The Tool Changes the Brain

A young Computer Scientist named Leonard, who will be attending Carnegie Mellon University sent me this article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”.  The article describes how the use of the Internet is changing our thinking processes:

My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski…

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak frequently of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains

Just so you know, I feel that the Google founders — while very smart and rich guys — are off the mark when it comes to a search engine being the ultimate in artificial intelligence.

While efficiency in locating information is extremely helpful, it’s missing the fact that problem solving and innovation are not the result of just getting answers more quickly (note: this is a concept I grapple with all the time while we help aerospace companies become more efficient in design engineering). Human ingenuity is based on abstract pattern recognition and cognitive processes that are not adequately modeled by current computer scientists.

Thus, in many ways the Google boys are like the early airplane builders who were trying desperately to make the piston engine more efficient. Meanwhile, a group of scientists developed the turbine engine that changed the rules of the game. The artificial intelligence community is still in the age of the propeller airplane. Who is going to rethink the human cognition principles and develop the equivalent of the jet engine for computer science?

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