Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Resistance is futile!

We are all slowly becoming cyborgs and new research proves it. A a new study conducted by psychologists at Columbia University, the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, and Harvard University has shown that, "We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found." The research proves what many of us have felt for years, we no longer need to remember information, now we remember how to find it.
    When I first started using the Web in the mid 1990s I used to bookmark everything of interest gathering hundreds of bookmarks over the years. However, now I rarely bookmark anything, relying on Google's ability to find anything I need. It's easier (less cognitive effort) to search Google than it is to search through my bookmarks. I still have all those bookmarks but rarely use them (many of the links must be dead now). My use (or not) of bookmarks is analogous to our memories - we used to remember stuff (keep bookmarks) and now we remember how to find stuff (i.e., Google it). You can read the full research report here: Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips.
   The final chapter of The Universal Machine, called Digital Consciousness, deals with our ever increasing close relationship with computers. Star Trek's Borg may be science-fiction but resisting a greater dependence on computers is futile.