After reading Engelbart’s framework, I started wondering whether augmentation through new media/technology actually negates the need for people to pursue greater natural intelligence. A little Googling led me to a 2011 article in Scientific American, which claims that our brains have all but reached their evolutionary potential. What was particularly interesting was the ways that the author, Douglas Fox, determined we may continue to develop intellectually–if not biologically:
The human mind, however, may have better ways of expanding without the need for further biological evolution. After all, honeybees and other social insects do it: acting in concert with their hive sisters, they form a collective entity that is smarter than the sum of its parts. Through social interaction we, too, have learned to pool our intelligence with others.
And then there is technology. For millennia written language has enabled us to store information outside our body, beyond the capacity of our brain to memorize. One could argue that the Internet is the ultimate consequence of this trend toward outward expansion of intelligence beyond our body. In a sense, it could be true, as some say, that the Internet makes you stupid: collective human intelligence—culture and computers—may have reduced the impetus for evolving greater individual smarts.
This focus on “collective human intelligence” is particularly interesting in light of Engelbart’s focus on the individual.
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[…] One of us mulled over the possibility that augmentation through new media / technology might be encouraging us to neglect our native / natural intelligence. Another took an in-depth look at the need for and implications of training where new […]