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Smart Technology Is Making Us Dumb

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Smart technology grants us unprecedented, immediate access to knowledge and to each other'€”a ubiquitous and seamless presence in everyday life. But is there a downside to all of this connectivity? It'€™s been said that smart technology creates dependency on devices, narrows our world to echo chambers, and impairs cognitive skills through shortcuts and distraction. Are smart tech devices guiding so much of our decision making that we are losing autonomy without even realizing it? Or are these concerns an overstatement of the negative effects of high-tech consumption?


Technology changes the way we live our daily lives, the way we learn, and the way we use our faculties of attention -- and a growing body of research has suggested that it may have profound effects on our memories (particularly the short-term, or working, memory), altering and in some cases impairing its function.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Carolyn Gregoire

We have built a generation of “distraction machines” that make great feats of concentrated effort harder instead of easier. It’s time to create more tools that help us with what our brains are bad at, such as staying on task.

Monday, September 9, 2013
Tim Wu

The little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are.

Saturday, April 21, 2012
Sherry Turkle

Articles in this series examine how a deluge of data can affect the way people think and behave: <br />- <a href="" target="_blank">Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction</a><br />- <a href="" target="_blank">Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime</a> <br />- <a href="" target="_blank">Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain</a> <br />- <a href="" target="_blank">Attached to Technology and Paying a Price</a>

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
New York Times

We’re already building the metropolis of the future—green, wired, even helpful. Now critics are starting to ask whether we’ll really want to live there.

Sunday, May 19, 2013
Courtney Humphries

How technology is expanding our minds.

Thursday, March 7, 2013
Will Oremus

As much as we love our digital devices, many of us have an uneasy sense that they are destroying our attention spans… Research shows that our intuition is wrong.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Daniel T. Willingham

Amid the silly videos and spam are the roots of a new reading and writing culture, says Clay Shirky. His TED talk on how cognitive surplus will save the world can be viewed <a href=" target="_blank">here</a>.

Friday, June 4, 2010
Clay Shirky

Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Clive Thompson

Moderated by Andrew Keen, a panel discusses how smart machines will enable and enhance human minds, with Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs and AT&amp;T’s SVP of Network Operations John Donovan.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
2014 CES Keynote Discussion

The first machine age relieved some of the limitations of our own human muscles for manipulating the world. The second machine age is about doing something similar for our cognitive capabilities.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson

New tools are tilting health-care control from doctors to patients.

Friday, January 9, 2015
Eric J. Topol

When city dwellers use the internet to make smarter, more informed choices, cities become smarter too.

Saturday, November 1, 2014
Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report

Experts predict the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie

Pew Research Center’s major findings on the state of smartphone ownership in America today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Aaron Smith

Rather than crushing them with too much information and making it hard to find useful material, most Americans say the internet and cell phones have brought benefits in learning, sharing and diversifying the flow of information into their lives.

Monday, December 8, 2014
Kristen Purcell and Lee Rainie

Many experts say the rise of embedded and wearable computing will bring the next revolution in digital technology.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie

A revolution in technology is allowing previously inanimate objects—from cars to trash cans to teapots—to talk back to us and even guide our behavior. But how much control are we willing to give up?

Saturday, February 23, 2013
Evgeny Morozov

In our houses, cars, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bill Wasik

Technology, which allows us to augment and extend our native capabilities, tends to evolve haphazardly, and the future that is imagined for it—good or bad—is almost always historical, which is to say, naive.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
Sue Halpern

The smart city sector is still in the "I know it when I see it" phase, without a universally agreed definition. The Council defines a smart city as one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

For millennia humans have relied on one another to recall the minutiae of our daily goings-on. Now we rely on “the cloud”—and it is changing how we perceive and remember the world around us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward

As the Internet has become a nearly ubiquitous resource for acquiring knowledge about the world, questions have arisen about its potential effects on cognition. Here we show that searching the Internet for explanatory knowledge creates an illusion whereby people mistake access to information for their own personal understanding of the information.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Matthew Fisher

An ebook presenting diverse views, experiences, and insights on key challenges and opportunities.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Urs Gasser and Sandra Cortesi

In a survey about the future of the internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split as to whether the younger generation’s always-on connection to people and information will turn out to be a net positive or a net negative by 2020.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie