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Rogelio Galindo
Mrs. Miller
BPC 110
December 8, 2015
Technology is Changing the Way We Think
In the book Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the
Better, author Clive Thompson claims that technology is changing the way that we think, and our
lives, positively. He uses many real world examples of how technology is changing society in
both good ways and bad. However, he always follows up a negative thing that he said with
something positive about that subject. Clive talks just about everything regarding to technology
from lifeloggers to how computers help children learn high level math. Thompson talks about a
variety of subjects but his main points are how technology has improved our thinking, increased
our productivity, and created a wave of innovation worldwide.
Thompson focuses a lot on how technology has changed the way we think. The subtitle
of his book is about how our thinking has improved. This may sound like technology simply
made our brains better, but that is not really what it means. Computers have increased our
cognitive abilities not by making us smarter, but by being a tool to for us to use. Lifeloggers are
people who record their every waking moment with cameras, microphones and any other tool
that will keep a record of what theyve done that day. They do this to have a record of everything
they do so that if they cannot remember something, they just go look it up on their computer.
Thompson talks about Gordon Bell, a lifelogger, and how having an artificial memory has
changed his life. If Bell cannot remember something, he can just look it up and according to
Thompson, Bell benefits greatly from it. Thompson describes Bell as someone who needs an

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artificial memory, because Ive rarely met someone so scatterbrained in everyday life
(Thompson 31). This can seem like Bell relies solely on technology to live, but it is not so.
However, they are not attached to their computer because it is only a backup to their brain. As
Thompson mentions, Id expected him to be tied to his computer umbilically, pinging it to call
up bits of info all the time. In reality, he tends to consult it sparingly (Thompson 31-32). Even
someone who has a hard time concentrating on everyday tasks is not glued to his computer. He
only uses his vast collection when necessary which means that our brains are still in control of
our recollection.
Technology does not just help in remembering, but also learning. One example is kids in
fifth grade are able to learn high level math because of computers and the internet. Clive
Thompson spent some time in a classroom at Santa Rita Elementary where the kids use Khan
Academy as a learning tool which tracks their progress and gives the kids rewards in the form of
badges. He saw that Khan gave each kid a personal learning experience and rewards to keep
them interested and create competition. Thompson explained the benefit of using Khan Academy
as, the site lets them learn at their own pace allowing their teacher, Kami Thordarson, to offer
much more customized instruction (Thompson 176). As Thompson explains, a big problem with
the education system is that it is outdated. A painting from the 1350s about a university lecture
shows that the college classroom has not changed a lot since then. More people need to use
computers to enhance their learning because as Thompson explains, neither can reach their full
potential without the other. Thompson begins his book talking about how computers can easily
beat humans at chess because they use brute force and speed to determine each possibility. Deep
Blue, a supercomputer created by IBM beat chess grandmaster because of its power. However, a
few years later, two chess amateurs beat another supercomputer by only using regular computers

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themselves. This brought Thompson to the point he was trying to make, Which is smarter at
chess humans or computers? Neither. Its the two together, working side by side (Thompson
5). Some experts believe that technology is lowering peoples ability to think because they rely
so much on computers, but a snippet in the academic journal Communications of the ACM
written by Hermann Maurer tells why that is not necessarily true. They state that as long as we
can assure two crucial points: independent and creative thinking must not be threatened and we
must still be able to function in a reasonable basic mode if technologies fail (Maurer). This
means that as long as people continue to rely on their brain to do the thinking, everything is fine.
Computers are tools to help people, they just need to learn how to use them correctly.
Computers have not just made people better thinkers, they have made people more
productive. Before, when someone wanted to do research, they had to find an encyclopedia and
read through it, hoping to find enough information about the subject. Now anyone can go online
and find a great deal information in just a few clicks. Instead of having to go to a school or
public library to read the encyclopedia, they can stay at home and use a search engine, saving
them loads of precious time. Thompson talks about Bradley Rhodes, a student at MIT who
created the Remembrance Agent. The Remembrance Agent is a program that records everything
someone types and saves it. Then, when they are writing something else, the Agent will search
everything that they have typed and return with something similar that they have typed before.
Thompson describes it as, It would take the word he wrote and quietly scour through years of
archived e-mails and documents to see if anything hed written in the past was similar in content
to what he was writing about now (Thompson 36). It is like a personal search engine which will
return results relevant to that person. Another way technology increases productivity is that it can
let people share their thoughts and ideas for everyone to see. This is mostly helpful in an office

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setting or group projects. An example that Thompson talks about is how Luis Suarez, an IBM
employee, greatly increased productivity using social networks. Suarez would spend hours
replying to e-mails from colleagues that were asking him simple questions like what he was
working on. To cut time, Suarez posted his status regularly on twitter and IBMs internal
network. Thompson wrote, Soon, his colleagues began sending him fewer status-seeking emails, because they already had the answer; a glance at his feed was faster and more complete
than a query (Thompson 219). Thompson also mentions that Suarez convinced the office to post
questions openly on IBMs network. By doing that, his colleagues stopped sending him those
pesky e-mails that took up so much of his time. Thompson mentions that within a year, it was
down by an incredible 85 percent. Today, he fields barely two e-mails per day (Thompson 219).
PC Magazine article Dont Let Tech Sabotage Your Productivity warns about being to
connected to e-mails. It offers advice to cut down and be more productive like, Do at least 45
minutes of real work before you open email on your computer. You might just find yourself
sucked into that important task and ignoring email until much later, and thats a good habit to
develop (Duffy). These are just a few ways that technology has made people more productive.
If everyone can learn to control how much they get sucked in, they can do everything that they
need to do.
Thompson also focuses heavily on how technology increases innovation. More and more
people are coming up with ideas that help others using technology. There are already a few
example earlier in the paper like Bell and Rhodes who took it upon themselves to so something
productive with technology. Another example that Thompson wrote about is Jonathan Wegener
who created an application called FoursquareAnd7YearsAgo, later renamed Timehop. Timehop
is a tool that logs into someones Foursquare account and then reminds them of everything that

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they posted in Foursquare one year later. It is something that no one had thought of before and a
pretty interesting concept. Ten years ago, no one would have even considered the idea that
Wegener had but technology drives people to be creative. People have new ideas all of the time
but many of them had no way to make them reality. Now, an increasingly popular way to raise
funds is to crowdsource. Crowdsourcing is when someone with an idea, an innovator, posts about
his idea online and asks for funds to build it. If someone likes his product or idea, they can
donate money to that person. If enough people like it, it can become a reality. More and more
ideas are being brought to life this way and more people are realizing it. This can spark
innovation in anyone, knowing that if their idea is good, it can become reality.
So in conclusion, technology changes the way that people think in a number of different
ways. Clive Thompson has found out that technology enhances our thinking, increases
productivity, and sparks innovation. He wrote about these three things all throughout his book
and how the people that he met have changed. Critics are always trying to find something wrong
with technology and how it changes people. Clive Thompson and other articles feel like
technology is a great innovation that has changed numerous lives positively. However, they do
realize that abusing technology is a real problem, so they include tips to be more productive and
use new technology responsibly. Computers and the internet have brought in a new era of
enlightenment, one where when both are working together, people can learn and do anything.

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Works Cited
Duffy, Jill. "Don't Let Tech Sabotage Your Productivity." PC Magazine (2015): 127-130.
Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
Maurer, Hermann. "Does The Internet Make Us Stupid?." Communications Of The ACM
58.1 (2015): 48-51. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
Thompson, Clive. Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds
For The Better. New York: Penguin, 2013. Print.