The Internet Is Making Us Dumb!
Couple of months back in May at the Google I/O Keynote 2013, an attendee had asked Larry Page: Is the ‘instant search’ not killing our innovative thought process? He, then, brushed it aside saying it was there to ‘help’ users. However, all such tech innovations are not necessarily helping us…
Technology was ‘developed’ to make us smart. So that we could save time from monotonous tasks and devote more towards constructive ones.
What really has happened is, while smartphones got created, smart people did not! The net is there but the users have evolved back in time.
Scientists always doubted that we would tend NOT to purposefully remember things when we know their access is easy. Now their fears have come true – a recent study has now found out that Google, actually, has made our brain lazy.
The rise of internet, especially Google, has convinced our brain not to store much in our memories and sub-consciousness, as practically the whole world is at our fingertips.
The brain has, of recently, evolved in such a manner that we tend to forget things which we are sure of finding online and remember only those which may not be available online.
For eg: we may not forget where we kept our car keys or our toothbrush but we may surely not try to remember who won the IPL or what is the capital of China.
Researchers had predicted it…
A 2011 study had revealed the same thing – Lead researcher Betsy Sparrow, of Columbia University, had then said: ‘Since the advent of search engines, we are reorganizing the way we remember things. Our brains rely on the internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.’
Professor Sparrow also found that we are better able to remember where to find something online than we are at remembering the information itself. Her team’s study is believed to be the first research of its kind into the impact of search engines on human memory organization.
A spokesman for Grant’s Whisky which commissioned the survey in which 2000 adults in UK were surveyed said that it found less than half of people surveyed could name the year when Princess Diana died, even though it happened as recently as 1997.
Many respondents did not even know the year in which the terror attacks on the World Trade Center took place while many others were clueless about when the Berlin Wall fell.
When enquired further, it was revealed that as the respondents were confident that they could find out the answer on the internet, or more precisely Google, they didn’t care or put the efforts to remember it!
As many as 87 per cent of those who took part said a ‘heavy reliance’ on the internet meant they made less of an effort to remember things ‘because we can look them up’.
The survey was conducted in the UK, where already internet penetration is among the highest in the world, it being one of the world’s most developed countries and people rely on the internet much more than anywhere else.
Yes, the result would have been disastrous if the survey was in the US (Americans are mostly thought of as dumb) but surely much, much towards a positive side if the respondents were from say, Germany (considered an intellectual nation) or India.
So the study in itself should not be treated as a catastrophe but yes, it surely does reveal the trend of what is happening among today’s generation. It reminds me of the concern which Barack Obama had once confided, that if American kids don’t brush up their knowledge, they would be left far behind in the race of intellectual domination in the world, most possibly to Indian kids !!!
In a decade or so, we would start relying more on the internet and Google, for many, many things. Already Google reminds you when is your best friend’s birthday, what time you leave for home and which route has the least traffic. AI has made life easier.
Important is, we need to use the grey cells which we preserved into more constructive activities. Else, we all would soon be a slave to technology.