The Google-ization of Our Minds is Just Part of Evolution

There is nothing qualitatively different about the way the Internet is changing our human experience now than the way the invention of writing did some thousands of years ago.

I think that human beings are tool users by nature.  We’re designers by nature and that is really born out in archeological record.  For millions of years our ancestors used the simplest blunt instruments.  Then suddenly about 50,000 years ago we find this explosion of technological innovation.  

We next see tools with different specialties.  We see tools for making tools and the first evidence of clothing. And you have the discovery of visual art and the cave paintings of France and Spain and Southern Africa. And this is probably also when language first emerged.

I don't think it's an accident that the first place where human beings in the modern sense -- cognitively, psychologically, behaviorally -- show up in history is when technology shows up in history.  

The interesting thing about tools is that they change us.  They transform us.  They both enable us to do things that we can already do better like beat something with a stick or beat something with a hand, they also enable me to do something I couldn’t do without the tool like drill a hole or screw in a screw.

This is one of the agents of our own evolution and you can see it in so many different ways. Consider the fact that a few thousand years ago most human beings couldn’t digest milk and then the domestication of animals happened and milk became available.  Milk became available as a ready source of energy and nutrition and people adapted to this technological innovation biologically, that is, increasingly throughout the population there spread the gene that would enable us to digest lactose.

I think people are very caught up and anxious about the Goolgle-ization of our minds and short attention spans and the Internet and all of that, but I think this is really a case of where the more things change the more they stay the same.  There is nothing qualitatively different about the way the Internet is changing our human experience now than the way the invention of writing did some thousands of years ago.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.