their lives. They want to gain insight into what they
eat, how much they move, how deeply they sleep and how their heart is working while they exercise.
They decide for themselves how much they want to monitor and measure a certain aspect of their life.
Through various applications on smartphones or other devices, people can record information about
their behaviour, health and lifestyle easily, and then use that data as motivation to, for example, reach
a higher level of fitness and better overall physical health.
“Almost everything we do turns into data,” says Gary Wolf, author of the term “quantified self”. Using
the data that we generate ourselves could help us to better manage medical issues, improve our sleep
or eat better. Of course, this also raises certain questions, such as the excessive preoccupation with
numbers or the security of our data.