Evolving Technology, Writing, and Memory

Recently, many people have been questioning rather the quick development of modern technology has been having a diverse effect on human intelligence.  This would be quite serious since  the purpose of technology is to help mankind. Technology is a two-sided coin. On heads it benefits our lives by making our tasks more efficient and giving us the ability to accomplish great feats. On tails it can act as a crouch , making us weak and simple-minded:

“If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling thigs to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.”

This quote was written by the great philosopher Pluto himself . However it was not some sort of prediction about computers but the written language itself.  He believed that writing would decrease human memory and bring about false wisdom and knowledge of fools (http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html). He was only partly right, it is without a doubt true that language does decrease natural memory of human brings. However the benefits of a written language far outweighs this small disadvantages. Language enables knowledge to be stored accurately while human memory is abstract and can easily be influenced. Writing also allows knowledge to be spread to the masses, something that was unheard of before; with knowledge only being held by the elite and being filtered down to the general populace in ways beneficial to those who held power.

So what does writing have to do with our modern dilemma’s. Well everything. Digital memory has allowed mankind to store a ludicrous amount of knowledge in “virtual space”, almost accessible from anywhere in our digitized society. Simple topics are a click away with Google, and for more in depth knowledge, even the common men can get his hands on valued texts and writings through academic search engines. The age of digitization pushes the limits of writing even further by making storage and accessibility infinitely more easier.

However, because of this “infinite accessibility”, mankind’s memory has been on the decline since we do not use it as much.

Here i will make an important distinction between remembering and reminiscence. Remembering is a process that utilizes all stages of memorization. From storing all the way to recalling. When a person is reminded of something “through written or digitized text”, they do not have to utilize their memories to their full extent. This is because the information is coming from an external source instead from within their minds.

The effects of evolving technology however is not only limited to memory as one might think. As computers continue to evolve and become smarter, what happens if AI become smart enough to initiate self-learning as humans do and actually adept to new mental challenges that it was not specifically built for. Will humans creativity and critical thinking skills also start to deteriorate? Though i hardly suggest that mankind halts its ever marching progress forward, humanity as a whole needs to be cautious of the averse affects of technology and what it means for the individual.

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