The pub argument is dead. Google killed it with a little help from your smartphone. Instead of long fought debates about who’s right and who’s wrong, an answer is nearly always within easy reach.
With so-called intelligent personal assistants becoming more sophisticated, it won’t be long before we have the same kind of access to information as the characters from Star Trek: “Siri, at maximum warp how long will it take to reach the bar?”
The question is, does this make us knowledgeable experts or is the easy access to information making us stupid?
Searching for answers
A recent study suggests that our modern lifestyles are making us “less intelligent” than our ancestors, at least at a genetic level. This research echoes concerns Einstein had when he supposedly said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
The immediate availability of information has created a particular conundrum in our modern society. When it takes a mere few seconds to find information about almost any topic, the value of knowledge and expertise is being devalued as information becomes cheaper and more accessible. This is despite the fact that information, knowledge and expertise are fundamentally different entities.
For example, suppose you have spent 15 years successfully studying advanced rocket science at a reputable institution; that should qualify you as an expert. But I’m sure I could find someone prepared to argue with you about the finer points of Saturn V design based on something they read in passing on Wikipedia. Does that make them an expert? Surely not.
Our relationship with and understanding of knowledge and expertise has struggled to keep pace with the rapid democratisation of information. Symptoms of this lag can be seen all around us, particularly in our education systems.
Source: The Conversation