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Intelligence in the age of Google - speaking notes

Intelligence in the age of Google - speaking notes

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Published by John Koetsier

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Published by: John Koetsier on Oct 30, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Intelligence in the age of GoogleWHO SAID THIS?
"People who invent new technologies are not the best judges of their usefulness andvalue.Your invention will not help people to get smarter and learn more; it will in fact cause theexact opposite … they will forget more and learn less.You have not invented a better memory but just a way to search for thoughts.And the students who use your invention will not in fact acquire real-world knowledgebut rather data. They will think they know much when in fact they are incrediblyignorant. And because of this misconception, they will be a burden to society."- Thamus, the king of a great city of Upper Egypt … via Socrates … 2500 years ago
What did it mean to be intelligent in ancient Greece?- great memory? think of poets and their loooong songs/histories- reasoning?- verbal ability?What did it mean to be intelligent in medieval times?- could read and write- memory- books- knew Latin- knew the BibleWhat did it mean to be intelligent in the 19th and 20th century?- memory still a big deal- sources- booksWhat about today? What does it mean to be intelligent today?- are you as smart in person as you are on Skype, when you have access toGoogle?
OK … let's define intelligence …- 1800s Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, measured scientists' headsizes to determine intelligence (no correlation was found)- Alfred Binet: intelligence is not a single thing; it's many- Gardner, 1993 book on Multiple Intelligences … problem solving (including theability to create new problems: creativity)1) Linguistic intelligence;2) Logical-mathematical intelligence;3) Spatial intelligence;4) Musical intelligence;5) Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence;6) Interpersonal intelligence;7) Intrapersonal intelligence- going to settle on problem-solving: the ability to get stuff done. (And dream upnew stuff to do.)
One of the reasons I wrote a paper about Google and intelligence is Nicholas Carr's2008 article "Is Google Making Us Stupid," which was published in a trade magazine,the Atlantic Monthly. Car is primarily concerned with the effect that the web in general,with its preference for immediacy and brevity … which he argues tends to reduce ourability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time … our ability to engage in whatCarr and others call "deep reading."The google generation, however, is dealing with far more than just a distractible multi-tasking mindset. Google and its competitors may be fostering other attitudes which areinimical to deep learning as well. Does Google, for example …- makes us think that everything has an answer?- makes us think that all answers are findable?- makes us think that answers should come quickly if we can just search for theright words?- makes us less dependent on our own thinking and more willing to be dependenton others?- makes us think that everything should be knowable after a quick 5 minute scan ofa web page?When I interviewed a high school teacher about this question, here's what he had tosay:
"Since Google, students need an answer quickly, so they don't know how to use aglossary or index. They want something right away, and to look back to a previousparagraph is too much effort."and"At times it may end up giving people a real quick fix to a problem and they may not beactually forced to think it through."He’s actually saying two things here. First, that students in some cases are seekingquick answers that others have created – received wisdom, so to speak - so they don’thave to undergo the intolerable mental stress of building interlocking edifices ofconjectures that lead to principles. And second, he’s saying that not only have studentsin some cases lost their desire to undertake the heavy intellectual lifting that is part ofthe traditional learning process … they’ve also even lost the ability to personally seekfor answers. After all, why read or even scan an old-fashioned dead tree tome when amulticolored electronic butler will do it for you?That’s a serious challenge to an education system. Regardless of whether teachers areusing digital or analog tools, if students don’t want to figure out the answer and alsowon’t strain themselves to find it personally, teaching anything beyond search andretrieval skills starts to sound like a significantly difficult uphill battle.This veteran teacher’s statement sounds eerily similar to comments reported bytechnology writer and author Nicholas Carr, who wrote the widely-discussed article IsGoogle Making Us Stupid in mid-2008. In it, Carr cites pathologist and educator BruceFriedman, who recently confessed that he has now “almost totally lost the ability to readand absorb a longish article on the web or in print."What's going on here?Some researchers have suggested that it's easier to teach (and to learn)
… (Bencze and Bowen).
is a series of facts …
is factsmarshalled, corralled, organized, combined with deep understanding and exploited inthe service of a goal.Does Google privilege about over how? Or is that just continuing a native humantendency? This is something to study further. But we know from as early as McLuhanthat media are NOT neutral.We're not going to solve this today, but it is worth noting that many researchers alsobelieve that digital technologies are unleashing significant educational a opportunity.Fischer and Konomi talk about technology and media helping us to “transcend

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