Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tools that Help Us Think

"Back in 2004, I asked [Google founders] Page and Brin what they saw as the future of Google search. 'It will be included in people's brains,' said Page. 'When you think about something and don't really know much about it, you will automatically get information.'

'That's true,' said Brin. 'Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world. Right now you go into your computer and type a phrase, but you can imagine that it could be easier in the future, that you can have just devices you talk into, or you can have computers that pay attention to what's going on around them and suggest useful information.'

'Somebody introduces themselves to you, and your watch goes to your web page,' said Page. 'Or if you met this person two years ago, this is what they said to you... Eventually you'll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer."

-From In the Plex by Steven Levy (p.67)

Technology can be really creepy sometimes. Seriously.
Remember that old song, Video Killed the Radio Star?
I don't want that to be paralleled by Machine killed the Human Spirit. I think that technology is AMAZING. When I was younger I would just be on Google looking up interesting things for hours at a time (before I discovered Reddit, boo-yah). Google as a tool has opened my mind to a million and one things I never would have learned about otherwise; being able to find things out at the touch of a button has helped me see through others eyes. That's how it's helped me in my thinking. HOWEVER, what Page was talking about sounds a lot like a computer doing the thinking for you. Being completely theater nerdy about this: the arts are already becoming formulaic. They say there are only eleven plots in fiction...but every once in a while, some beautiful piece of cinema will come out and remind us of the magic that was once the silver screen. Or a song will be written. Or a graphic designed. Or a score composed. These things are the very fruit of the human spirit. Consider Shakespeare's work that has transcended the ages and will continue to entrance readers way beyond our generation; whether be he one man or many, plays such as Hamlet capture the very essence of what it is to be human.
Perhaps the technology in our brains is the next step in evolution. I don't know. But I do know that I want to hang on to the individual thinking that makes me alive for as long as possible. The internet is great, but I don't want it inside my head!

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