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The Science Author Clive Thompson Does Not Think Tech Is Ruining Your Mind

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Clive Thompson

"Memory has always been social. Now we're using search engines and computers to augment our memories," says technology writer Clive Thompson.

Credit: Tom Igoe

In an interview, technology writer Clive Thompson explains why he believes technology is improving human intelligence.

"There is something about the ability to externalize our thoughts and compare them with other people in a public way that is really transformative for the average person," Thompson says.

He also believes that computers are augmenting, rather than supplanting, the human memory, which has always relied on outside sources such as written notes, books, and other people. Thompson says people are "social rememberers [who use] our co-workers, our partners, and our friends to help us retrieve the details about things that they are better at remembering than we are." In addition, he says the Internet gives users an "ambient awareness" of current issues and other people's lives as they follow small posts over a long period of time.

Thompson says computers also provide a resource for what he calls the "tip-of-the-tongue syndrome" that occurs when people almost remember a piece of information, but need help retrieving it. "The problem is, our brains have always been terrible at remembering details," he says, noting that people used to resolve this by asking other people. "Now we have machines that help us resolve tip-of-the-tongue."

From The New York Times
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