The Salon.com article titled Google Makes Us All Dumber: The Neuroscience of Search Engines probes the ever-increasing reliance on search engines and finds that the way we use them is problematic. This is due to the way our brains respond to this simplified question and answer process. The article stipulates that the harder we work for knowledge, the more likely we are to store it. When it is as simple as typing in a search query and reading a simple answer, we will forget the answer as easily as we found it. The article explains,
“It’s not that the Internet is making us stupid or incurious. Only we can do that. It’s that we will only realize the potential of technology and humans working together when each is focused on its strengths — and that means we need to consciously cultivate effortful curiosity. Smart machines are taking over more and more of the tasks assumed to be the preserve of humans. But no machine, however sophisticated, can yet be said to be curious.”
We are all guilty of using Google as a shortcut to end a fight over a fact or using IMDB to quickly be reminded of that actor what’s-her-name in that movie whatdya-callit. But the article points out that as we lean more on search engines in this fashion it will only shorten our recalls and diminish our ability to ask interesting questions.
Chelsea Kerwin, November 03, 2014
Phi Beta Iota: As Robert Steele has written elsewhere (see “Reflections on China & The Internet” below),
In my view, the Internet is one third human, one third data, and one third processing. The West has demeaned the first, corrupted the second, and made a complete mess of the third. China has an opportunity in Wuzhen, in two weeks’ time, to by-pass the West completely, and go directly to a 21st Century Internet that is designed to do holistic analytics; capture and exploit true cost economic information about all policies, products, behaviors, and services; and that is designed to change every core policy domain from agriculture to education to energy to health and housing to military, transport, and water, with open source everything engineering.
Google does not and did not make us stupid. We made Google stupid by allowing it to steal Yahoo’s search engine (for which it subsequently paid one billion dollars in a quit claim) and go on to create the lowest common denominator of search engines, a search engine that is criminally irresponsible:
Google has replaced Microsoft as the poster child for industrial-era misdirection — what Russell Ackoff would call doing the wrong things righter. Google’s search “service” is criminally deficient — less than .005 (that’s point zero zero five) percent of the substantive web is indexed, and the search results are so biased by human and algorythmic corruption that even locksmiths are suing Google now for lack of due diligience.
Google has also failed to do anything tangible in the sense-making arena (what Howard Rhiengold called for in his 1980’s book, Tools for Thought), but I do give a nod to Google Translate. In brief, Google sucks at multi-lingual multi-disciplinary sources; Google sucks at tools for sense-making, and Google sucks at geospatial visualization of non-geospatial data (Google Maps would not exist without Silicon Graphics and Keyhole Markup Language, they don’t do all-source data).