Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Illustration by Guy Billout
Illustration by Guy Billout

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

This article by Nicholas Carr struck me as an article that touches on an important subject that in a way feels denied or neglected in our society.

I am convinced of the fact that our thinking is morphed by our actions, specifically our way of dealing with language. Language is to me the mechanism that synchronises our inner world with the world outside us.

Human beings specifically, but life in general, are mirror-beings. We mirror the outside world, even on the cellular level. I tend to see our brains as immense mirror organs or sensory apparatus. It baffles me that the degree to which our inner reflections of the outside world are influenced or even determined by the language we employ (or languages for the lucky few among us, or for the really fortunate ones, different language families) is so totally unknown.

I want to think about this, discuss about this, research on this, because in the first place I find that it delivers valuable results in my work in designing and building really complex systems, and in the second place is a necessary prerequisite of integrating computers into human society.

We have opened a box of Pandora – but even the story of Pandora is an interesting one since the late Greek patriarchal interpretation or version of this story is strikingly different from the older, original one. As we know, modern thinking has many roots in classical Greece, and in Greece we can see interesting transitions from for example the ancient culture of Mycene to that of Athens. But this subject I will leave to the research of my readers.

The leading metaphor of our time is, indeed, the computer or the internet of computers called the web. As we have done through the ages, we look upon the world and ourselves through the mirror of the leading metaphor, as in the past there was the clock and the steam engine. But all of this is rooted in the language we employ, a language that, like a computer language, separated the subject from the object, the viewer from the viewed, nature from mankind. A separation that created the gap of Ginnungagap, the abyss that reduces the world to a machine.

If we become aware of this process, and start using other languages (or, more specifically, other language families that are not based on the subject-predicate format of western culture languages) to steer the mirroring process, I am convinced we would create an interesting future for ourselves.

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