Is Google Making Us Stupid?
Is technology something that is helping the society, or is it helping it but making people stupid at the same time? Before that can be answered, one should first know what it means by intelligence. If indeed, Google reduces that level of intelligence, then it does make one stupid. Based on facts and recent research, Google may indeed make people stupid, although there is evidence that is contrary to the claim.
Google may actually reduce general intelligence by taking over the reasoning process. General intelligence is made up of abstract thinking abilities, particularly the ability “to acquire knowledge, to reason abstractly, to adapt to novel situations, and to benefit from experience and instruction” (“Defining”). However, Google disturbs general intelligence in a way. According to Joseph Weizenbaum, an MIT computer scientist, technology, like Google, especially “intellectual technologies” would make the decisions for people and thus would make them stop listening to their senses and start obeying these technologies (Carr). This means that Google overrides the ability of the brain to reason abstractly and make decisions for himself until the person cannot adequately reason for himself anymore.
Moreover, Google takes over the brain’s job of acquiring knowledge. In fact, in a 2016 study in the universities of California and Illinois, those who got used to the Internet experienced “cognitive offloading” (Thompson). This means that they try to search the Internet even with questions that can be answered by merely thinking about them. This means that if one has got accustomed to looking for something up online, the tendency is to give up thinking or to remember things (Thompson). This then means that it weakens the aspect of general intelligence to acquire knowledge. Thus, Google may negatively affect intelligence.
However, there are two arguments that point to the opposite. One is that, through Google, the Internet removes the idea of rote learning or memorizing dates, facts, and names. In short, the Internet has freed up many cognitive resources for many other important things (Thompson). This means that Google makes people active searches and researchers of information and not just mere receivers of meaningless information that should be memorized. Secondly, Google may actually improve any of the eight specific bits of intelligence proposed by Howard Gardner. According to Howard Gardner, there are eight bits of intelligence and not just one. Some of these include linguistic, musical, interpersonal, and naturalistic (“Defining”). In short, Google may not improve general intelligence, but it may positively affect any of the other intelligence proposed by Gardner.
If one should consider general intelligence, especially the ability to reason out decisions and the ability to acquire information, Google may replace the human function. Thus, in such cases, it is possible that Google can make one stupid. However, the arguments that Google removes rote learning tendencies and that Google may develop any of the other bits of intelligence point out that the opposite claim is also possible. Whether Google may make us stupid or more intelligent, the answer to the confusion is more research and a long-term study that will really give more reliable results.
Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic, 2008, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2018.
“Defining and Measuring Intelligence.” University of Minnesota, 2012, http://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/chapter/9-1-defining-and-measuring-intelligence/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2018.
Thompson, Stephanie. “Scientists Say Google is Changing Our Brains.” We Forum, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/how-google-is-changing-our-brains/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2018.
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