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How has Technology Made Us Smarter or Dumber?

This month, in preparation for an event in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival, we're thinking about how technology has helped-- or maybe hurt -- human intelligence. The event includes a Q&A with Clive Thompson, author of 'Smarter Than You Think.'

Head and brain graphic by ThinkStock

The WID community gathers daily at 3 p.m. to take a break, caffeinate and converse. Buzz Tea @ 3 is a monthly series that gathers perspectives on different topics focused on ideas and research. The institute’s Twitter followers can also chime in by replying to @WIDiscovery, posting on its Facebook page or emailing us.

This month, in preparation for an event in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival, we’re thinking about how technology has helped– or maybe hurt — human intelligence. The event, on Oct. 18, includes a Q&A with Clive Thompson, author of ‘Smarter Than You Think.’

Responses from Tea

“We think we’re smarter.”

“Smarter: We can be much more efficient because of technology. Dumber: We can get distracted much more easily because of technology.”

“We don’t have to remember phone numbers as much (therefore, we’re bad at remembering).”

“This comes down to your definition of smarter or dumber.”

“*See the Flynn Effect.”

In reference to the Flynn Effect: “Is technology the confounding variable?”

“Dumber, because people are losing social skills and are not able to do simple things because they rely on some ‘thing’ to do it for them.”

“Technology has made us knowledgable, but not smarter. There is a distinct difference.”

“See Dunning-Kruger effect. I had to look up the name of it on my smart phone.”

“For oft, when on my couch I lie, in vacant, or in pensive mood.”

One person posted this comic:

"Life before Google" comic by David Merrill


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