David Brooks (left) argues in his latest New York Times column that people should let cell phones, media players and personal computers do our thinking for us.
Such devices, Brooks says, tongue-in-cheek, can lighten our cognitive loads, by cultivating our media tastes for us.
Internet services such as Google can also fill the gaps in the memories of both the young and old, which have already been compromised by technology.
In the “The Outsourced Brain,” Brooks, tongue-in-cheek, describes a “romantic attachment” to his car’s Global Positioning System navigation device, which eliminates the need for him to remember directions.
Brooks is making a satirical cultural observation–that individuals are routinely tapping artificially intelligent agents and databases (such as the notoriously corrupt, and inaccurate, Wikipedia) to compensate for their memory lapses, even their lack of creativity.
So-called internet “music discovery services,” for example, suggest new songs for your library, based upon the contents of your computer hard drive. (I have written about some of these services in my Boston Globe column.)
Outsourcing our brains to the digital “external mind” could damage our original grey matter, which transhumanists clinically refer to as our “wetware,” some neuroscientists believe.
Brooks presents his piece as satire. But his advertising industry contacts clearly expect to benefit from the wetware-to-hardware migration.
Those contacts include brand managers for several mobile phone companies. Their aim: to turn consumers “brand fanatics”–people who are addicted to particular products and services. Continue reading