“Is Google making us stupid?” Living in the age of technophobia

Many articles, such as this one, emphasize the potential perils of technology in our lives. Will we become too dependent on computers? Will the machines rise up? This needless, even counterproductive, fear-mongering is reflected across media.

Image result for evil technology
Watch out.

Technology changes fast however and can seem threatening, even if it improves our lives. The internet as we need know it has only been around for about 20 years, and has only become accessible to most people even more recently. As technology (and it’s marketing) improves, we can only expect it to become more and more integrated into our daily lives. This is a great NPR piece showcasing the potential for greater computer and internet integration to enhance our relationships and work. Having, for example, reminders about upcoming events and details of friends’ personal lives in real time as we interact with them could provide new depth to preexisting relationships that might not normally be possible given our relatively limited ability to remember “random” details. Being able to recall facts and figures in the modern era is not all that important given how easy it is to look things up (even without a fancy interface). Computers and automation will only increase as time progresses, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The human brain is the best tool we currently have for critical thinking, and will likely remain so for some time. I think that technology that provides additional information and resources to us almost instantly will only enhance that. There is a difference between information and intellect. I don’t think that “Google is making us stupid.” Rather, it is setting us up to reach our full potential.

 

 

Our dystopian obsession has grown up in our nightmares as a true monster, which can only be countered by something truly beautiful. Simply, we need a hero. Our fears are demons in our fiction placing our utopia at risk, but we must not run from them. We must stand up and defeat them. Artificial intelligence, longevity therapy, biotechnology, nuclear energy — it is in our power to create a brilliant world, but we must tell ourselves a story where our tools empower us to do it.

— Michael Solana, Wired

 

7 thoughts on ““Is Google making us stupid?” Living in the age of technophobia”

  1. I find that “full potential” claim interesting. Do we not sacrifice some of our potential by letting computers take the wheel on certain things? I do not really have an opinion on either side of this, but I am curious what other people would think about it. Do computers take on the archival role that allows us to think further with less “foundational” work if you will?

  2. Thank you for the post.

    Meghan, I think we do give up a type of potential…something along the lines of brain control. However, with some effort that can be retrieved or express in other functional areas. I call it unplugging. Know when you have gathered enough info and step away from the computer. ‘o)

  3. Thanks for this post, Nicole, and thanks very much for the reference to that segment of Invisibilia. I agree there are crucial differences between information and intellect. The web puts an abundance of information at our immediate disposal, but we have to transform that information into something new and meaningful. I guess that puts me closer to the “full potential” camp — although I am also a huge fan of unplugging when the time is right.

  4. Thank you for your post Nicole. I definitely agree that we are being helped in many ways by technology and it does set us up for certain successes. I also agree that too much information can be overwhelming and the amount that is available is out of control. I’ve been writing my prelims and I can say that so much being available online makes it tough to separate…”the more I know the more I realize I don’t know”. There has to be a balance but as Henry said we need to know when is a good time to step away and know that we have enough information.

  5. “There is a difference between information and intellect. I don’t think that ‘Google is making us stupid.’ Rather, it is setting us up to reach our full potential.”

    I liked this statement at the end of your post. Like you, I agree Google is something that can help us realize full potential, much like tools are used to build bigger things than human hands are capable of alone. My father, who is for all intents and purposes technologically illiterate, is a carpenter, and I have been able to get him more open to technology by describing it as such. He’s come to agree that viewing technology as a tool can be a good thing for those who need to use those tools to build their own understanding of concepts. Without those tools, many people without, say, an innate ability to memorize things, would have a much more difficult time participating in our society.

    Great post!

  6. Thank you for sharing! I see your point about all the benefits but I also think there needs to be some balance in how much we depend on technology. I kept thinking of the example of being able to come up with the answer to a mathematical calculation or solving an equation by mechanistically learning the steps (i.e. which buttons to press) without really understanding the process. I agree with you on how convenient it can be for tasks of memorization so I think it is more about learning how to use it responsibly so that we don’t give up too much control or stall our own growth.

  7. Great post Nicole! I often find myself and others saying “Google it!” when we can’t remember the name of a famous person or a movie or song. Then someone in the group usually comments that we don’t use our memory the way we should and that we rely too much on the Internet for things. And this usually goes back and forth for what feels like hours sometimes. I’ve stopped thinking that I’ve become reliant on Google to be my memory and have come to the realization that those facts that I “forgot” were actually replaced by more important things I need to remember in order to graduate with a Ph.D.

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