Larry Ellison: Technology has 'negatively impacted' children

In old age, arms dealer ruminates on problems caused by rifles


Tech magnate and extremely rich chap Larry Ellison bemoans the effect technology has on children.

Billionaire Larry Ellison was asked at the Oracle Human Capital Management summit on Thursday about what changes he thought technology might have on the world.

After plugging a movie his daughter produced – "Her" – as a good indication of how technology may change our lives in the future, the chief executive of database company Oracle ruminated on some of the unexpected problems the tech revolution has already had.

"I am so disturbed by kids who spend all day playing videogames," Ellison – who was born in 1944 – said.

"When I was a kid a long time ago, when the sun rose I was outside on my bike. If my parents were lucky – poor parents! – I would be home before it got dark," he recalled, before saying it seemed like a shame to him that kids these days spend their time playing computer games, rather than being outside.

"They prefer videogames to real games because they're easy," he said.

By example, Ellison noted that "in virtual reality everyone gets to be [basketball superstar] LeBron."

"Game-playing is more fun when it's virtual because you're more successful. ... in reality, only one person gets to be LeBron."

In Ellison's view, though technology is at root "neither good nor bad ... it can sometimes be disturbing to see how technology has, I think, very, very negatively impacted the lives of our children."

Ellison is not alone in his view that technology can be bad for children. MIT professor Sherry Turkle has made similar warnings in talks and books about how technology poses a great danger to the development of social skills in the young.

More broadly, writer Nicholas Carr has become a cautious critic of technology as well. In The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, he writes at length about how the availability of easy information retrieval via services like Google may be eroding our ability to think clearly.

Governments are also aware of this, as seen by the UK political establishment's well-meaning push for teaching young children to program, and the success of the homegrown Raspberry Pi microcomputer.

The problem with all of this is that it's the services that tech tycoons like Larry Ellison created – the Oracle database, for instance – that made it possible for companies to build higher-order, more abstracted systems, and to present them to a wider range of consumers. These systems, by necessity, were less easy to fiddle with than the lower-order systems they replaced – you don't need to be as technologically sophisticated to get to grips with a MacBook as you did for a BBC Micro, for instance – and so as more children use technology, proportionally fewer children are learning the fundamentals.

"I think the impact of technology on children right now and different aspects of our lives is sometimes fabulous and sometimes terrible," Ellison said. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021