Is Google Making Us Stupid?

1. Carr discusses the effect of the Internet (and Google in particular) on the human intellect.

2. While conceding that the Internet offers distinct advantages in research and writing, Carr concludes that its use reduces the human mind to an artificial ghost of its former self.

3. Interesting quotations:

  • “The process of adapting to new intellectual technologies is reflected in the changing metaphors we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their brains as operating “like clockwork.” Today, in the age of software, we have come to think of them as operating “like computers.” This notes the tendency of humans to compare their minds to the most precise or advanced technology available, revealing a sort of anthropic chauvinism in humans.
  • “Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly it’s reprogramming us.” (emphasis mine) This statement reveals that, although the Internet was originally programmed by man, the reverse relationship applies in a significant way. Carr also considers this idea when he discusses Nietzsche’s adoption of the typewriter, a human invention which, nonetheless, “reprograms” his writing style.

4. Confusing quotations:

  • “… the conception of the world that emerged from the widespread use of timekeeping instruments ‘remains an impoverished version of the older one, for it rests on a rejection of those direct experiences that formed the basis for, and indeed constituted, the old reality.'” Although mechanical clocks, when used improperly, conceivably can lead to an improper veto of the human internal clock (and they likely have), it seems that they could also be used to enhance these instincts. For example, if it is determined experimentally that a person ought to sleep a certain number of hours on any given night, a clock can be used to enforce this schedule without undermining instincts (provided the instincts are, indeed correct). In essence, this seems to be an impoverished view only if the clock is used to enforce a schedule inferior to that mandated by the instincts in question.
  • “‘In the past the man has been first,’ he declared; ‘in the future the system must be first.'” !!! This is rather unsettling. Does Taylor really mean to imply that men ought to be considered less important than machines in general, or just in the factory setting? Either way, doesn’t this undermine the initial purpose of the factories of more efficiently producing goods for human consumers?

5. Another Carr article This article considers how ghostwriters (and particularly computerized ghostwriters) remove the personal human element from the social media. Considering his sarcastic tone, Carr evidently does not support this removal.

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One thought on “Is Google Making Us Stupid?

  1. The Taylor quote is indeed disturbing… I would venture to translate “the system must be first” as a declaration that the prioritization of the system would lead to the greater flourishing of humanity. ?

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