Until recently, humans have relied on each other to distribute and share memory, in a world where the human brain was the pinnacle of data storage. But the Internet has radically and rapidly changed our relationship with this transactive memory system. In the December issue of Scientific American, Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward explore the phenomenon in “How Google is Changing Your Brain.”
“Human! We used to be exactly like them. Flawed. Weak. Organic. But we evolved to include the synthetic. Now we use both to attain perfection. Your goal should be the same as ours.”
–Borg Queen, Star Trek: First Contact
For those of us who recall the shadowy time before the rise of the Internet and Google, if you had a question, you were promptly sent to the dictionary, encyclopedia, or library (up hill, in the snow, both ways) to try to find the answer. Today, a question barely has time to cross our minds before we are tapping away on our phones or computers to Google the answer. When a proper noun becomes a verb, you know something big has happened.