For those of you with the time (and it needs some time) take a read of this article from The Atlantic. It’s a great read, written by Nicholas Carr, taking us on a short-ish journey of the impact of technology. From the written word to the internet and it’s impact on our thinking.
Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives—or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts—as the Internet does today. Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.
I must be honest and say that I struggled to read it without jumping to another ‘thing’ to get done on my computer. I was alerted to the article by a friend who said, “I’ve just read a really interesting article entitled ‘Is Google making us stupid?’ and I thought you might enjoy it. Warning – it’s fairly long, but once you start reading it you kind of feel morally obliged to finish it, lest you add credence to the basic thesis of the article that we cannot sustain focused concentration for more than a few paragraphs.” Still I fell into the trap : )
Still, their (Google) easy assumption that we’d all “be better off” if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence is unsettling. It suggests a belief that intelligence is the output of a mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated, measured, and optimized. In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.