Thursday, July 9, 2020

Google It! The Internet and the Nature of Knowing

My latest piece on 3 Quarks Daily discusses one possible effect of the Internet and the vast store of information it puts at our disposal.

"As we increasingly outsource knowledge to Google, Wikipedia, and other online repositories of information, we exclude it from presence in our minds. Knowledge in cyberspace is inert – accessible, but inert, not known by anyone. It does not interact with other knowledge. It does not break apart and recombine into the false memories that are new ideas. It does not produce dreams or nightmares. It does not drive the anxieties and desires that are the source of great art and great science. It just sits there in a passive medium, waiting for a query from a mind that needs to borrow it for a brief time, and then forget it, confident that, if needed, it can be found again through the magic of Google. Such freedom from the need to remember is liberating, but perhaps impoverishing too. While increasing our access to knowledge in countless ways, the Internet also poses a real danger of diminishing the innovative capacities of our minds."

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