Is Intelligence Stripped By Technology?

“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr is a cynical look at the progression of technology in our society. The opening metaphor takes from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey where an astronaut is nearly sent to death by a malfunctioning computer. The astronaut, Dave Bowman, is disconnecting the circuits that control the machine’s brain.

It is as if Carr believes the opposite is happening in society today. Instead of disconnecting our computer’s brain, it seems like the computers and iPhones are disconnecting ours. “The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing,” says Carr of his literature-savvy friends. And if a published writer’s friends are having trouble staying focused on long pieces of writing, how are 3rd graders whose lunch and (declining) recess are filled with YouTube short clips suppose to stay focused on anything that requires more than 5 minutes of their time.

It is no doubt that the internet is taking away attention spans, that is not up for debate. The debate here is if Google is actually making us “stupid.” Personally, I believe the vast amount of information available at our finger tips couldn’t possibly make is dumb. As technology changes and makes certain parts of our life easier, we need to adapt and use it for our benefit.

Spell check, for example, has nearly destroyed my entire generations spelling abilities. We don’t need it because any blunder has a squiggly red line under it. Does that make is stupid? That’s like saying I’m stupid because I am incapable of catching a chicken, plucking its feathers, draining its blood, cleaning it up and cooking it over an open flame. I’m not dumb, I just don’t need to do things technology can do for me.

Carr admittedly says he might be “just a worrywort,” and it is for good reason. Google is making us lazy. If we allow our laziness to overpower our hunger for knowledge, than it will make us less intelligent over time. If we become completely reliant on our machines and no longer retain information because it is so easily accessible, then we are becoming stupid. Is it possible that our future will be reflective on that? Definitely. Has it happened yet? I don’t believe so.

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