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How Google Is Making ­S Smarter


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Various articles have recently appeared that question whether blogs, text messaging, and the Internet are making people less intelligent. "As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence," wrote Nicholas Carr in a recent Atlantic article.

However, others say that few of the threats and warnings addressed in these articles are based in fact. For example, English linguist David Crystal disputes the idea that texting is ruining people's spelling by arguing that texting actually improves literacy as it provides more opportunities to practice writing and reading. Other warnings are based on popular misconceptions of how the mind works. Some argue that the Internet and technology are blocking the natural world from reaching the mind, but in fact that mind appears to be adapted for reaching out and making the world, including technology, an extension of itself.

Two philosophers, Andy Clark and David Chalmers, explain the idea of the expanding mind by providing two examples — a women capable of remembering the address of the Museum of Modern Art after hearing about a specific display, and a man with Alzheimer's who must look up the address in his notebook after hearing about the display. Clark and Chalmers argue that the woman's brain and the man's notebook, and now technology, are fundamentally the same. The woman is capable of recalling information offhand while the man uses his notebook, a part of his extended mind, to recall information.

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