Technology and the Mind

The rapid use of technology has raised questions about the impacts that this use has to the intellectual ability of humans. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center asked the sample to agree or disagree with this statement: By 2020, people’s use of the internet will have enhanced their intelligence. 76% of the people agreed with this statement, while only 21% disagreed. This shows that most people believe that technology is making humans intelligent. Different scholars have opposing arguments with some arguing that technology has made humans stupid while others argue that technology has made humans smarter. An article ‘Google Effect: is technology making us stupid?’ By Genevieve Roberts disagrees with the idea technology makes us more intelligent by stating that nowadays people pay less attention life itself and become worse at remembering events from our lives. However, Lea Winerman in the article ‘Will Google Make Us Smarter? Internet Experts Say Yes, but With Caveats’ agrees with the stance that technology makes humans human smarter by saving time and helping people to avoid falling into rote learning habits. This essay discusses how technology is changing the minds for the better.

The first reason how technology is changing our minds for the better is by providing huge amounts of knowledge. People nowadays can be able to get the knowledge that they need anytime that they want. Additionally, different institutions are now using technology to aid their provision of higher education. Universities are providing online classes and courses through the help of technology and as a result, many people can receive an education. People do not have to be physically present in these institutions for them to receive an education. People can mingle with their lecturers through the internet. Additionally, people have access to huge amounts of information whenever they need the information. The internet provides a sea of information for people to access. They can be able to skim through all this information in a short time to get the content that the need. Therefore, the internet has played a huge role in making people smart through the provision of education.

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Another way that technology is changing our lives for better is by changing how we live. Through the sea of information provided by technology, people spend less time looking for what they want since they can filter what they are looking for through different search engines. Less time is spent going through information, and the brain is left to perform other tasks. According to Statista, smartphone use in the world has been on the increase. It is estimated that in 2016, smartphone use will reach 2.1 billion users globally. The number is estimated to go up and reach five billion by 2019. Additionally, different mobile applications have been invented to perform different tasks hence solving some of the problems that people face. Through their invention, then these app inventors share their knowledge and help making the world a better place to live. Different applications have been developed to help humans in different ways including following stocks in real time, or even checking the weather. As a result of these inventions, people can become more productive in the tasks that they choose to perform.

Additionally, technology has changed the environment of the human lives, and the environment in return has changed the intelligence of humans. The improvement of the intelligence in humans can be observed in the Flynn effect. The Flynn effect is the sustained increase in all IQ tests (both crystallized and fluid) taken in most parts of the world since the 1930s. Whenever these IQ tests are taken, the tests are brought into line using a sample taking the test. The results are averaged to 100, and the standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. Whenever these tests are revised, they are brought into line by new takers whose birth is more recent than the previous ones. The results are again averaged to 100. It has been observed that whenever a new group takes on the tests, in almost all cases, the average mark is usually significantly above 100. In each decade, the IQ of Americans becomes better by an average of 3 IQ points. This can be attributed to the changing environment necessitated by technology causing the IQ of people to be on the increase. The intellectual environment of human beings is as a result of increased exposure to different forms of visual media. For example, People getting new knowledge from TV, video games, computers, smartphone, YouTube videos, movies, among others. From the above Flynn effect, it has been observed that technology through the betterment of the environment that people live has made people smarter. 

In contrast to the idea that technology makes us smarter, other scholars have argued that technology makes people lazy and stupid. The main argument brought forward is that by presenting people with a sea of information, technology has changed the reading and cognitive skills of individuals, and as a result making people stupid. To be able to read through all this information, human beings have adapted skimming and scanning techniques that affect their levels of concentration as well as cognitive abilities. Nowadays, it has become hard for people who use technology to concentrate whenever reading longer materials. This is because of the nature of materials that is found over the internet that is short, provides summaries at the beginning of the material, as well as pointers to different points that the material is talking about. According to Baral reliance of the internet makes our brains unable to develop the neural connections between materials as a result of being used to reading bits of information. This exposure to the internet also negatively affects the way humans process and interpret information obtained over the internet. Additionally, scholars argue that technology makes people rely on the internet to remember things for them. According to Baral, the use of the internet to remember different events makes people reliant on the internet as a storage facility for information. However, looking things up on the internet takes a short time, in most cases, less than a minute makes humans smarter than in traditional cases where people took hours to look for content in the library. 

In conclusion, technology has continued to make our lives better each day. As has been observed technology use has been on the rise, and the number of people using smartphones in the world is set to reach 2.1 billion this year. The IQ tests performed in the Flynn effect shows that since the 1930s, the average IQ for the world has continued to increase. Through technology, people have access to huge amounts of information that they can wade through in a matter of minutes. As a result, less time is used to look for information on the internet. This is in contrast to traditional times when people spent huge amounts of time in the library looking for different materials that they required. Nowadays, we depend on more on our technologies than ever before, and we can do more with this reliance. Therefore, continual use of technology will make us smarter, more capable and more productive.

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