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Google vs. Intelligence

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Google is “making us stupid” by contributing to a rising trend of superficial thinking. In this case, the definition of stupidity is based on Nicholas Carr’s belief that Google reduces our intellectual power by narrowing our focus and processing ability, which may alter the structure of our cognitive processes as we adapt to technology. This narrowing of thought impacts our critical thinking abilities, which contributes to our increasing dependence on technology. The combination of superabundant information and the decline of patience and slower thought may be creating a situation where we are passively watching as “our own intelligence flattens into artificial intelligence” (Carr). We seem to be moving towards a model where we lazily substitute Google’s ideas for our own, consuming instead of creating.

Society is moving from a multidimensional approach to gathering information to depending on the Internet as our main conduit of information. The advantages (ease of use, instant availability) seem attractive, which leads to widespread adoption, but the interface itself may limit our intellectual capacity. As Carr observes from media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s work, “media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought” (Carr). Because reading is not an automatic skill for humans, but a learned behavior, our flexible brains may well be building a different cognitive framework to process the new format. The short formats we prefer to read online can therefore influence our thought patterns to be similarly abrupt.

When we develop the habit of consuming large volumes of web content we therefore diminish our “capacity for concentration and contemplation” in f...

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...oogle’s profits soar. By failing to ask Google, “What’s in it for you?” we demonstrate flawed reasoning ability.

If we identify reduced critical thinking skills, a narrowed attention span, a lack of focus, and general intellectual laziness as symptoms of stupidity, the claim that Google makes us “stupid” becomes credible. When we limit ourselves to superficial patterns of thought by narrowing our attention span, we then find ourselves dependent on Google to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, when we rely on Google to bridge these gaps in our intelligence, we reduce our own mental aptitude by blindly accepting the “artificial intelligence” offered by technology instead of relying on our own capacity for reasoning and creativity.

Works Cited

Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid." TheAtlantic.com. The Atlantic Magazine, July/August 2008. Web. 18 February 2012.
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