google is warping my mind

The “One Best Method”, is the term coined by Frederick Winslow Taylor, the creator of the preciseGoogle Dunce instructions for how each worker should work.  This precise “algorithm” has been adopted by manufacturer’s factory laborers since the Industrial Revolution.  In our present knowledge based economy system, our minds are being designed to process large amounts of information quickly.  In order for this processing of information to be most efficient, a rewiring of the mind must take place. Taylorbelieved he was creating a utopia of perfect efficiency.  He stated “In the past the man has been first, In the future the system must be first.”

 “Don’t Be Evil” is Google’s official corporate motto.  The internet search engine is the high priest of the “new” religion called the internet.  Google has collected terabytes (an amount of information that has surpassed its own name “googol”) of behavioral data through its search engines and conducts experiments to refine the algorithms that control how people find information and meaning from it, according to Harvard Business Review.  The two founders of Google (one a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park) Larry Page and Sergey Brin declared their mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful….the ultimate search engine would be an artificial intelligence, a HAL like machine connected to our brains.”

Google’s utopia would be for our minds to operate as a high speed data processing machine.  This is essence is set up within the business model of the internet, that model being the more we surf the more we are likely to make an online purchase or make a purchase of a product at a brick and mortar location based on advertising we encountered while online.  Advertisers count on this, this is the basis of Google’s phenomenal revenue explosion.  The more we surf from link to link the better, for those proprietors.  The last thing they want for us is to delve to deeply on any one particular site reading.

Within the article. "Is Google Making Us Stupid" the author, Nicholas Carr primed the reader on the skeptical tone of the paper.  He described the Italian humanist Hieronimo Squarciafico of the 15th century worried the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, making men “less studious” and weakening their minds.  As with most technologies these are usually nay-sayers, and warnings of impending doom once these new technologies become implemented.  And yes these new technologies do have some drawbacks on the old systems already set in place, but there are also many valuable new “myriad of blessings” that these technologies deliver.

With so much time being spent on the internet and the fragmented nature of our attention span, our brain is being rewired each additional hour we engross our self with the Internet surfing.  We practice surfing techniques, while finding particular intricacies of navigation on the internet.

 According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”, expertise requires at least 10,000 hours of practice with any endeavor.  This amount of time spent engrossed in any particular area rewires the brain to a highly tuned response to this particular area, making a person an expert in this particular area.  10,000 hours equate to approximately 10 years of practice at 3 hours a day, everyday.  Studies shows that on average young people will  spend approximately 30,000 hours online, or engrossed with some type of technology, such as internet, cell phones, texting, social networking sites etc.  This on average is 6-9 hours of technology exposure everyday.  This transformation of our brain will be rewired in approximately 3 years.

 What makes us so “addicted” to this type of interactive technology?  According to an article from entitled “Seeking” our brain is already hardwired to love Googling, Tweeting and texting.  This is why we spend so much time doing it.  We actually enjoy random bits of information so called “sound bytes” because it gives a small shot of dopamine to our brain which causes us to seek out for more.

 Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp ofWashingtonStateUniversityhas labeled this emotional state SEEKING.  He believes this is an emotional system shared by all mammals.

 “Seeking is the Granddaddy of the Systems.”  This is the motivator that drives our decisions as we go about our day.  According the author Emily Yoffe,

“Panksepp says humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones.  He says that we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about diving meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.”

 Dopamine which is the chemical neurotransmitter for our brain leads to our seeking and desiring. Opposite of this dopamine is the Opiates which lead to finding and the satisfying signals to the brain which causes us to stop seeking and desiring.  Our brains are prone to seeking rather than satisfaction which desires small, discrete, specific cues that reward is coming. This keeps reward at bay and unsatisfying when it is attained.

Our brain and also our behavior becomes a permanent state of readiness to react to cues of unsatisfying information.  We are in essence driven to toggle with a readiness state of continuous partial attention.

Carr ends the article by relating the haunting end to Stanley Kubrick’s  film 2001  the futuristic computer HAL  being dismantled one circuit at a time while crying out “I can feel it, I can feel it, I’m afraid.” to a state of innocence.  I would agree with this analogy, we are slowly being restructured and rewired to a state of innocence, for easy manipulation.  .  Joseph Campbell once said “ ..will we live for the machine or will we live for the man?”



Carr, Nicholas “Is Google Making us Stupid”

Gladwell, Malcolm “Outliers : 10,000 Hour Rule”

Yoffee, Emily  “Seeking”