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View Poll Results: Is technology making us less intelligent?
Yes. 6 15.38%
No. 19 48.72%
The jury is still out. 7 17.95%
I forgot the question. 7 17.95%
Voters: 39. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-21-2005, 07:56 PM   #1
Brian
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Is technology making us less intelligent?

Has technology affected our intelligence for the better or worse? Many would argue that technology has freed us from memorizing trivial information, allowing us to use our intellect in more meaningful ways. Others would argue that as we store more phone numbers, names, appointments, and to-do lists in our devices, our intelligence and memory are suffering the consequences. Do we rely too much on technology and use our brains less than we should?

C|Net has published the first article in a series on the topic of Intelligence in the Internet age. Several important figures in the technology field weigh in on the subject including Jeff Hawkins, the co-inventor of the Palm Pilot, Treo smartphone, and author of the book On Intelligence. From the article:

Working with the Treo handheld computing device he helped create, Jeff Hawkins can easily recount exactly what he did three years ago on Sept. 8, factor 9,982 and Pi, or describe a weather system over the Pacific Ocean. But without his "smart" phone, he can't recall his daughter's telephone number offhand.

Is technology making us smarter or dumber? Please vote in the poll and weigh in on the subject in the discussion thread.

Read the full article here.
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Old 09-21-2005, 08:33 PM   #2
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It used to be that my Palm was something that I liked to have with me.

Then I felt naked without it.

Now, the only reason it's not physically part of me is that I can't take it into the shower with me.
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Old 09-21-2005, 09:29 PM   #3
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I feel naked without my PDA, but the process of trying to keep up with technology has definitely made me smarter. Just trying to define the various acronyms and decipher the babbling geekspeak has kept me on my toes.

No, I don't do long division anymore (not since the 4th grade) and yes, I do forget phone numbers sometimes without my phone or PDA, but those things aren't technology's fault. I might have an analog Day Planner to help me remember my contacts and appointments. Technology has allowed product advances that let us save time on certain tasks and (theoretically) do more during our day.

True, certain analog skills can atrophy if we rely too much on this digital world, and we might be up-the-creek if we ever need those skills (some disaster or something) that lack of certain skills might be exposed. Until then, however, let us enjoy and make use of the technologies we have at our disposal. Many people's around the world don't have access to the technological extremes that us uber-geeks have and they manage somehow.
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Old 09-21-2005, 09:44 PM   #4
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Definitely more stupid in my case (*grunt*). Seriously, the overload of information is so overpowering that it's often impossible for me to concentrate on a single topic. In the past I was happy with what I got and digested it until there was nothing left to explore. Today, I rush over things and hope to recall it later when I need it. I almost feel guilty when I spend too much time on a single subject knowing that there are 100 other things I could go through instead. Yes, sometimes I hate Google for it.
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Old 09-22-2005, 03:29 AM   #5
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I'm in the undecided group, for now. I know I couldn't live without my PDA now (oen reason I like Dell and their excellent support+next day replacement policy). It _remembers_ a lot of things for me (literally hundreds of passwords, notes, contacts, etc). I'm not sure I'd be any smarter without it, though.

I still know how to do all the math in my head if I need to, but I don't need to. I can remember all the most important phone numbers I need when I want them, I look up the rest. I _don't_ remember all my passwords, but I'd probably use only a few if I didn't have the PDA to remember them for me, which isn't the best habit, but is a common one.

I still think it's too early to tell if the technology really makes us dumber. The present day lifestyle requires a lot more us intellectually, and our technology supports that... If we didn't have the tech, we wouldn't need to be as smart!

Craig the fence-sitter.
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Old 09-22-2005, 08:33 PM   #6
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As someone who often feels like a tech-savvy dullard with failing memory, I voted no.

I think it's not the technology itself at the heart of the issue, but rather how we use technology. In many instances, evidence would suggest that we are using technology to do too many things at once. Blame multitasking, which isn't exclusive to the use of technology.

Quote:
For many people, juggling too many things at once is standard practice, but did you know that multi-tasking can actually make you stupid? A new study shows that multi-tasking can hurt your memory and short-circuit your brain power.
When it comes to tasks, we take on too many at once in the name of productivity because technology gives us the ability, and we don't give each task the time and attention necessary to concentrate. When it comes to retaining information, the divided attention caused by multitasking doesn't allow for retention in memory. Some people can multitask, do a great job and retain information, but many of us can't. Over time (in evolutionary terms), our brains may adapt, but in the meantime, multitasking, and not the technology itself, is probably to blame.
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:13 PM   #7
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blast from the past

I agree with the general idea of the thread. I do feel like I am crutched to technology. I always feel anxious if I am not "doing" something at all times. While waiting/sitting I need my ipod and even while doing that I am either reading or playing a game of sorts. Then i wonder why my attentions span is amazingly low.
This environment does not promote intelligent thought. I have tried to hold conversations with my sister's friends (teens) and they have absolutely nothing to talk about aside ( oddly enough) the latest technology. There have been few revolutionary inventors of the likes of Ben Franklin.

I do admit that technology has helped us a lot in getting things done, but along with it also came additional things that need to be done (log on here, reply there, enter that data, keep up with that blog, read that paper...ect.)

Joe Rogan put this idea in a funny aspect... video
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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I think that as time has passed we've had to face making certain things less important, at least as far as using up space in our memory is concerned. If I have my phone numbers stored in my cell, my home phone, a paper copy in a notebook and on my pcs, then I don't "need" to remember them myself.

.... of course I'm sure we've all been faced with that one moment where, none of those things are available to us and we try, usually in vain, to remember the number of the person we're calling.

Is that stupidity, or just mental busy-ness which takes up so much "space" we're unable to fit in the rest? As an example, I can tell you my first phone number (476-3584), my grandma's (9683585), the numbers for school, my first jobs, my earliest friends first numbers... I cannot tell you my friends numbers from now. Not even one of them! I Do remember my bosses number, but only because when I misdialed it, I'd get my prior boss and that was a no go

I can quote you the statistics for the caseload breakdown in my area, the state as a whole, the phone numbers of the IT folks I deal with, their names and office locations (and in some cases their home counties). I can tell you who works where and for whom in all 4 offices and 3 outposts here. I can probably give you their sign on numbers for one of the state systems and most of their email addresses here.

To me, these things aren't more important than "real" life stuff... however, they do keep the hounds of hell (aka bosses, people up on yon high, bosses bosses, etc) off my back...IF I remember them... So, I do.

Maybe it's just the way that corporate life has made us think that the "Job" is all, and anything else is just (or should be) a minor annoyance. Again, not really true, but something the yuppy generation agreed to, so we're all kind of stuck with it.
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:51 PM   #9
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What a blast!

Technology...I've always been reluctant to accept it. The relationship I have with electronic gadgets is filled with fear, despise, anguish and admiration. I hate dependences of all sorts but am, more and more, dependent to my computer.
I only got a computer and hooked up to internet - cable - phone service last October, because I was going back to school and needed the net connection for it. If people wanted to join me before that, they could either write, come knocking on my door or try my cell (rarely worked though). I'd call my mom and a few of my friends from work every week or so, so they'd know I was alive, and even now, I rarely answer my phone (I can talk a lot on the phone, but only when I'm in the mood, otherwise I hate it) but I check my mails 10 times a day.
I've had a few cell phones but almost every one of them got shut down for lack of use, and the only reason I have one now is because it's a loadable with prepaid cards one.

What I find distressing is that I know I would struggle if something happened to my computer, I'm dependent of it now. As for being more or less intelligent: I think I know now about many more things, but what I knew and learned before I learned fully, I didn't just scratch the surface as I do now. And the shorting attention span is getting a big (huge) issue too. But could I cut the internet use now?
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:02 PM   #10
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I suffer from calculator brain! I can no longer add two two digit numbers without a calculator. And forget about long division!
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:20 PM   #11
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Technology is definitely making people dumber. Now-a-days instead of reading a book or studying the kids are watching television, and playing video games, most of which have no educational value. But then it might just be that the people I have to deal with on a daily basis are uncommonly dumb.
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceili View Post
If I have my phone numbers stored in my cell, my home phone, a paper copy in a notebook and on my pcs, then I don't "need" to remember them myself.

::snip::
As an example, I can tell you my first phone number (476-3584), my grandma's (9683585), the numbers for school, my first jobs, my earliest friends first numbers... I cannot tell you my friends numbers from now. Not even one of them!
Yup, but they had mini phone books way back when before cell phones...


I can also tell you my old house number and such from my childhood years, but now i still have to consult my business card to remember my cell #!!!!
I think its that we put much less demands on our brain.
Like some tv show said..." The brain is a muscle too!!!"

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Originally Posted by Verencat View Post
What a blast!
What I find distressing is that I know I would struggle if something happened to my computer, I'm dependent of it now. As for being more or less intelligent: I think I know now about many more things, but what I knew and learned before I learned fully, I didn't just scratch the surface as I do now. And the shorting attention span is getting a big (huge) issue too. But could I cut the internet use now?
I do the same thing! If I ever need to know what is something i go to wiki (and even that i skim!). Where as before I used to go to the library and research.
Another bad habit is the mulitpple tabs. i never do one thing at a time...
Then i forget. I always say that im getting Netzymers at the age of 25...

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Originally Posted by wodin View Post
I suffer from calculator brain! I can no longer add two two digit numbers without a calculator. And forget about long division!
AMEN! I can't even remember my times tables past #5

sheesh im not looking too impressive of a person to talk to on this forum... huh?
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:44 PM   #13
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I can tell you my first phone number (476-3584)
On the other hand, my first phone number was much easier to remember, it was three digits (714), and if you couldn't remember that you could just tell Sandra Brathol (the operator) who you wanted to talk to, and she'd hook you up!
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:45 PM   #14
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I don't think technology is responsible for dumbing people down. And it also depends on which countries you're looking at too. I think Japan is out performing United States in math and science and Japan is hooked up to technology just as much if not more so than American students.
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Old 06-26-2009, 03:15 PM   #15
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I don't think technology is responsible for dumbing people down. And it also depends on which countries you're looking at too. I think Japan is out performing United States in math and science and Japan is hooked up to technology just as much if not more so than American students.
Yep. I guess part of it is due to attitude, too.

You'll often see in US TV shows and movies that it's cheerleaders and jocks who are popular and are treated as "first-class" citizens, especially on shows which take place in high school. Geeks are to be ignored or bullied. The emphasis is in looks and physical prowess.

Watch a Japanese anime or read a manga and you'll notice it's the smart people, the ones who are top of their class, etc, that are lauded. It also seems that schools over there are pretty strict. There are national ranking exams that all students have to take.

Sure, it might not be an exact depiction of society, but I think both have sufficient basis in real life.

Last edited by ilovejedd; 06-26-2009 at 03:18 PM.
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