Imagining the Internet Project

 Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2010 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.  



 
1. Responses to a tension pair about whether 'Google is making people stupid'

This page includes details on responses to a question about people's perceptions of the Internet's influence on human intelligence. This was one of 10 questions raised by the 2010 Elon University-Pew Internet survey of technology experts and social analysts. A report outlining results of five of the survey questions was unveiled at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Survey respondents shared thousands of issues-exposing predictive statements after being asked to consider "tension pairs," thus projecting their attitudes about the likely state of things in 2020. Experts were asked about the Internet and the evolution of: intelligence; reading and the rendering of knowledge; identity and authentication; gadgets and applications; and the core values of the Internet.

Following are elaborations from respondents who chose to remain anonymous. To read responses from people who took credit for their remarks, click here.

“It may be possible that such access will improve our search reasoning, however, simple access to information does not correlate to the ability to reason and/or synthesize. Ease of access may make it easier for the stupid to succeed.”

"This headline does damage to the public conversation, and it is a dumb premise. Some people use Google better than others. Experience with make some better still. Now, let's have a serious conversation about how that process will evolve."

“Some people will get much smarter, but on the whole most people are lazy – and it's not Google that will make us stupid – it’ll be Facebook/etc., i.e. people breathing each other's (factually incorrect) exhaust."

“The Internet is in part responsible for a decreasing interest in reading and the decline of traditional journalism. Combine this with an increase in plagiarism, and impact on the next generation's critical thinking skills may well be negative.”

“People always over estimate the impact of any particular technology. I really don't think either is really correct.”

“We clearly cannot assume that Google in 2020 resembles the service we see today. As a result, I believe that 2020's Google will surely make us better informed in that it will likely be able take advantage of advancements in numerous other fields such as data mining and artificial intelligence.”

“Human knowledge might be enhanced by Google, however emotional relations might be more innocent as the machine-is-replacement networking takes place.”

“Google will be history by 2020”

"The definition of intelligence has been changing over the last 30 years. It's no longer about knowing a list of facts (like what year the Magna Carta was signed) but knowing how to find those facts, authenticate them and present them in contextual and thoughtful ways. The question is really ‘what is the definition of smart’ and that definition is definitely in transition."

“The Internet will diminish the use of some cognitive skills like rote memorization and computation. But look at the calculator – its invention hasn't made us dumber, but rather allowed us to do more advanced computations. And you still have to know how to use it; a graphing calculator can take years of training to master. The Internet will have a similar effect, allowing us to make even better use of our intelligence to tackle greater, more challenging tasks.”

“People will not only have access to information, but also many more ways to organise, compare and visualise that information.”

“I don't actually agree with either sentiment. Internet technologies will be leveraged by intelligent people as a knowledge and information enhancement. We no longer need to memorize facts nor are these any longer good proof of intelligence. Synthesis and analysis are still needed skills and Google will do nothing to help in either direction. More than anything, by 2020, we'll be having a different conversation about what makes someone intelligent. And it will have a lot more to do with creative abilities, synthesis skills and the ability to leverage information in a meaningful way. I look forward to getting away from this foolish discussion.”

“The issue with all this information is not that it is right or wrong, or that it makes it think less or more, but that with its proliferation the ability to attend to it will be increasingly small.”

“I find the Carr proposition silly, frivolous and unnecessarily provocative. The slightly subtler version of the argument – that Google is changing how we read, turning us into browsers instead of deep divers – is more interesting, but it's unclear to me that it's true. One way or another, I think it's a massive overstatement to predict that Google would make us smarter or stupider, and not an especially good question to focus on.”

“I picked the ‘smarter’ option, but really I think the answer lies somewhere between the two. I think that the increasing access to information has the potential to enhance our overall intelligence, by allowing us to free ourselves from rote memorization and concentrate more on critical thinking and problem solving, but these are skills that need to be deliberately taught and encouraged, and are outside the scope of what Google can do.”

“Intelligence is ultimately about connections, not just remembering. If artificial aids to remembering made us stupid, literacy already would have.”

“It's not either or. People will think more laterally, less deeply. It remains to be seen whether that will be 'smarter.’”

“We will learn to make increasingly intelligent use of information as it becomes available.”

“First, of course, a big factor is how you define intelligence. Rote memory ability will decrease, since people don't need to hold arbitrary info in mind as much. However, their knowledge of the world, especially in specific/specialty areas will decrease. My biggest concern would be the narrowness of focus that can result from selecting your own information sources out of so many available.”

“This is an interesting psychological question that cannot be answered by polling. Only experience and analysis will answer it.”

“New technology has often been greeted with fear, but my inability to illuminate a manuscript doesn't seem to have hindered my overall intelligence so far.”

“I don't see the Google, or any other search engine, radically influencing our ability for critical reasoning. Also, if you define intelligence as IQ (not my choice, but a common metric), than I can't see Google influencing it whatsoever."

“If the Internet is used to research options/ choices, ideas, definitions, history, it can and, I think, will make people smarter. If it's just used to download music or make transactions, it will not necessarily add to intelligence.”

“I naively believe that the total sum of human intelligence does not change before and after Google. Humans now can exercise more intelligence in some areas with the help of Google, but in other areas we do not or we do even worse. (There are some people who search 'Yahoo!' with Google in order to navigate to Yahoo!)”

“Google leads us to valid historical and current data that aids decision making, whereas conversely, Wikipedia ties up various advocates of positions to edit out the views of others with whom they disagree and constantly be ‘on guard.’”

“We'll be individually smarter by virtue of having more divergent thoughts during any given time period. We'll also be collectively smarter because the resulting communications will be a group form of computation regarding where to allocate our attention.”

“It was because of Reese, I just realized, Tim O'Reilly and I could reach the conclusion, in the midst of a conversation, that ‘information’ is not only derived from the verb to form , but that authority is the right we grant others to form us, and that therefore ‘we are all authors of each other.’ (Doc Searls http://www.itgarage.com/node/725 Using Search for 'Reese')”

“I have worked as a teaching assistant, and seen that students today are very adept at finding information on the Internet. However, they were not good judges of the quality of the information, nor were they necessarily about to analyze the information they found and construct coherent arguments. In fact, they often seemed to lack the incentive to seek out differing views. Unless the Internet paradigm shifts from information provider to something that demands analytical thinking, it will not make us smarter.”

“Google is only aspect of this. There are many other exciting and useful interfaces to information to help us, such as our own project Hyperwords.”

“While search engines have many benefits in locating information, I feel for a lot of people it allows them to live more in their own world and not find out about the wider world so much, such as if they were to read a daily newspaper with a range of issues covered.”

“Human intelligence is enhanced through greater connectivity and open innovation networks.”

“People are able to enhance their knowledge through the use of Google. People are able to look up, on Google, the answers to many of their questions and theories. Also, if someone wants to learn how to do something, thus furthering their knowledge, they can look it up on Google.”

“The human intellect will be different. Our memories will atrophy. Our ability to concentrate will atrophy. We will be better at making comparisons across fields, but will not be able to think as deeply.”

“Can't both be true? Both are rather true now. I can't choose one or the other, because I don't think this is black or white. Currently, the Internet allows for access to all kinds of content and interactions, but it also allows one to choose to be exposed to narrow content and not a variety of viewpoints. Does television make us smart or stupid? Radio? The telephone? Print media? I think the report on all is mixed.”

“Non–traditional habits for information gathering and social interaction will continue to emerge and develop and through this the knowledge base will expand as a direct result of the sheer volume of readily available information. What will change is the manner with how we interact around information and this shift in cultural experience will have some adverse impact on collective wisdom.”

“The assumption that Google makes us stupid is tied to the idea that there is only one kind of intelligence. While I do think the availability of certain kinds of tools is diminishing some of our capacities because we don't have to work so hard to get at information, we are becoming smarter in other ways.”

“Better search will allow us to quickly examine a new piece of information to see if it is accurate or to learn if the sources is reliable.”

"Both are wrong, in the sense that there is no such group as “people” in any modern community or culture. Google will provide far easier access to many who lacked the resources (education, money, skills, time) to use traditional information tools/systems. Google will make searches more affordable and accessible – should help many become better informed and open up the possibility of better decisions and deeper insights. Smart is the wrong term. Google, even by 2020, will capture only a fraction of what is knowable and known. So, to the extent that we decide it is no longer worth the effort to broaden our search to include what all that exists outside Google's reach then we're going to risk all the consequences of ignorance. Stupid is the wrong term."

“Although I believe that the Internet will make us "smarter" in finding information, it may make things so easy that we really do not "think" about them. Would this make us ‘smarter’?”

“We will lose math and spelling abilities as we rely too much on Google and the Internet to help solve our problems.”

“The choice here is extremely polarized. My own view is that of Benoit Felten: ‘Internet in general (and not Google in particular) will make us intelligent differently. Analytical skills will increase as the ability to draw conclusions from a wider body of evidence will increase. Factual memory might diminish in time as the repository for factual information increasingly becomes externally accessible.’"

“I don't really think Google will make us either smart or stupid. Google will supplement and amplify human intelligence.”

“It doesn't make people smart or stupid. It just means that people who are smart can be smart quicker, and people who are stupid can be lazy.”

“Google is part of the world domination scheme that is being foisted on us. The ‘Do no Evil’ ‘mission statement’ is a farce.”

“People often prefer to expend the least effort necessary to do anything. Since Google is replacing libraries as a source of information, the gate-keeping that libraries formerly did, and the costs that used to face publishing information, are gone. More information does not equal better information, and Google (as well as its users for the most part) does not know how to discriminate.”

“Use of the Internet will bring opportunities to expand on critical thinking skills thereby making people more thoughtful abut the information they receive on a daily basis.”

“Google will not make us smart or make us stupid. ‘Stupid’ people will be more likely to use the Internet in sloppy ways, unable to distinguish valid information from garbage. ‘Smart’ people will be better able to navigate the flood of information – if they're given the tools and training to know what's reliable.”

“I'm not sure this is a dichotomous variable. Google increases our access to knowledge, one type of intelligence, but might constrain our process of seeking information, which is another type of more procedural intelligence.”

“People will increase their capacity to deal with vast amounts of information.”

“Google not only gives access to all knowledge, it is facilitating collaboration among the 6.7 billion people currently alive. Google helps find things, but humans still make the correlations and have the new innovative ideas.”

“Access to information was the initial stages of a search engine development. Search engines like Google (or others) will evolve to be decision engines, allowing us not just access to data and information, but at a higher level knowledge. One trend certainly is that consumers have become and will be even intelligent buyers.”

“In 2020, I + Google = definitely smarter. I alone, probably smarter, but not necessarily.”

“Intelligence will stay the same. Neither answer allows for that, as your second option has both stay the same and make us stupid.”

“Intelligence will change but the Net will give us access to more information as needed.”

“Human intelligence is a way to deal with the environment. In a digital environment humankind will develop a different set of strategies to deal with the information around us. A modern man without technology will appear as stupid as if he was seen from a Middle Ages perspective: most of his knowledge would be useless and he would lack of some of the most basic notions. Different environments require different intelligences.”

“Given faster access to more information, people will think more (and spend less time tracking down information). Intellectual progress will accelerate, so our mental ‘toolbox’ will be better.”

“People don't seek to verify sources on Google. Students treat Google as a primary source of information.”

“The cat still lives... the curious will be fed... the digital library will complement the analog one.”

“Access to information has made huge differences historically, notably after the invention (in the West) of moveable type. But the difference emerged over a far longer time period and required degrees of attention that I'm not observing among googling multitaskers.”

“Intellect does not equal intelligence. Intellect is being degraded more in western societies by affluence and wastage from lazy entertainment. Google is enhancing intelligence, ie access to knowledge and information tremendously. Whether humans can use it or make good use of it is another matter entirely.”

“The proper and efficient use of the Internet requires a certain level of intelligence and knowledge. The amount of knowledge and information cannot be digested without it. If one has the basic intelligence, the Internet can help its increase. The majority in the generation of clickers unfortunately will become superficial and even dangerous.”

“In innumerable small steps, Google is providing the information people need to make better decisions. In the coming years, the level of data connected to particular places will continue to expand, and so will people's perception of how they relate to their world, other people, and the future. The flexibility afforded by new technologies will allow a qualitative shift in culture.”

“The culture of the Internet and social media seems to place a premium on reacting quickly. I fear this is discouraging people from pondering questions. This behavior encourages high degrees of multitasking, and studies are showing this interferes with cognitive processes.”

“While the Internet is a great enabler of access to information, it does not make us smarter. We don’t have to work as hard to gather information and hence do not value it or attain better knowledge for having found it.”

“As more and more data becomes available it becomes more and more important to separate good information from bad information. Only skilled people will be able to make this distinction which leaves the rest ill-informed which is certainly worse than the situation we have right now with newspapers that perform to a high standard.”

“Information can only enhance our awareness of the world around us, its history, and its future. Information does not necessarily enhance intelligence. It enhances our ability to make intelligent decisions, if we are so inclined.”

“I'm not sure I agree with smarter, per se, but people will want to know more about whatever is of interest to them at the time. Overall, it's not that Google is an educational opportunity, but it is a knowledge opportunity that people will engage with.”

“It will enhance certain kinds of intelligence such as information seeking, and quicker information processing and decrease other forms of intelligence such as emotional intelligence. But our definitions for intelligence will likely adapt to our uses of technologies.”

“Google/Wikipedia making you dumber is a bit simplistic... There is certainly the danger of Ray Bradbury ‘Fahrenheit 451’–style knowledge of factoids coming to dominate discourse, certainly it dominates the cable news format. Access to primary sources, especially datasets and tools to manipulate them on the other hand probably produces a countervailing effect that is to make formerly esoteric and highly centralized information more accessible.”

“The Internet neither enhances human intelligence nor makes people stupid. Google just makes access to the information available in more convenient way. And there is no direct influence to human intelligence.”

“The same can be said of any individual technology, but humankind continues to advance and evolve.”

“The Internet has given us immense opportunity to network throughout the world. It has enabled us to work faster. Google has not made us stupid.”

“Taking advantage of the distributed characteristics of the Internet, search technologies such as Google are making possible what no other system in the course of human history has managed to accomplish: making vast amounts of human knowledge and experience available and accessible to the masses. Think back to when you were an undergraduate or in graduate school. How long did it take to source an article, periodical, or monograph for a research project? Did you have to wait to get it on loan from a far away library? Or even another student or academic? Now vast libraries and volumes of books are available over the Internet and searchable through Google and an array of specialist search engines, which fuel the fire of human intellectual development. What will need to change is the way we process and filter information. Currently, we are still coping with how to manage all the bits of information available at our fingertips. Just as the printing press forced individuals to adapt to a new way of communicating and processing information, so too will we need to adapt our methods of information selection and consumption. By 2020, I believe we will have a better handle on how to consume the information available to us more effectively, which will lead to greater intelligence. At the very least, however, the opportunity to tap into human intelligence will be distributed more universally, as electronic information search and retrieval breaks down the barriers of time and distance that are highly pronounced when information is bound in physical form.”

“The Internet lowers the cost of finding information by orders of magnitude. Questions that I would never have bothered to look up the answer to because I was only idly curious can be answered in seconds. This means that the Internet increases my knowledge. Throughout history, cheap resources have increased consumption. Why shouldn't knowledge fall into the same pattern?”

“People get more acclimated to things in their environment and I believe that will go for information, too.”

“By 2020 collective intelligence and access to information will be as normal as today the access to Internet and anyone from anywhere will have access to any information. This will also likely increase the competition of knowledge and inventiveness; hence, it will be only a matter of choice if people want or don't want to be smarter.”

“Information provides us with more opportunities and choices – I believe/hope our knowledge will expand. As the information society becomes a communication society then I hope we will become wiser through shared knowledge and understanding, uses the opportunities that greater access to more information provides in smarter ways.”

“More knowledge, shared globally, makes us all smarter.”

“Access to information does not, in and of itself, make us more intelligent. Access to information, with the proper filters, allows us to better utilize our intelligence.”

“Making information easier to find doesn't make people stupid; the opposite is true. It enables the brain to move up the value chain to higher–value operations.”

“I love the question about the linkage between human intelligence and Google [aka: any online service that removes the need to think logically]. But my answer is more about 'online' than about one provider, specifically. Online access to tools, and shortcuts could actually limit the need for young people to develop different kinds of thinking and decisional skills, including logic, problem solving, even understanding key concepts of language and math. So, while 'we' may still be intelligent, we would be actually not exercising, stressing and stretching capabilities.... OR, such tools and services, if they are also used in online and other educational services to help to build such skills, to address perhaps learning disabilities or disorders, or to create learning tools to help a broader understanding of math and science, could add to human intelligence. So far, the Internet isn't building intelligence – and neither is Google, or any other services – but they are adding to human communication resources. Information alone doesn't build intelligence – but it may contribute to it. But it looks like far too many of the initiatives are not yet about enhancing skills, cognitive functioning, learning...”

“Neither scenario explicitly accounts for (a) the finiteness of the time that a person has to 'spend' on the Internet; 24 hours a day (and do NOTHING else.) (b) “smarter and make better choices” as individuals or as members of the larger community.”

“Maybe not ‘stupid’ and maybe not ‘lower IQs,’ but too many choices in too little time will make it increasingly difficult to be ‘right’ and be confident that you are.”

“I am not sure either answer is actually correct. I chose the first because people will become more 'eduated.’ This doesn't translate directly to intelligence. We are born with intelligence, but as we become more educated, we do make better choices and the Internet does contributes to our education.”

“Searches allow us to immediately find information about a wide range of subjects, and, as a result, people will learn more about more subjects. Those who have the skills will be able to recall that info and talk about it without any support of Internet–connected gadgets. Those who are least prepared to deal with this scenario will count more and more on the gadgets but, at least, knowing how to filter the search is a good sign.”

“While writing styles may have altered, access to information can only help make people more intelligent.”

“I am not sure that the impact of Google and other search procedures is going to be felt on the level of individual intelligence. This is not the domain of brain sciences. Rather, I suspect we are creating technological and social mechanisms that allow us to do more with the intelligence we already have. In part, this is the result of ‘collective intelligence,’ the ability to draw on a larger community for insights, information, and advice.”

“Humans will not get ‘stupid.’ The types of knowledge we need, acquire, and use will change as the world changes; therefore, knowledge considered essential yesterday and today will not necessarily be needed in the future. Stupid? No. Different? Yes.”

“I don't think Google or the Internet is making us stupid. I firmly believe that schools are not educating us the way we need to be educated 1) to be curious, funny, productive individuals, parents, workers, leaders; and 2) to be thoughtful, innovative, critical thinkers the world needs. This has nothing to do with ‘back in the day, I was taught…’ This is a thorough indictment of education, policymakers, leaders, and quite frankly the rest of us who do nothing to change the current situation in big ways – we may in small ways but we need something big. Anything beyond conservative/liberal is too gray. I use the Internet well because I can think. Google and the Internet just allow us to be more stupid more often in the frame of Nicholas Carr. But they are not causing it.”

“Instead of remembering actual information, we'll remember how we got to that information.”

“I'm sympathetic to – and familiar with – the experiences of reading described in the Atlantic piece, but I don't actually believe them, in the broad sense. I think we need to balance the incredible benefits of Internet access around the globe with the over–use of it in the U.S./West. Also, I think that some of the changes that are being attributed to the Web (Google), may in fact be a cumulative result of many changes in our lives: The over–use of screen media (including TV), the speeding up of things. I do think that whoever was struggling to read War & Peace could do so, if they took a good vacation and left their computer at home. By the same token, I am in grad school at 50, and I see an over–dependence on the Internet by students. I think this may well result in a loss of ability to WRITE, as much as to read. So it could signal changes to the use of narrative, in addition to reading.”

“First choice – I don't see anything stupid is easier access to information.”

“We will have access to more information, which will allow us to make more-informed choices. However, information alone doesn't automatically lead to better choices. For example, how many people know that smoking or being overweight is bad for their health, yet they do nothing about it. More information will tend to immobilize people as they feel overwhelmed with trying to process all the data. We will need trusted sources or sites that sift through the data and help us make meaning.”

“To Google something one must break down some part of it to use as a keyword...often the obvious term works but also often it does not. Keywording is analysis and analysis builds intelligence. While I don't expect an overall jump in IQ test scores, I do expect that some people will improve their personal analytical skills...and some if fine by me.”

“The use of helper technology frees us from mundane mental effort and allows us to focus our resources on more rewarding tasks.”

“The Internet has allowed much greater access to information, to a larger spectrum of people, in a quicker fashion – and without regard to their economic position.”

“People may be more stupid in 2020 than they are today, but that will be because of a culture that increasingly downplays the value of intelligence and rational thought and not because of services like Google that facilitate access to information.”

“Ignorance is the source of many, many problems in the world. As more and more people move out of ignorance, the challenge will be teaching people how to synthesize and process the information they will now be able to receive.”

“Google makes it too easy to get to a supposed right answer. Reading and problem solving are diminished, as are comparative answers, one of which may be better than the first answer ‘stumbled’ upon through Google.”

“In 2010 we may be smarter by Google. But by 2020, there will be too much technology everywhere (mobile, wireless) – and Google will be dominant.”

“It depends on the information they're seeking out with Google. Understanding general news/information does not make the average person more intelligent. For that, you need a structured course of instruction.”

“Having access to more information is not enough to result in more true knowledge or better decision-making. If the population doesn't develop the critical reasoning skills needed to consider the information in context, then the information will become just so much more noise that people disregard completely, or they will snatch bits and pieces of disjointed information and make decisions based on faulty understanding. Critical thinking can only truly be developed by exploring, trying out hypotheses, failing, then going back and exploring again. Searching the Web for information is part of that process, and if Google just serves it up for us predigested, then we remain passive consumers of information with little actively acquired knowledge (much like relying on a GPS device instead of developing good map–reading skills).”

“Google will not necessarily make us stupid but the access to more information will not of itself make us smarter. What it will do is make us more able to make better decisions should be learn to be more intelligently decisive – which the Internet cannot help us with, anymore than the proliferation of books did five hundred years ago.”

“The Internet is a valuable tool. Google helps make it work.”

“Education is the key to lowering disease and poverty.”

“Google has made us learn to access information in different ways – by knowing how and where to look up reliable information rather than keeping it all in our heads. This access to information has made us able to make more informed decisions in all areas of our lives. However, because we have this dependence on Google (or the Internet in general), we would find it difficult to adapt if we ever lost access to it. Overall, the amount of information on many different subjects that we are able to take in due to Google has made us smarter in whole, but without the quick reference available, we may lose the specific details.”

“Google does not require critical thought in the construction of the question.”

“Despite the indications that some Internet users are not benefitting from the opportunities to expand their knowledge and apply newly acquired information, it is more likely that increasing numbers will share and expand access to valued information sources and thereby help expand educational opportunities and learning.”

“Users will be unlikely to probe immediate answers. The result is users will obtain information that lacks depth.”

“With more information available and more guidance on which sources are best, younger people and older can make better choices on what to do and how to do it. On the other hand, looking at US political choices prior to 2008, perhaps that is not true. :–) Then again, with access to the Internet at home almost universal in the US, perhaps people are indeed getting wiser."

“People will begin to use the Internet more skillfully. The search skills of people will improve, either through instruction or experience and the search engines will be smarter and more improved.”

“There's sufficient early evidence to support Carr. Given the widespread impact of the Web and Google, resources in educational psychology should be invested in this important question.”

“The Internet has enhanced people's awareness – intelligence is born not learned.”

“Google, and the Internet in its entirety, has the ability to make us far more intelligent if utilized to its full potential. Prior to the advent of the ‘information superhighway’ one needed to have grown up near a university library to have ready access to extensive sources of information and research to develop their intellectual curiosity as a teenager. Today, nearly everyone in the world shares that same level of access – which is a very exciting thing. Indeed, the Internet is thus succeeding in ‘leveling the playing field’ for virtually everyone across the globe.”

“More information always allows best choice, even though the ‘huge’ amount of stupid ones (messages).”




“Google and search engines are a reflection of human behavior. I doubt by 2020 our collective behavior and intelligence will increase. We'll have access to more information because of search engines, but we won't be using it any smarter than today or 20 years ago.”

“There are often differing opinions regarding most matters. Even some scientific opinions are doubted by some (e.g., global warming). My observation is that most people tend to rely upon that with which they agree. Given the abundance of information available via a search engine, some people will either accept the first observation they find or, if they disagree with it, will continue to search until they find an observation acceptable to them. Google does not promote curiosity; it's a means of reinforcing an existing opinion. Nor does it promote serious consideration: Some people are interested only in a small snippet of information and disregard the rest – even if it casts doubt or uncertainty on the snippet they've chosen.”

“Google makes the division between smart and stupid (using your distinctions) bigger, more visible, and more dangerous. And it will become increasingly effortless to reinforce our biases, and likes, and dislikes and hatreds.”

“We'll be able to access more content more rapidly. Search engines will allow us to more precisely find what we seek.”

“Google (but also Wikipedia etc.) made access to data too simple and we're busy and lazy as human people: ‘thinking forward’ is more simple than thinking... I mean, it's more simple to find a pre–formatted thought on Internet than elaborate a new one by themselves. Without method, discipline, time, forma mentis will be more and more difficult to think and in a world based on the fastest response not the better, our world, people with the speediest touch will be the winning ones.”

“Google's ability to make a vast amount of information so easily and universally available is in effect democratizing education and is a remarkable mind–expanding mechanism.”

“As a professor, I see too many younger Americans trusting Google to do the work for them in terms of sound research. They do not find appropriate resources even when shown explicitly how to find it via Google. They trust that the instantaneous access will allow them pull together an assignment in less than 12 hours that is supposed to take about five business days. So some will benefit from improvements on Google but most will be fooled into thinking they are more disciplined and prepared and "smart" than they actually are.”

“Very few advances in human capability have made humans stupid – at least more stupid. Carr's argument is ahistorical. Such analyses always posit the past as an ideal and fail to take into account the breadth of human advance and the need for adaptive changes. We no longer copy manuscripts by hand, and surely Carr would not argue we should, as beautiful as monastery calligraphy could be.”

“If I had more faith in human nature, I'd say Google was offering us the chance to be more discerning, more curious, and to learn at an unprecedented rate. That assumes, though, that Google search returns are broadly unbiased, and discounts the potential for the move to the lowest common denominator as people add 'most popular' filters.”

“Google and other giant IT companies may not exist in 2020. I don't think Google or any other technology can enhance our intelligence; it may change how we do things. I believe quality education can enhance our IQ.”

“The Internet will continue to transform how we communicate, work, learn, and think – but it will not make us stupid ... instead, new technologies will redefine and lift intelligence to new levels.”

“Google removes the barrier to information. The quality of information, or the correctness of the individual conclusion based on the data found, is a harder measure but really what we're after. Hording and limiting access to information is the shortest path to societal stupidity.”

"I do not see the information skills necessary being taught or offered. In order for young learners to make wise choices about the vast amount of information available, they need a range of information evaluation skills. As a society, we are promoting a shallow level of learning and information evaluation.”

“Google will act as an extension of our memories. With ubiquitous mobile access, we will always be able to access the world's accumulated knowledgebase at the touch of a screen.”

“Assuming that most will use as a learning resource, Google can increase access to information. The concern is then, will those reviewing critically examine the info to discern authenticity or simply accept the info on blind faith?”

“I'm not sure that people will be ‘smarter,’ but I do think that people will be able to make better decisions with more information. I see changes in how people are using Google–people are starting to read critically – not just take it all at face value.”

“We will evolve to know how to use the Internet in this coming decade to serve our personal, professional and social–emotional needs. Knowing how to use the artificial intelligence of Google will assist us in identifying information we need to function well in our daily lives and provide us solutions to our problems and questions.”

"Information technology is not a tool (Google) that can make us stupid. It is the way we use it. Those who think TV made us stupid will approve Nick Carr."

“The Internet is a fascinating tool but nonetheless it is a tool and as such use of the Internet is only to be interpreted in relation with other sociological considerations.”

“The question itself is the wrong one. The real issue is whether people in 2020 will be better educated in order to determine the veracity of Google, Wikipedia or etc., or whether non–verity of online information overwhelms because people have no depth of knowledge through education in order to make such a determination.”

“The Internet will have a neutral effect on human intelligence.”

“I disagree with BOTH premises. Use of the Internet can increase human knowledge, but that does not equate with human intelligence. Google does not MAKE people stupid; it merely allows people to imagine that they are more intelligent than they are. There are smarter search engines than Google."

“Those who learn to use it as a tool with find it helpful to enhance their knowledge (However, technology in itself cannot ‘make us smarter’ or ‘stupid’ any more than a car could – it's all about how it's used.)”

“Google will not make us stupid because by 2020 we will have discovered a much more sophisticated way of organizing and retrieving information – and not be using Google. On the other hand, more information does not necessarily make us smarter or end in better decisions. From that perspective, Carr was at least partially right.”

“Define stupid. A decline in individual and abstract genius intelligence or a decline in overall social intelligence. I would bet on the first, not the second. If anything defines the West it is the elaboration of public spaces. Networked intelligence has been a defining social movement since print and the Republic of Letters. Feedback loops then were slow. Feedback loops today are rapid.”

“’Book learning’ or the aptitude to read and absorb material presented in various media does not always result in a greater ability to apply the lessons learned. The ability to use what one has learned in order to solve other problems is not achieved by merely reading large volumes of data – one has to learn how to use that data in order for it to be truly meaningful.”

“Knowledge will be less about memory than about processing information, knowing where to find it, sometimes where to challenge it.”

“I don't think having a family set of encyclopedias made us any more or less smarter. I think it will have a net effect of almost zero. But if I have to choose, I pick stupid. Mostly because we no longer have to remember anything.”

“Internet users in general will have broader more diverse knowledge but their understanding will be less comprehensive and their thought processes will be more patterned.”

“The Internet is a tool for learning and finding things out. It provides opportunities for people to learn more about topics they are interested in. But – you have to know how to search in order to find. I think that we might see more interest in how information is created and processed, in addition to the actual info content.”

“Lazy people inevitably don't think as much or as deeply as they otherwise might, and the most immediate effect of Google as the research default for many people is: a) failure (or incapability) to form proper search queries, b) acceptance of Google's hierarchy of search results as both accurate and truthful representations of the answer to their (generally malformed) query, and c) lack of effort toward independent verification or validation of the results through alternative searches (or search engines).”

“Printed encyclopedias didn't impair my interest in pursuing topics in more detail. Access to more information is not necessarily a problem.”

“I don't think the Internet reduces or increases IQ – I think it changes the way we learn and acquire knowledge. Intelligence and knowledge has become less about knowing the answers to questions, and more about knowing which questions to ask and how to synthesize and interpret the available answers.”
“People who are thoroughly tied to the Internet allow it to do their thinking. Rather than going to several books or periodicals or even talking to people face to face –they are finding one site that ‘answers’ their question and because it's on the Internet – it's right. Heaven help us!"

“College students cheat exponentially on papers and tests. They are not learning because they are lazy and can merely look up answers. They are not absorbing what they are looking up.”

“I worry that individuals will not learn the requisite skills to discern good information from unverified or bogus information, and that with so many choices, people will just select the most popular source, rather than a credible source.”

“The ability to access information online in the click of a button has the potential to make people more informed and so make smarter choices, the question is whether this will make people more informed within their own niches of interest and less informed about a range of issues as watching news did.”

“I do not think that Google can make us stupid. How we use and think about it can decrease our skills in critical thinking and reasoning. The Internet provides an overwhelming amount of information, but it requires skills and knowledge to be able to sort through and vet the information and its validity. In some ways it is more difficult today to verify information than it was when information was in a printed or even auditory format. Further, the ‘new’ journalism that fails to check and verify facts in order to ‘sell’ whatever ‘news’ companies thinks people will buy makes it difficult to rely on a free press as a source of reliable information and thoughtful/civil commentary. I teach senior-level college students at a highly ranked university. They do not possess the skills or the values to question and sort through what is on the Internet. They cannot discriminate between the worth of something on Wikipedia or a blog as compared to a report from the National Institutes of Medicine. Because of this, I would say ‘googling’ perpetuates their poor information and thinking skills. On the other hand, someone who knows he/she has to think about, question, and check on information retrieved through ‘googling,’ can have enhanced thinking and knowledge. The source is not the problem – what we do with it is.”

“More information does not equal better choices or decisions. The highest-ranked results may not be correct, just convenient to the clicker.”

“Google is a great tool and serves a specific purpose, but in terms of legitimate information and resources it does not always provide reputable information. That people are moving further and further away from making this distinction and ‘googling’ everything, it is dumbing people down when they are relying on information that is not necessarily accurate.”

“People tend not to get the whole picture or do solid research when using the Net. sometimes Websites accessed are inaccurate. Research and critical analysis skills are low. People become lazy when using the desktop and don't access more solid research resources that might not be available (or freely) available on the Web.”

“It will depend on the use people make of this tool.”

“Google is a tool, not a source of information. By the year 2020, Google will have the ability to provide a gateway to even more of the world's information (via its books programs). It's not that Google will make us smart or stupid, but that our education systems need to focus less on old style learning and more on distilling and analyzing information.”

“The ability to read a question, digest what the correct response would be and use the brain to analyize and answer said question appear to be a form of human intelligent that the Internet is changing. The ability to query the Internet, obtain good to bad information, the desire to sift thru it and actually use the brain to find the specifically needed information appears to be lost in translation and time. Human intellect appears to be declining with short terse unemotional non-communicative interplays versus human conversation, context sensitive material and the brain digesting what is needed as the Internet continues to accumulate more info. I think the ability to write a full sentence with punctuation and to have relative meaning is being replaced with short non-grammatically-correct answers.”

“The evolution of the Internet and its successor will allow even greater access to information for use by everyone with access. However, the commercialization of social networking will put more people at risk for dumbing down their knowledge and loss of individualism.”

“Replaces the need for critical thinking.”

“Critical thinking skills are already nearly non–existent. Google and other search engines won't affect that. But, Google will allow folks to quickly grasp an idea or fact or definition quickly. We will soon be mashing–up everything into cognitive maps, though, which may allow more people to see connections/associations/correlations where they might have missed them in today's Google results.”

“While access is key, the evolution of critical thinking skills will be essential to evaluate things like the legitimacy, contextuality and authenticity of information retrieved. Beyond the world of Google are social, cultural and educational dispositions which more directly contribute to that evolution.”

“The use of search tools such as Google tends to make us intellectually lazy.”

“The upcoming generations are used to instant–response and gratification. They do not see the need to learn things, because they can search for answers on their phone if they really need to know.”

“I view Internet searches as modern–day versions of Collier's encyclopedia, which are references and gateways to information. By themselves, they do not make people stupid, people make people stupid.”

“Choice 2. Just search, and hear comments from other. No need to think.”

“Did the telephone make us smart, or stupid? Radio? TV? Despite what you may think, or want to think, for the most part they have little to do with intelligence. Knowledge, perhaps.”


“As suggested the choice is not easy to make. I believe we as a whole will be a bit smarter due to the availability of easily attainable information; whether or not that occurs will be up to individuals, those who seek to explore and learn will do so but those who seek to solidify their own already determined mind sets will.”
“The Internet just advertises our stupidity.”

“I want to believe use of the Internet will enhance human intelligence because the potential for information, knowledge, contact with people one may never have a chance to meet, and to organize according to specific interests appear endless. I have grave concerns, however, that inane 'twittering,' tracking irresponsible public figures every movement, fantasy games, and a variety of other black holes WILL suck the brains from too many Internet users. Access to the Internet will be a positive only if individuals are curious enough, and intrigued enough to seek out information that will widen their perspectives and increase their knowledge – otherwise it could easily become a way to escape from reality, just as some people use drugs, alcohol, etc.”

“The Google is the first page lot of people start with. Hence the biggest issue is a naive trust without questioning if the data is filtered, if it is complete or adapted to your own 'Google' profile. If your 'cookies' and 'temporary' files, sites you visited recently become the treasury for someone who wants to crack your brain and pack with data he is paid for. Does 'Googlers' think critically that there are no things given for free, only the cheese in the mousetrap. We lose critical thinking and become a naive vegetable, fed with manure.”

“To be fair to Nicholas Carr his argument is a tad more complex than this :–) In any case I tend to agree with the broader idea that technical devices and possibilities do not have a direct correspondence with knowledge growth. Personal knowledge grows mainly out of...personal effort. That – I think – could be described as a 'human permanent trait.' And personal effort requires personal discipline, requires an education system which encourages it, and most importantly requires time. The availability of myriad time-consuming options and the educational emphasis (at least in most EU countries) on the acquisition of so–called competences are growing obstacles to a culture of knowledge. Google is both a consequence of this cultural thrust (which had been very much present for years) and a dynamo for its enhancement. Children born in the first decade of this century are able multi-taskers yet tend to have a very short attention span. Knowledge on a certain topic, sought out for school assignments, is easily available on the Web only requiring re–assemblage skills (which they have also developed). This would in itself not be a problem if for most of them there were other options. But that is not the case. These generations are apt information gatherers and distributors but very limited information producers (information taken in its broader sense). Easy does not mean better. It means easy. With all its obvious advantages but also with all its obvious shortcomings."

“My observations are that many people do not know how to use search engines like Google to find the most relevant content, for example, use of advanced search. Internet users place too much faith in what they find in search results, for example, learning from blog content versus peer–reviewed academic articles.”

“The Internet *can* make people smarter. Whether or not it does, as a whole, depends on the quality of our educational system. The poorly educated cannot be made smarter by the Internet alone. Indeed, I would rephrase Carr's statement to say, ‘Google makes the smart smarter and the stupid, well just more stupid.’ Also, Carr's article was way too long to be worth the tiny point he made. :–)”

“The answer lies in the middle – Google doesn't make us more smart or stupid, but changes how we process and access information.”

“Socrates feared the development of writing, church leaders feared the development of the printing press, and some like Nicholas Carr fear the development of the Internet. As in the earlier cases, there will be some truth to their concerns and some of the problems they posit will be real problems, but also as in the prior cases, the unknowable benefits of this new technology will far surpass the problems we can predict.”

“Throughout history, the more access to information (either spoken, written or electronic) we have, our intelligence and understanding of our world around us moves to new heights.”

“Individuals will continue to use the Internet to gain knowledge. The Internet supports the premise you can learn something new everyday and that learning is at your fingertips.”

“Nicholas Carr makes himself look stupid. As patients, caregivers and people in general have access to more information, they can make better-informed decisions and also educate their doctors make better recommendations too.”

“The way that the question has been posed insinuates that the Internet is separate from human intelligence. It is entirely possible however that we will continue to delegate to Google, or the next thing, functions that we consider markers of intelligence. It would be a mistake to think that this is an either or proposition. It also may be the case that those who had previously worked to hone the skills considered as markers of intelligence will be supplanted by those with other skills.”

“People no longer accept a single online source as definitive and therefore seek multiple sources of information. Moreover, the public nature of the Internet means that the world feels free to weigh in and correct information.”

“Our notions of intelligence will evolve to match the interconnected way information is captured and applied via the Internet; Google as we understand it today is just one step on that evolutionary path.”

“Overall, the effect of Google and other information access technologies will make the human race smarter. This has been true of all information collection and dissemination technologies, from oral tradition through the printed word. The scenario for individuals will, however, be more disparate. Some individuals will benefit greatly from this new technology, in much the same way that literate individuals eclipsed the illiterate members of a society with the rise of the printing press and the introduction of the marketing of books. However, the functionally illiterate will be at a greater disadvantage, as they first still have the burden of a basic inability to read their spoken language, and secondly (but not secondarily) will also now lack basic computer literacy, compounding their handicaps for social and material advancement and probably increasing their sense of otherness and alienation. Stephen Johnson points out in his book, ‘Everything Bad Is Good for You’ (2005) that scientific research has documented an incontrovertible rise in the standard tests of intelligence in every developed country over the past five or six decades, a period that corresponds to the rise of electronic media and mass popular culture. This flies in the face of doomsayers like George Will and Neil Postman, whose focus is on the rise of the coarsening of popular culture and norms and a seeming shortening of individual attention spans and the ability to entertain large data sets using mental discipline rather than computer–based shortcuts. But cultural norms and intelligence are not the same thing. Very intelligent people are capable of great crimes (Michael Milken and Bernard Madoff are hardly idiots) and it is essential not to confuse intelligence and moral or ethical standards. One of the psychological researchers that Johnson cites, James R. Flynn, published his own summary of 40–plus years of research on the nature of intelligence in 2007, What Is Intelligence? Flynn notes that standardized tests of intelligence, such as the SAT and ACT tests for college admission and the more generalized Wechsler scales, have had to be re–normed multiple times because ‘average’ keeps creeping up, necessitating the setting of new mean scores. Flynn goes on to demonstrate that where the scores are increasing is NOT in mathematical or verbal reasoning, analogies, or vocabulary, but rather in more practically oriented non–verbal tasks such as pattern matching. Flynn calls this ‘fluid intelligence,’ a term first attributed to Raymond Cattell (1971), and one of two parts of so–called ‘g’ or general intelligence. The other part, crystallized intelligence, is what is measured by the likes of verbal and mathematical reasoning. Flynn points out that people who do well on tests of fluid intelligence (such as Raven's Matrices or certain sub–tests of other broader measurements) are those ‘whose mind has been liberated from the concrete’ (2007, p. 35). These are people who can think on their feet, as we say. It's the distinction between book smarts and street smarts."

“Easier access to more information can only make us smarter, not stupid. That said, we need to be taught critical thinking to understand what is valid information and what is not. We also need understand how to do deeper research than what we find on the Internet to validate our understanding.”

“Once upon a time, I was as involved with the local library's research sources as any person could possibly be, both by phone to the research desk and in person. And then I found the rudimentary Internet! I embraced the Internet the first time I saw it in 1984, learned that I could actually access libraries in England and Australia for reference and information, and have been heavily involved with research on the Web since! I can't think of one curious mind that wouldn't be enchanted by the resources to be found there. And I believe that it might nurture curiosity in children who are encouraged to explore the absolute gold mine of interesting (and informative) things to be found there.”

“People will get as much out of Google and other search engines as they want to put into them. There will be not much change, except more will believe that anything on the Net is gospel truth. People won't change, and those who refuse to do so will blame the Internet. Those who are curious and adventuresome let the Internet be another tool.”

“We will lose math and spelling abilities as we rely too much on Google and the Internet to help solve our problems.”

“The unprecedented access to more information is the key. A significant segment of the population seems inclined to search for supportive information for established beliefs but that could shift into an effort to search all sides of an issue or topic because of the ease of access.”

“The use of Internet search will not, on its own, affect intelligence based on the assumption of abundance in the domain of human intellect.”

“Open, unfettered access to information at an individual level is the key to maintaining free societies in the coming years. Throughout mankind's history, suppressing information, and the people's access to it, has been the key to oppression and disenfranchisement. Keeping information open and accessible via the Internet represents the greatest opportunity in history to break this chokehold.”

“The conscious, in-person exchange of ideas will hamper learning and eliminate people’s communication of ideas in social forums.”

“Easy access to correct information means more informed opinions.”

“I agree with the first statement, saying that, it does of course depend on how Google evolves from here. I'm not quite sure how Google's increased efforts to personalise search results will play out.”

“I firmly believe in the old adage that knowledge is power. By opening up vast sources of information to the masses, we will become smarter and make better choices.”

“With so much information available to us, it will become easier to specialize in a field. We will become specialists more than generalists.”

“Uses of the Internet can be productive or non–productive, and it would seem that as the current generation ages, non–productive use will continue at a high level. It is true that more information is and will be available to those who use the Internet, and this trend will continue; however the quality of the information may become even more questionable than it is now. The Internet doesn't encourage critical thinking; rather it is often used for corporate messaging, where those sponsoring the messages would rather that the individual not think critically about (or research more deeply) what is presented.”

“Both answers fall short of t he complexity of the issues at stake. Intelligence is not necessarily a function of access to information, nor does the quality of choices necessary correlate with access to information. Also, what are good choices?!"

“Collective intelligence will expand due to the collaborative nature and exposure of ideas on the 'net, but I think individual intelligence will suffer due to the tendency of ideas to coalesce around consensus and conformity.”

“Access to more information has opened many, many more doors to becoming more informed. The challenge is sifting through the junk info, spin–info and misinformation. That's where intelligence comes in – knowing how to use what info – and where to find accurate info.”

“In my opinion, the issue of reduced concentration is not a result of the Internet. People have always had to fight against the pressure to be superficial in their approach to living and learning. I used to read about the power and need for increased concentration when I was young, and that requirement still exists now. The Internet brings access to many sources of information and every day those sources grow. As search engine capabilities continue to be refined, I can look up many things that I would not have had access to before – and I can do it quickly. It remains our responsibilities to validate, fact check, and put things into context. We Should Be Teaching This To Our Children Repeatedly and Without Fail. But with that said, the access to information can lead to better choices. We have to have smart people in society that understand their responsibility to the whole – and that have the ability to think critically – but we need those capabilities with or without the Internet, for our society and civilization to survive. So, I think that the Internet will make us smarter, if used wisely. And to Nicholas Carr I say – go read James Joyce. He will make you think deeply and concentrate again. A good plan for 2010.”

“Most people now use Google without any thought process. I do not see that getting any better. As the search engines get better, more and more people will just pick the top 1–3 results and go with it. They won't take the time to examine the results and see if they actually meet the question(s) posed.”

“Instant access to large amounts of information via services like Google will allow people to avoid memorizing easily–remembered facts. In turn, this will enable them to use more of their neural processing for other tasks.”

“Internet searches can help the elderly keep their minds sharp. Why would it make us stupid?”

“The gap between highly intelligent people and those still in the dark ages will widen.”

“Google starts with what we give it. To paraphrase another quote, garbage in garbage out becomes stupid in, stupid out. Google becomes what we make of it and has no inherent power. I think we become more aware of our shortcomings with Google.”

“People will become smarter simply because they will be exposed to more information.”

“When surfing the Web, one almost always encounters something unexpected that adds to your knowledge. The unexpected something may be a phrase, picture or comment that is not even relevant to the information that one is searching for – yet it will be remembered by the searcher just because it seems interesting."

“The Internet will be the single biggest force in democratizing knowledge around the world.”

“Statements are based on a 'view' of intelligence that is determined by a pre Internet world. We need to revisit what we mean by intelligence ... access to information does not equate to intelligence or knowledge. Google and the Internet are not synonymous."

“Google will become all and everything – no one will consult other resources. Even today I have to tell my young assistant that not everything is found using Google. There are other search engines that search differently and find different – and better – things. People should expand their universe, not settle for one source of knowledge. Using a variety of resources guarantees exposure to different views.”

“If professionals don't regulate information, people will not be able to distinguish between sensible/reliable information and nonsense. We will develop an individual sense of truth that gives way to all kinds of populism and indoctrination.”

“We may lose the ability to think for ourselves as we rely more on others' opinions, but learning that the information is available will encourage us to obtain more of it, thereby making us smarter.”

“I agree that there's some chance Google is making us stupid, but I think the odds go the other way. By making access to information easier, studies show repeatedly that people become more likely to seek information. And Google really works pretty well. I think distraction and multi–tasking are the big risks for making us irretrievably stupid. Google's likely to make us smart.”

“Even nowadays we don't retain information. Instead, we rely heavily on being connected at all times to the Internet which can answer our questions immediately. Students don't learn anymore but rather rely on the ideas and knowledge of others or posted on Websites. People also believe most anything they read on the Internet. Instead of being intelligent enough to decipher and evaluate information they take information at face value and have become ‘stupid.’”

“Access to more information certainly, but does that imply smarter or better choices? Maybe not. That does not mean Carr is right; less information certainly cannot be better.”

“People will adapt and integrate the Internet into their lives in a way that enhances it and makes it easier for them to move throughout their day.”

“Google is just a stepping stone to help individuals find, access, and use information. Finding information in this way does not affect how people use it or their intelligence.”

“To explain my choice would be common sense, and to share my view of the Internet's influence of the future of human intelligence in 2020 would be more info should equal more smarts. Most everything will likely to stay the same and the main different in the way human intellect evolves will be laziness.”

“By 2020 a variety of technologies and services will allow humans to be connected as never before and enhance knowledge and intelligence. Google will be one or many companies providing tools, services and devices that not only allow access to information and knowledge, but also provide for life enhancing medical aides.”

“Did the Dewey Decimal system make people more stupid? Do the Yellow Pages make people more stupid? Google search is a system for indexing and organizing information, nothing more and nothing less. If having better, more robust, and more holistic access to information makes people stupid, then, yes, Google makes people stupid. But if that access to information creates a foundation upon which people can build more complete knowledge – which I believe it does – then the answer is that Google makes people smarter.”

“People will be more aware of the importance of assessing sources by 2020 and because of that more skilled in critical thinking.”

“Google makes things easier to find – you can spend more time on deeper thinking and analysis rather than searching for basic information.”

“People's use of Internet will enable a different human intelligence; people will have more access to information and this will help them not only to use the information but also to think different adding value to the simple information by questioning it and giving input with their own thoughts.”

“Google is just a means to get the information we need to make informed decisions. No different than using a Dewey Decimal system to find a book.”

“By 2020 we will be getting better at using networked computing resources to make informed decisions. We are still in a period of transition: system designers are exploring the capabilities afforded by new technologies, and users are learning how these technologies can be fruitfully employed. In the next decade, some of the dust will settle and we will begin to integrate the most useful new functionality into our daily routines. As for technologies' influence on decisionmaking, I think that the population is likely to bifurcate. Some individuals will find ways to use unprecedented access to information to become more informed and to make better choices. Others will not. Individuals in the latter camp may simply be unaware of the new resources, unable to access them, or they may be paralyzed by the onslaught of information."

“I don't think that access to information makes people smart or stupid. It's the usage of the information that conveys the intelligence. Google includes all infomartion, but does anyone think Google is intelligent? It's simply an information container.”

“I don't believe Google will increase or decrease our collective or individual intelligence. However, I do believe it has had, and will continue to have a negative effect on our attention spans and our demand for immediacy.”

“More people are reading via the Internet than newspapers, magazines, etc., and are interacting like never before. Validation is key and I think more and more people are not just reading but truth checking as well...or is that just hope?”

“The ease of locating information will spur people to seek more information. Because of the emphasis being placed on information literacy in schools and higher education people will have greater abilities to dig deeper and find more meaningful information.”

“I do not believe Google or the Internet will have a direct influence on human intelligence, but it does affect human knowledge, and to that degree, it makes us ‘smarter.’ We all will have greater access to facts, scientific explanations, and the best of other people's thought processes. That should make us individually better informed. Not necessarily more intelligent, but better informed.”

“This will depend a great deal on the state of education across the world. Are children in the early teen years taught how to make judgments about the information they encounter? If not, and the trend is not positive at the moment, then we will be only receivers rather than assessors of information.”

“Unprecedented access to just–in–time information will allow human intelligence to evolve as knowledge is drawn upon to support informed decision–making.”

“Information is not intelligence. Sure, we have more access to more information, but what're we doing with it? Awareness does not equal understanding. Knowing where to look for something doesn't mean you know what to do with it when you find it.”

“While the Internet provides a lot of good information, it does not teach us how to evaluate the source. Until we become better informational critics, the Internet will not make us smarter.”

Google – information – doesn't make us stupid. Ubiquitous online facts may decrease the amount people rely on their memory, as written language did."

“I'm not sure if ‘stupid’ is the best term to define a reduction in critical thinking and acceptance of any answer over the best one. Google has successfully eliminated the expert replacing knowledge with market driven information and commercial consensus.”

"Google allows curiosity and exploration of different topics, ideas, expands our minds."

“While I agree that access to information allows individuals to make better choices, I am fearful of the implications of social media across generations due to its impact on social engagement and interpersonal relationships.”

"It's not as simple as either of these two statements would have you believe. Having greater access to information isn't the reason for greater intelligence.”

“Understanding how to analyze and use that information leads to making better choices. On the other hand, Google's business model doesn't provide democratic access to a wide range of choices. It puts paid links at the top of hit lists, and its algorithm is designed to give more weight to links it has predetermined would be of use. Much of the deep Web is untouched. As for the premise of the second sentence, people's use of the Internet is making them more aware of the wider world outside their local, state, and national boundaries. It is opening them to other ways of thinking about subjects. It is also forcing people to read, rather than just sit in front of a television, to gain the latest news in current events or social and cultural items. That does not equate to either a loss or a gain in intelligence, but it does provide a wider array of evidence that can lead to making more informed decisions. [I don't want to be quoted directly for all the usual reasons related to privacy. I have worked in instructional design over the WWW since 1996 and have seen a lifetime of change professionally in these few short years. Personally, my experiences range from a six–year–old granddaughter who knows the term 'Blackberry' in a whole new context than I did at her age to siblings (age 60+) who text and order online, but who will remain primarily analog in their perception of the world. Their intelligence hasn't changed, but their approach to their world has.]"

“More free access to all information is a good thing. I just look back 10 years ago and remember shouting in the news room, ‘How do you spell?’ or ‘What's the population of …?’ I use Google all day every day.”

“This cuts both ways. Google will help us make better decisions when buying and selling goods/services/investments by providing greater transparency. I also think Google will arm us with information to ask pertinent questions when working with doctors, lawyers or other specialist professionals. However, there's a great deal of misinformation which is proliferated widely and repeated as fact. Many people fail to verify the source and substance of 'news' and gossip they happen to come across online. Google is not a news agency; it's not Google's role to distinguish fact from fiction. It's still up to the reader to intelligently interpret and validate information found online before passing it along as fact to friends and family. Sadly the average user doesn't recognize this responsibility.”

“Human intelligence isn't the right variable here. Information, yes, intelligence, no. We don't really get smarter from Google, but we may be more informed in some ways, but the problem is more of what people prefer to inform themselves about.”

“Whether Google improves us or not very much is a problem similar to John Stuart Mill's high culture versus low culture.”

“It has definitely contributed to ease of information dissemination and comparison but Google being a tool does not necessarily imply that it has had an effect on human intelligence. So I would not agree with either premise 100%.”

“Google and search engine technology will enable humans to grow their ‘right brain’ capabilities further. We will continue to find creative ways to ‘mash up’ information. I do not think that enabling easy access to information will make people ‘stupider,’ just ‘differenter.’”

“Google gives us a tool to acquire and use information. It doesn't help to analyze information. Google provides a way to help me search for information quickly and easily.”

“I'm not sure that raw intelligence will change but amount of knowledge will increase due to unprecedented access to more information.”

“Intelligent choices are not based on links singular links, despite their reputable source.”

“Human intelligence as an intrinsic notion does not appear to me as influenced by tools - what Google is… For those using it as a tool, it increases tremendously the field of reachable knowledge. This is nothing new… Intelligence cannot be enhanced or lowered. The brain can be used or not, and when unused, it degrades.”

“Google may be eclipsed by something else by 2020. The importance of the Internet is not about Google, it is about how the Web continues to change our lives. Traditional information paths are disappearing. We don't turn to printed matter for information, we reach for the Web no matter if we are tethered to a desktop or relaxing on a beach. Human intelligence will be enhanced because humans are curious and the Web provides endless opportunities to explore information.”

“Internet will not enhance or destroy human intelligence. It challenges people to use their brains in some new ways, but de–emphasizes some traits or ways of focusing one's intelligence. This is neither a good nor a bad thing.”

“Google should certainly not take all the blame for people becoming intellectually lazy (rather than stupid). But Google's services inadvertently reinforce other cultural trends that are clearly making young people intellectually lazy and complacent. This is ironic, since Google employs many, many astonishingly smart people.”

“Access to a wealth of information can only help us make informed decisions about investing, health and other aspects of life.”

“It isn't so much a matter of enhancing or harming intellect – just that we will think in different ways. Where before we had to go to the library for simple reference, it's now at our fingertips. Even the most obscure topics can be found quickly and easily, freeing up mental space for other things. Like speed–dial meant that we no longer had to remember phone numbers. The ability to sort through, evaluate and use all that information will be the key.”

“Shared information and easier access to information can only enhance collaboration, exposure and understanding.”

“Today, people count on having information at their fingertips, and when that information leads them astray, the people fail more spectacularly. This winter, three different groups of people were lost and stuck in the snow on closed roads because their navigation system directed them down roads they would have otherwise never taken.”

“People assume all information is accurate. They do not verify sources.”

“Throughout history, exposing people to more information and democratic processes has only been a good thing. People in 2020 will be people raised on the Internet; they know no other way of knowing. And they will have cultivated a good sense of how to understand what's credible and what isn't.”

"’Enhanced human intelligence’ is a bit strong – I think (hope) the Internet stops being novelty in terms of education, communication, information seeking, etc.”

“A single search engine with a deterministic search results will tend to limit the random component that adds to mankind's collective intelligence. Additionally, continuing pressure to achieve top placement will result in a selection of content that matches the search engine rules, rather than those that are of relevance or importance. Having said that, for those who understand the limitations of search technology, the opportunities presented by the aggregated access to a large breadth of opinion are great.”

“It takes intelligence to be able to use Google effectively; additionally, it broadens the sources and hence ability to gain knowledge.”

“The Internet itself does nothing; it's the users and the usage! And the same story as with TV.”

“We know a lot more by being able to answer our questions through Google and remember the answers. By 2020 it will be easier for us to find out what we need to know instantly through Google, a local cache on a mobile device, or other methods whenever that information is relevant. We have up–to–date information in our textbooks on topics which were previously hidden, obscure, or not profitable to research and publish.”

“There is virtually always a trend towards increasing complexity. Technology does its best to keep up at making it accessible, but the sheer scope of information available will mandate that some level of human selection will remain. Ease of access to a wide variety of information on any subject at any time will continue to enhance learning potential, spurring on intellectual growth.”

“Intelligence/wise are different from mear information. To live, we need information from various sources including the information about the environment in which we live. Mere Internet information won't be sufficient. But more and more people will belive the information form Web are true and start following it. Thus Google makes us stupid.”

“Just offering low barrier access to information does not enhance intelligence at all.”

"Using Google as a proxy for the totality of the Net is lazy. Yes, the Net and its information content will enhance human intelligence, not in the sense of how smart we are but in the sense of having information available for better decision making about all varieties of things."

“The assumption that Google makes us stupid is tied to the idea that there is only one kind of intelligence. While I do think the availability of certain kinds of tools is diminishing some of our capacities because we don't have to work so hard to get at information, we are becoming smarter in other ways.”

“Google can only respond intelligently to intelligently posed queries.”

“Why learn anything when an intelligent ubiquitous Web (not necessarily just Google) has all the answers for us?”

“I don't think Google makes humans smart or stupid. Google provides access to information and it's up to the individual to access it. What makes one smart or stupid is their ability to evaluate the information. That comes from our school system.”

“How exactly will human intelligence – evolving as it has for at least 50,000 years – be suddenly transformed for the better by a search engine? People may or may not be better informed, but smarter? Indeed, too much information may result in decision degradation among most people.”

“More information should make us more critical, so you need to know more to make decisions.”

“I'd take issue with the use of the word ‘stupid,’ and I doubt that IQ tests provide a meaningful measure of intelligence anyway. However, I think that the current evidence is that being able to find out information and connect with people over the Internet has both benefits and drawbacks, more isn't necessarily better, and whilst society is change in the face of the Internet that doesn't mean it's recognisable as either better or worse. The truth is much more nuanced and patchy than these statements imply.”

“Information>>Knowledge. BTW, I just skimmed the article ;)”

“I see no reason to believe that access to information hurts our ability recall or process it ourselves.”

"Intelligent access and effective utilization of information in the decision-making process can enhance decision-making. This statement is based on the assumption that integrity and lack of interference or manipulation in accuracy and retrieval of ALL pertinent information will exist."

“I don't think Google makes us stupid or not stupid, but I do think it erodes critical thinking. In a world where all information is immediately available, why bother to think?”

“Search technologies on the Internet expose everyone to new information and lead to new channels of exploration of still more information... it is exhilarating!”

“People are starting to over react to everything from the Online media without verification of facts. While rumors move markets, rumors also create riots and disruptions in public life! I think from the era of unverified information age, a new trust based information age will evolve.”

“Google will make us stupid if people will not understand that the Web is not Google.”

Many more anonymous responses will be added to this page in coming weeks!

>> Click here to return to the 2010 Future of the Internet survey homepage
>> Click here to read for-credit respondents' responses to this question

A project of the Elon University School of Communications
All rights reserved. Contact us at predictions@elon.edu