Before the Internet, we needed to be adept at figuring out how to solve problems. Now, all we need to know is where to search to find the solution.
We rely upon our tools to organise our lives - computers, smartphones, apps, Websites, etc. If these were to disappear tomorrow, there would be chaos and we would be lost.
Furthermore, most of our daily tools have become addictive. How often do you check your phone each day? Do you do it in the presence of other people, even when they're talking to you? This behaviour is only encouraged as more and more activities in our lives become 'ramified'.
Big Data promises to help us identify patterns amongst enormous complexity, so that we can design algorithms that help us predict the future and make important decisions. Unfortunately, we often don't understand the relationship between cause and effect, preferring to trust the algorithm than figure out what's really going on. Big Data solutions, then, beget more information but less knowledge.
Crowdsourcing and outsourcing tools allow us to combine expertise of other individuals without developing any internal know-how. Thus, we can build more complex projects without actually going through a learning-curve ourselves.
On the World Web Wide, site owners are told that they have less than 3 seconds to grab someone's attention, or else they bounce off and go elsewhere. Consequently, headlines, photos, videos and commercials scream and shout at us. We become immunised to images that were once disturbing to us (i.e. news footage of atrocities). We become less empathetic and struggle to concentrate on one idea for more than a minute at a time.
Reading novels has been shown to nurture empathy, as readers are put into the minds and lives of others. Novel reading, however, is on the decline amongst young people.
Most of our technology distracts and disturbs us, leading to scattered and superficial thinking. Multi-tasking is a myth. The human brain is not good at it, despite what we tell ourselves. Instead, we grow better at not being able to think deeply about anything important to us. Concentration and contemplation become not just a luxury, but a skill that is lost to us.
In all of the above, our attention is divided - preventing us from leading richer inner lives. "To be everywhere is to be nowhere," said Seneca. Our thoughts become fractured, our memories weaken, our creativity languishes, our critical thinking diminishes, and our relationships suffer.
We are growing stupider by the hour.
What do you think...?
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We are reaching the limits of human cognition. In order to make new discoveries, a student of a particular discipline must retrace all of human knowledge that came before in order to master the principles and foundations that have been established. As human knowledge explodes, this is taking longer and longer to achieve. In some disciplines, the amount of knowledge is so immense that it takes one in a billion to actually master and make a truly break-through discovery - and, even then, it take other people decades to understand it themselves, if at all.
We are reaching a point where new breakthrough discoveries can only be made by machines that crunch Big Data that is too complex for human understanding. We don't even understand the theorems that the machines derive, either. Gradually, machines will become our masters when it comes to radically pushing the boundaries of science.
For more on this: Read this post.--David G. Wilson
When I first saw a slide rule, it taught me that there are patterns and relationships between numbers. Before calculators, I was required to solve complex problems by first remembering how to derive the equations I needed from simpler equations. Then, when scientific calculators arrived, I was no longer required to remember the equations, because there were preset buttons. Now that I have the Internet, I can get answers without needing to know how they were solved.
It seems that the more technology we have to hand, the less we need to know how things work.--David G. Wilson