Does using the search engine when we have a question make the brain lazier and make Internet users more stupid? The question had been asked by Nicholas Carr, in an article published in 2009, and was replicated by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in the 4th survey on the “Future of the Internet”.
Despite recognizing the distractions associated with Internet browsing, the lack of depth of much content and the limitation to the ability to concentrate, the users who responded believe that the most likely scenario is that by 2020 the availability of information on the Internet will allow people to become become smarter and make better choices. In short: Nicholas Carr was wrong and Google doesn’t make us any more stupid.
The study’s co-author, Janna Anderson, shows that three out of four experts consulted agree that using the internet enhances and broadens the intelligence of Internet users, and that two out of three admit that it improves reading and writing skills, as well as the interpretation of knowledge.
The change in cognitive abilities is also recognized. We won’t have to remember so much data, reducing memorization time, but it will be necessary to think more effectively, with more developed critical and analytical skills.
Never Cascio, a partner at the Institute for the Future and a participant in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, had already challenged Nicholas Carr’s theory, explaining that the end of the fossil fuel era, the fragility of the global food system and the growth of population density, as well as the spread of pandemics, will compel us to be smarter if we are to survive. A process that is already underway and visible on the Internet.