Elon University

The 2010 Survey: Responses to a tension pair about whether ‘Google is making people stupid’

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2010 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. 

The Future of the Internet Survey Cover PageThis 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.

Tension Predictions on Future Intelligence

Following is a selection of statements made by survey participants who took credit for their remarks. Much more content will be added to this section in the coming weeks, once it has been prepared for use online. To read the responses of anonymous participants to this question, click here.

Eminent tech scholar and analyst Nicholas Carr wrote a provocative cover story for the Atlantic Monthly magazine in the summer of 2008 with the cover line: “Is Google Making us Stupid?” He argued that the ease of online searching and distractions of browsing through the web were possibly limiting his capacity to concentrate. “I’m not thinking the way I used to,” he wrote, in part because he is becoming a skimming, browsing reader, rather than a deep and engaged reader. “The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas…. If we lose those quiet spaces, or fill them up with ‘content,’ we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture.”

Jamais Cascio, an affiliate at the Institute for the Future and senior fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, challenged Carr in a subsequent article in the Atlantic Monthly. Cascio made the case that the array of problems facing humanity – the end of the fossil-fuel era, the fragility of the global food web, growing population density, and the spread of pandemics, among others – will force us to get smarter if we are to survive. “Most people don’t realize that this process is already under way,” he wrote. “In fact, it’s happening all around us, across the full spectrum of how we understand intelligence. It’s visible in the hive mind of the Internet, in the powerful tools for simulation and visualization that are jump-starting new scientific disciplines, and in the development of drugs that some people (myself included) have discovered let them study harder, focus better, and stay awake longer with full clarity.” He argued that while the proliferation of technology and media can challenge humans’ capacity to concentrate there were signs that we are developing “fluid intelligence – the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems, independent of acquired knowledge.” He also expressed hope that techies will develop tools to help people find and assess information smartly.

With that as backdrop, respondents were asked to explain their answer to the tension pair statements and “share your view of the Internet’s influence on the future of human intelligence in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different in the way human intellect evolves?” What follows is a selection of the hundreds of written elaborations and some of the recurring themes in those answers:

Nicholas Carr and Google staffers have their say…

• “I feel compelled to agree with myself. But I would add that the Net’s effect on our intellectual lives will not be measured simply by average IQ scores. What the Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence, away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence. The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking.”– Nicholas Carr

• “My conclusion is that when the only information on a topic is a handful of essays or books, the best strategy is to read these works with total concentration. But when you have access to thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and people with expertise on the topic, a good strategy is to skim first to get an overview. Skimming and concentrating can and should coexist. I would also like to say that Carr has it mostly backwards when he says that Google is built on the principles of Taylorism [the institution of time-management and worker-activity standards in industrial settings]. Taylorism shifts responsibility from worker to management, institutes a standard method for each job, and selects workers with skills unique for a specific job. Google does the opposite, shifting responsibility from management to the worker, encouraging creativity in each job, and encouraging workers to shift among many different roles in their career.…Carr is of course right that Google thrives on understanding data. But making sense of data (both for Google internally and for its users) is not like building the same artifact over and over on an assembly line; rather it requires creativity, a mix of broad and deep knowledge, and a host of connections to other people. That is what Google is trying to facilitate.” – Peter Norvig, Google Research director

• “Google will make us more informed. The smartest person in the world could well be behind a plow in China or India. Providing universal access to information will allow such people to realize their full potential, providing benefits to the entire world.” – Hal Varian, Google, chief economist

The resources of the Internet and search engines will shift cognitive capacities. We won’t have to remember as much, but we’ll have to think harder and have better critical thinking and analytical skills. Less time devoted to memorization gives people more time to master those new skills.

• “Google allows us to be more creative in approaching problems and more integrative in our thinking. We spend less time trying to recall and more time generating solutions.” – Paul Jones, ibiblio, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

• “Google will make us stupid and intelligent at the same time. In the future, we will live in a transparent 3D mobile media cloud that surrounds us everywhere. In this cloud, we will use intelligent machines, to whom we delegate both simple and complex tasks. Therefore, we will lose the skills we needed in the old days (e.g., reading paper maps while driving a car). But we will gain the skill to make better choices (e.g., knowing to choose the mortgage that is best for you instead of best for the bank). All in all, I think the gains outweigh the losses.” – Marcel Bullinga, Dutch futurist at futurecheck.com

• “I think that certain tasks will be ‘offloaded’ to Google or other Internet services rather than performed in the mind, especially remembering minor details. But really, that a role that paper has taken over many centuries: did Gutenberg make us stupid? On the other hand, the Internet is likely to be front-and-centre in any developments related to improvements in neuroscience and human cognition research.” – Dean Bubley, wireless industry consultant

• “What the Internet (here subsumed tongue-in-cheek under ‘Google’) does is to support some parts of human intelligence, such as analysis, by replacing other parts such as memory. Thus, people will be more intelligent about, say, the logistics of moving around a geography because ‘Google’ will remember the facts and relationships of various locations on their behalf. People will be better able to compare the revolutions of 1848 and 1789 because ‘Google’ will remind them of all the details as needed. This is the continuation ad infinitum of the process launched by abacuses and calculators: we have become more “stupid” by losing our arithmetic skills but more intelligent at evaluating numbers.” – Andreas Kluth, writer, The Economist

• “It’s a mistake to treat intelligence as an undifferentiated whole. No doubt we will become worse at doing some things (‘more stupid’) requiring rote memory of information that is now available though Google. But with this capacity freed, we may (and probably will) be capable of more advanced integration and evaluation of information (‘more intelligent’).” – Stephen Downes, National Research Council, Canada

• “The new learning system, more informal perhaps than formal, will eventually win since we must use technology to cause everyone to learn more, more economically and faster if everyone is to be economically productive and prosperous. Maintaining the status quo will only continue the existing win/lose society that we have with those who can learn in present school structure doing OK, while more and more students drop out, learn less, and fail to find a productive niche in the future.” – Ed Lyell, former member of the Colorado State Board of Education and Telecommunication Advisory Commission

• “The question is flawed: Google will make intelligence different. As Carr himself suggests, Plato argued that reading and writing would make us stupid, and from the perspective of a preliterate, he was correct. Holding in your head information that is easily discoverable on Google will no longer be a mark of intelligence, but a sideshow act. Being able to quickly and effectively discover information and solve problems, rather than do it ‘in your head,’ will be the metric we use.” – Alex Halavais, vice president, Association of Internet Researchers

• “What Google does do is simply to enable us to shift certain tasks to the network – we no longer need to rote-learn certain seldom-used facts (the periodic table, the post code of Ballarat) if they’re only a search away, for example. That’s problematic, of course – we put an awful amount of trust in places such as Wikipedia where such information is stored, and in search engines like Google through which we retrieve it – but it doesn’t make us stupid, any more than having access to a library (or in fact, access to writing) makes us stupid. That said, I don’t know that the reverse is true, either: Google and the Net also don’t automatically make us smarter. By 2020, we will have even more access to even more information, using even more sophisticated search and retrieval tools – but how smartly we can make use of this potential depends on whether our media literacies and capacities have caught up, too.” – Axel Bruns, Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology

• “My ability to do mental arithmetic is worse than my grandfather’s because I grew up in an era with pervasive personal calculators…. I am not stupid compared to my grandfather, but I believe the development of my brain has been changed by the availability of technology. The same will happen (or is happening) as a result of the Googleization of knowledge. People are becoming used to bite-sized chunks of information that are compiled and sorted by an algorithm. This must be having an impact on our brains, but it is too simplistic to say that we are becoming stupid as a result of Google.”  Robert Acklund, Australian National University

• “We become adept at using useful tools, and hence perfect new skills. Other skills may diminish. I agree with Carr that we may on the average become less patient, less willing to read through a long, linear text, but we may also become more adept at dealing with multiple factors…. Note that I said ‘less patient,’ which is not the same as ‘lower IQ.’ I suspect that emotional and personality changes will probably more marked than ‘intelligence’ changes.”  Larry Press, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Technology isn’t the problem here. It is people’s inherent character traits. The Internet and search engines just enable people to be more of what they already are. If they are motivated to learn and they are shrewd, they will use new tools to explore in exciting new ways. If they are lazy or incapable of concentrating, they will find new ways to be distracted and goof off.

• “The question is all about people’s choices. If we value introspection as a road to insight, if we believe that long experience with issues contributes to good judgment on those issues, if we (in short) want knowledge that search engines don’t give us, we’ll maintain our depth of thinking and Google will only enhance it. There is a trend, of course, toward instant analysis and knee-jerk responses to events that degrades a lot of writing and discussion. We can’t blame search engines for that…. What search engines do is provide more information, which we can use either to become dilettantes (Carr’s worry) or to bolster our knowledge around the edges and do fact-checking while we rely mostly on information we’ve gained in more robust ways for our core analyses. Google frees the time we used to spend pulling together the last 10% of facts we need to complete our research. I read Carr’s article when The Atlantic first published it, but I used a Web search to pull it back up and review it before writing this response. Google is my friend.” – Andy Oram, editor and blogger, O’Reilly Media

• “For people who are readers and who are willing to explore new sources and new arguments, we can only be made better by the kinds of searches we will be able to do. Of course, the kind of Googled future that I am concerned about is the one in which my every desire is anticipated, and my every fear avoided by my guardian Google. Even then, I might not be stupid, just not terribly interesting.” Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor, University of Pennsylvania

• “I don’t think having access to information can ever make anyone stupider. I don’t think an adult’s IQ can be influenced much either way by reading anything and I would guess that smart people will use the Internet for smart things and stupid people will use it for stupid things in the same way that smart people read literature and stupid people read crap fiction. On the whole, having easy access to more information will make society as a group smarter though.” – Sandra Kelly, market researcher, 3M Corporation

• “The story of humankind is that of work substitution and human enhancement. The Neolithic revolution brought the substitution of some human physical work by animal work. The Industrial revolution brought more substitution of human physical work by machine work. The digital revolution is implying a significant substitution of human brain work by computers and ICTs in general. Whenever a substitution has taken place, men have been able to focus on more qualitative tasks, entering a virtuous cycle: the more qualitative the tasks, the more his intelligence develops; and the more intelligent he gets, more qualitative tasks he can perform…. As obesity might be the side-effect of physical work substitution by machines, mental laziness can become the watermark of mental work substitution by computers, thus having a negative effect instead of a positive one.”  Ismael Peña-Lopez, lecturer at the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science

• “Well, of course, it depends on what one means by ‘stupid’ – I imagine that Google, and it’s as yet unimaginable new features and capabilities will both improve and decrease some of our human capabilities. Certainly it’s much easier to find out stuff, including historical, accurate, and true stuff, as well as entertaining, ironic, and creative stuff. It’s also making some folks lazier, less concerned about investing in the time and energy to arrive at conclusions, etc.” – Ron Rice, University of California, Santa Barbara

• “Nick [Carr] says, ‘Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.’ Besides finding that a little hard to believe (I know Nick to be a deep diver, still), there is nothing about Google, or the Net, to keep anyone from diving – and to depths that were not reachable before the Net came along.”  Doc Searls, co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”

• “Google isn’t making us stupid – but it is making many of us intellectually lazy. This has already become a big problem in university classrooms. For my undergrad majors in communication studies, Google may take over the hard work involved in finding good source material for written assignments. Unless pushed in the right direction, students will opt for the top 10 or 15 hits as their research strategy. And it’s the students most in need of research training who are the least likely to avail themselves of more sophisticated tools like Google Scholar. Like other major technologies, Google’s search functionality won’t push the human intellect in one predetermined direction. It will reinforce certain dispositions in the end-user: stronger intellects will use Google as a creative tool, while others will let Google do the thinking for them.” – David Ellis, York University, Toronto

It’s not Google’s fault if users create stupid queries.

• “To be more precise, unthinking use of the Internet, and in particular untutored use of Google, has the ability to make us stupid, but that is not a foregone conclusion. More and more of us experience attention deficit, like Bruce Friedman in the Nicholas Carr article, but that alone does not stop us making good choices provided that the ‘factoids’ of information are sound that we use to make out decisions. The potential for stupidity comes where we rely on Google (or Yahoo, or Bing, or any engine) to provide relevant information in response to poorly constructed queries, frequently one-word queries, and then base decisions or conclusions on those returned items.” – Peter Griffiths, former Head of Information at the Home Office within the Office of the Chief Information Officer, United Kingdom

• “The problem isn’t Google; it’s what Google helps us find. For some, Google will let them find useless content that does not challenge their minds. But for others, Google will lead them to expect answers to questions, to explore the world, to see and think for themselves.” – Esther Dyson, longtime Internet expert and investor

• “People are already using Google as an adjunct to their own memory. For example, I have a hunch about something, need facts to support, and Google comes through for me. Sometimes, I see I’m wrong, and I appreciate finding that out before I open my mouth.” – Craig Newmark, founder Craig’s List

• “Google is a data access tool. Not all of that data is useful or correct. I suspect the amount of misleading data is increasing faster than the amount of correct data. There should also be a distinction made between data and information. Data is meaningless in the absence of an organizing context. That means that different people looking at the same data are likely to come to different conclusions. There is a big difference with what a world class artist can do with a paint brush as opposed to a monkey. In other words, the value of Google will depend on what the user brings to the game. The value of data is highly dependent on the quality of the question being asked.” – Robert Lunn, consultant, FocalPoint Analytics

The big struggle is over what kind of information Google and other search engines kick back to users. In the age of social media in which everyone online creates massive amounts of searchable content, it will become more difficult to separate high-quality material from junk.

• “Access to more information isn’t enough – the information needs to be correct, timely, and presented in a manner that enables the reader to learn from it. The current network is full of inaccurate, misleading, and biased information that often crowds out the valid information. People have not learned that ‘popular’ or ‘available’ information is not necessarily valid.”– Gene Spafford, Purdue University CERIAS, Association for Computing Machinery U.S. Public Policy Council

• “If we take ‘Google’ to mean the complex social, economic and cultural phenomenon that is a massively interactive search and retrieval information system used by people and yet also using them to generate its data, I think Google will, at the very least, not make us smarter and probably will make us more stupid in the sense of being reliant on crude, generalised approximations of truth and information finding. Where the questions are easy, Google will therefore help; where the questions are complex, we will flounder.” – Matt Allen, former president of the Association of Internet Researchers and associate professor of Internet studies at Curtin University in Australia

• “The challenge is in separating that wheat from the chaff, as it always has been with any other source of mass information, which has been the case all the way back to ancient institutions like libraries. Those users (of Google, cable TV, or libraries) who can do so efficiently will beat the odds, becoming ‘smarter’ and making better choices. However, the unfortunately majority will continue to remain, as Carr says, stupid.” – Christopher Saunders, managing editor Internetnews.com

• “The problem with Google that is lurking just under the clean design home page is the ‘tragedy of the commons’: the link quality seems to go down every year. The link quality may actually not be going down but the signal to noise is getting worse as commercial schemes lead to more and more junk links.” – Glen Edens, former senior vice president and director at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, chief scientist Hewlett Packard

Literary intelligence is very much under threat.

• “If one defines – or partially defines – IQ as literary intelligence, the ability to sit with a piece of textual material and analyze it for complex meaning and retain derived knowledge, then we are indeed in trouble. Literary culture is in trouble…. We are spending less time reading books, but the amount of pure information that we produce as a civilization continues to expand exponentially. That these trends are linked, that the rise of the latter is causing the decline of the former, is not impossible…. One could draw reassurance from today’s vibrant Web culture if the general surfing public, which is becoming more at home in this new medium, displayed a growing propensity for literate, critical thought. But take a careful look at the many blogs, post comments, Facebook pages, and online conversations that characterize today’s Web 2.0 environment…. This type of content generation, this method of ‘writing,’ is not only sub-literate, it may actually undermine the literary impulse…. Hours spent texting and e-mailing, according to this view, do not translate into improved writing or reading skills.” – Patrick Tucker, senior editor, The Futurist magazine

New literacies will be required to function in this world. In fact, the Internet might change the very notion of what it means to be smart. Retrieval of good information will be prized. Maybe a race of “extreme Googlers” will come into being.

• “The critical uncertainty here is whether people will learn and be taught the essential literacies necessary for thriving in the current infosphere: attention, participation, collaboration, crap detection, and network awareness are the ones I’m concentrating on. I have no reason to believe that people will be any less credulous, gullible, lazy, or prejudiced in ten years, and am not optimistic about the rate of change in our education systems, but it is clear to me that people are not going to be smarter without learning the ropes.” – Howard Rheingold, author of several prominent books on society and technology, teacher at Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley

• “Google makes us simultaneously smarter and stupider. Got a question? With instant access to practically every piece of information ever known to humankind, we take for granted we’re only a quick web search away from the answer. Of course, that doesn’t mean we understand it. In the coming years we will have to continue to teach people to think critically so they can better understand the wealth of information available to them.” – Jeska Dzwigalski, Linden Lab

• “We might imagine that in 10 years, our definition of intelligence will look very different. By then, we might agree on ‘smart’ as something like a ‘networked’ or ‘distributed’ intelligence where knowledge is our ability to piece together various and disparate bits of information into coherent and novel forms.”  Christine Greenhow, educational researcher, University of Minnesota and Yale Information and Society Project

• “Human intellect will shift from the ability to retain knowledge towards the skills to discover the information i.e. a race of extreme Googlers (or whatever discovery tools come next). The world of information technology will be dominated by the algorithm designers and their librarian cohorts. Of course, the information they’re searching has to be right in the first place. And who decides that?” – Sam Michel, founder Chinwag, community for digital media practitioners in the United Kingdom

One new “literacy” that might help is the capacity to build and use social networks to help people solve problems.

• “There’s no doubt that the Internet is an extension of human intelligence, both individual and collective. But the extent to which it’s able to augment intelligence depends on how much people are able to make it conform to their needs. Being able to look up who starred in the second season of ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’ on Wikipedia is the lowest form of intelligence augmentation; being able to build social networks and interactive software that helps you answer specific questions or enrich your intellectual life is much more powerful. This will matter even more as the Internet becomes more pervasive. Already my iPhone functions as the external, silicon lobe of my brain. For it to help me become even smarter, it will need to be even more effective and flexible than it already is. What worries me is that device manufacturers and Internet developers are more concerned with lock-in than they are with making people smarter. That means it will be a constant struggle for individuals to reclaim their intelligence from the networks they increasingly depend upon.” – Dylan Tweney, longtime tech journalist and senior editor at Wired.com, where he edits technology coverage and the Gadget Lab blog

Nothing can be bad that delivers more information to people, more efficiently. It might be that some people lose their way in this world, but overall, societies will be substantially smarter.

• “The Internet has facilitated orders of magnitude improvements in access to information. People now answer questions in a few moments that a couple of decades back they would not have bothered to ask, since getting the answer would have been impossibly difficult.” –John Pike, director, globalsecurity.org

• “Google is simply one step, albeit a major one, in the continuing continuum of how technology changes our generation and use of data, information and knowledge that has been evolving for decades. As the data and information goes digital and new information is created, which is at an ever increasing rate, the resultant ability to evaluate, distill, coordinate, collaborate, problem solve only increases along a similar line. Where it may appear a ‘dumbing down’ has occurred on one hand, it is offset (I believe in multiples) by how we learn in new ways to learn, generate new knowledge, problem solve, and innovate.”  Mario Morino, chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners

Google itself and other search technologies will get better over time and that will help solve problems created by too-much-information and too-much-distraction.

• “I’m optimistic that Google will get smarter by 2020 or will be replaced by a utility that is far better than Google. That tool will allow queries to trigger chains of high-quality information – much closer to knowledge than flood. Humans who are able to access these chains in high-speed, immersive ways will have more patters available to them that will aid decision-making. All of this optimism will only work out if the battle for the soul of the Internet is won by the right people – the people who believe that open, fast, networks are good for all of us.” – Susan Crawford, former member of President Obama’s National Economic Council, now on the law faculty at the University of Michigan

• “If I am using Google to find an answer, it is very likely the answer I find will be on a message board in which other humans are collaboratively debating answers to questions. I will have to choose between the answer I like the best. Or it will force me to do more research to find more information. Google never breeds passivity or stupidity in me: It catalyzes me to explore further. And along the way I bump into more humans, more ideas and more answers.” – Joshua Fouts, senior fellow for Digital Media & Public Policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency

The more we use the Internet and search, the more dependent on it we will become.

• “As the Internet gets more sophisticated it will enable a greater sense of empowerment among users. We will not be more stupid, but we will probably be more dependent upon it.” – Bernie Hogan, Oxford Internet Institute

Even in little ways, including in dinner table chitchat, Google can make people smarter.

• “[Family dinner conversations] have changed markedly because we can now look things up at will. That’s just one small piece of evidence I see that having Google at hand is great for civilization.”  Jerry Michalski, president, Sociate

We know more than ever, and this makes us crazy.

• “The answer is really: both. Google has already made us smarter, able to make faster choices from more information. Children, to say nothing of adults, scientists and professionals in virtually every field, can seek and discover knowledge in ways and with scope and scale that was unfathomable before Google. Google has undoubtedly expanded our access to knowledge that can be experienced on a screen, or even processed through algorithms, or mapped. Yet Google has also made us careless too, or stupid when, for instance, Google driving directions don’t get us to the right place. It ahs confused and overwhelmed us with choices, and with sources that are not easily differentiated or verified. Perhaps it’s even alienated us from the physical world itself – from knowledge and intelligence that comes from seeing, touching, hearing, breathing and tasting life. From looking into someone’s eyes and having them look back into ours. Perhaps it’s made us impatient, or shortened our attention spans, or diminished our ability to understand long thoughts. It’s enlightened anxiety. We know more than ever, and this makes us crazy.” – Andrew Nachison, co-founder, We Media

Maybe Google won’t make us more stupid, but it should make us more modest.

• “There is and will be lots more to think about, and a lot more are thinking. No, not more stupid. Maybe more humble.”  Sheizaf Rafaeli, Center for the Study of the Information Society, University of Haifa

Following is a selection of additional responses from those who chose to take credit for their remarks in the survey; some of these are the longer, full versions of expert responses that were already mentioned in brief excerpts above.

“Timely and available access to information is ALWAYS a prerequisite for knowledge, and knowledge is the foundation of intelligence. And ‘information’ notably includes dialogue and communications with others. EXCEPT to the extent that the information-monopolists – both conglomerates and governmental – manage to limit, choke, censor and flat-out prohibit net-based and/or net-aided access to information, our intelligence will improve.” Jim Warren, founder and chair of the first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference and longtime technology and society activist

“While gathering all the information, we gather also a lot of knowledge which will lead people to become even more intelligent and thus we will not become stupid. Stupid could become those who have no access to the Internet world = knowledge. Rudi Vansnick, president and CEO, Internet Society, Belgium, board member, EURALO; 

“Though I like and respect Nick Carr a great deal, my answer to the title question in his famous essay in The Atlantic – ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?’ – is no. Nothing that informs us makes us stupid. Nick says, ‘Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.’ Besides finding that a little hard to believe (I know Nick to be a deep diver, still), there is nothing about Google, or the Net, to keep anyone from diving – and to depths that were not reachable before the Net came along. Also, compare using the Net to TV viewing. There is clearly a massive move to the former from the latter. And this move, at the very least, requires being less of a potato. But that’s all a separate matter from Google itself. There is no guarantee that Google will be around, or in the same form, in the year 2020. First, there are natural limits to any form of bigness, and Google is no exception to those. Trees do not grow to the sky. Second, nearly all of Google’s income is from advertising. There are two problems with this. One is that improving a pain in the ass does not make it a kiss – and advertising is, on the whole, still a pain in the user’s ass. The other is that advertising is a system of guesswork, which by nature makes it both speculative and inefficient. Google has greatly reduced both those variables, and made advertising accountable for the first time: advertisers pay only for click-throughs. Still, for every click-through there are hundreds or thousands of “impressions” that waste server cycles, bandwidth, pixels, rods and cones. The cure for this inefficiency can’t come from the sell side. It must come from the demand side. When customers have means for advertising their wants and needs (e.g. “I need a stroller for twins in downtown Boston in the next two hours. Who’s coming through and how?”) – and to do this securely and out in the open marketplace (meaning not just in the walled gardens of Amazons and eBays) — much of advertising’s speculation and guesswork will be obsoleted. Look at it this way: we need means for demand to drive supply at least as well as supply drives demand. By 2020 we’ll have that. (Especially if we succeed at work we’re doing through ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Center.) Google is well positioned to help with that shift. But it’s an open question whether or not they’ll get behind it. Third, search itself is at risk. For the last fifteen years we have needed search because Web grew has lacked a directory other than DNS (which only deals with what comes between the // and the /.) Google has succeeded because it has proven especially good at helping users find needles in the Web’s vast haystack. But what happens if the Web ceases to be a haystack? What if the Web gets a real directory, like LANs had back in the ‘80s — or something like one? The UNIX file paths we call URLs (e.g. http://domain.org/folder/folder/file.html) presume a directory structure. This alone suggests that a solution to the haystack problem will eventually be found. When it is, search then will be more of a database lookup than the colossally complex thing it is today (requiring vast data centers that suck huge amounts of power off the grid, as Google constantly memorizes every damn thing it can find in the entire Web). Google is in the best position to lead the transition from the haystack Web to the directory-enabled one. But Google may remain married to the haystack model, just as the phone companies of today are still married to charging for minutes and cable companies are married to charging for channels — even though both concepts are fossils in an all-digital world.” Doc Searls, fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University and Harvard Law School, fellow at Center for Information Technology and Society, University of California-Santa Barbara; 

“This first question is not about a technical or policy issue on the Internet or even how people use the Internet, but a purported risk to human intelligence and methods of inquiry. Usually, questions about how technology affects our learning or practice really concern our values and how we choose technologies, not the technology itself. And that’s the basis on which I address such questions. I am not saying technology is neutral, but that it is created, adopted, and developed over time in a dialog with people’s desires. I respect the questions posed by Nicholas Carr in his Atlantic article – although it’s hard to take such worries seriously when he suggests that even the typewriter could impoverish writing – and would like to allay his concerns. The question is all about people’s choices. If we value introspection as a road to insight, if we believe that long experience with issues contributes to good judgment on those issues, if we (in short) want knowledge that search engines don’t give us, we’ll maintain our depth of thinking and Google will only enhance it. There is a trend, of course, toward instant analysis and knee-jerk responses to events that degrades a lot of writing and discussion. We can’t blame search engines for that. The urge to scoop our contacts intersects with the starvation of funds for investigative journalism to reduce the value of the reports we receive about things that are important for us. Google is not responsible for that either (unless you blame it for draining advertising revenue from newspapers and magazines, which I don’t). In any case, social and business trends like these are the immediate influences on our ability to process information, and searching has nothing to do with them. What search engines do is provide more information, which we can use either to become dilettantes (Carr’s worry) or to bolster our knowledge around the edges and do fact-checking while we rely mostly on information we’ve gained in more robust ways for our core analyses. Google frees the time we used to spend pulling together the last 10% of facts we need to complete our research. I read Carr’s article when The Atlantic first published it, but I used a Web search to pull it back up and review it before writing this response. Google is my friend.” Andy Orem, senior technical editor for O’Reilly Media, a global leader in technology publishing, and a blogger for O’Reilly Radar

“I believe that the sustained use of Google provides the potential for an increase in intelligence along side the potential for more passive/decreased intelligence or even a lower IQ in some individuals. I do not see this as a yes or no answer. Access to information increases awareness and potentially the intelligence of the searcher, but having the skill to gain access to reliable, quality information is not something that many Google users arrive to Google with. In it’s simplicity Google provides quick search results and these results are based on the words used and search expertise / technique that the users utilizes. Those that are search savvy and can conduct effective searches that obtain quality results will most likely increase the quality of the information they receive and this may have an effect on their intelligence – those that are unable to search effectively do not have the same level of access to quality/applicable information. I also believe that the integration for search into social media (which is something that may be unavoidable) has the potential to ‘push’ information to users that are not as search ‘savvy’ and could increase intelligence in this group but as things are I believe that the both are true and an increase, or decrease in intelligence is dependant on the user’s ability to search effectively.” Stephan Adelson, president of Adelson Consulting Services and founder of Internet Interventions, a company that promotes health and patient support; 

“It’s damn foolish to assert that providing more sources of information from all over the world somehow makes us dumber. Dumb people will remain dumb, but those posessing of even a modicum of curiosity will be able to find solid information in moments, rather than spending days, weeks or months in libraries.” Chris DiBona, open source and public sector engineering manager at Google; 

“I don’t like the word ‘intelligence’ – as a general matter I believe that here in the US people are not taught to use their minds and do critical thinking, that is quite a different thing than ‘intelligence’ but it affects our ability to solve problems. As for Google, it provides more data and more information. And as such it gives us the *potential* to be better at solving problems. However, our lack of critical thinking abilities, along with a developing tendency to not go beyond secondary (or worse) sources to the primary sources, is going to lead to a kind of net-based idiocracy. There is much beyond merely Google that adds to this situation. Let’s take one particular thing: Wikipedia. The Wikipedia is becoming a common authority yet it’s policies reject primary source materials – Wikipedia would have rejected a page by George Washington describing the US Constitutional Convention (of which he was the chairman.) Really it all comes down to our educational systems – do we teach our children (and ourselves) to properly and creatively use the materials that Google provides or do we continue down the road of simple acceptance of pre-digested Fox-News like materials?” Karl Auerbach, chief technical officer at InterWorking Labs, Inc.; 

“’Enhanced human intelligence’ isn’t an ideal phrase given the differing definitions of intelligence, but I think people will be better at accessing and assessing the quality of information, they will obviously have access to much more information of use and of interest to them, and generally be better informed.” –Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work at Microsoft Research; 

“Both arguments are wrong. The Internet will not make us either smarter or more stupid. Human intelligence is a constant. We are no smarter or more stupid now than we were when we were hunter-gathers. I naively believe that the total sum of human intelligence does not change before and after Google. Humans now can excercise 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!) People always over estimate the impact of any particular technology. I really don’t think either is really correct.” –Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant, moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT in the 1990s, he has written a number of articles for Wired, Discover and other tech publications; 

“Throughout history many predictions have been made how technology would eliminate various human skills – the typewriter would eliminate penmanship, the TV would turn us into idiots, the player piano would eliminate musicians, etc., etc. No doubt these technologies did change society and eliminate the need for certain skills, but overall they enhanced our quality of life and let us focus on more important creative skills. I think access to Google will make us much smarter and allow us to do much more analytical thinking rather than spending a lot of time looking up facts.”–Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer at CANARIE Inc. and member of the Internet Society board of trustees

“Faced with a forced choice of scenarios, I chose the more optimistic. However, the answer lies in two words, ‘That depends.’ That depends on how we use the Internet. Will we use it as a replacement for human interaction or as an enhancement for human interaction?” Gary Marx, founder and president, Center for Public Outreach; 

“Nobody got to be stupid by having access to information. In 10 years, it is possible that education systems will improve through access to the Internet (although change happens slowly in academia), but in that time more people will have gained new knowledge through the Internet and will be pressuring their leaders to make better decisions.” –Adrian Schofield, manager, applied research unit, Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, president, Computer Society South Africa;

“It seems to me that the likelihood is much greater for enhancing human intelligence as access to the Internet and what it offers people becomes greater, spreading to more countries. While such a development in and of itself can’t enhance human intelligence, it’s a perfectly reasonable conjecture that it’s more likelier than not.” –Neville Hobson, head of social media in Europe for WCG Group and principal of NevilleHobson.com; 

“Google is one of what will be many new technologies that bring information to the world. You Tube is doing this in video. All is part of the world-changing shift from centuries of being an information scarce world where only the power elite have access to information; to an information abundant age with everyone having massive access to massive information. This is the driving or disruptive force that will change formal learning at every level. Schools and Colleges, as well as Church and Government, have always been based on information scarcity and top down control of information and people. Formal education is more and more becoming a hindrance to student learning. That is, students sit in class listening to a talking head at 120 words per minute, whereas they could be guided to learning what they currently have a passion for, using access to the world’s data in a Just-in-time Learning modality. They would be reading at 400 wpm, or more if we ever focused on everyone speed-reading. Video’s convey information even faster. Current government, and especially schools and their rules/regulations, job protection, will delay the transformation to a better learning environment. The new learning system, more informal perhaps than formal, will eventually win since we must use technology to cause everyone to learn more, more economically and faster if everyone is to be economically productive and prosperous. Maintaining the status quo will only continue the existing win/lose society that we have with those who can learn in present school structure doing OK, while more and more students drop out, learn less, and fail to find a productive niche in the future.” –Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics, Adams State College, designer and consultant for using computers and telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st century learning communities;

“Google does not make us stupid; but it can make us complacent. For example, people get so conditioned into using Google for quick answers that if Google doesn’t exist or can’t be reached, they will forget how to do things ‘the old fashioned way.’ Thus raises issues of individual determinism and ability to be self-sufficient in the absence of the Google engine (or ICTs in general).” –Richard Forno, visiting scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and principal consultant for KRvW Associates; served as the first chief security officer at Network Solutions (the InterNIC);

“By 2020, some Internet users will be ‘smarter,’ in the sense that they will be taking advantage of new affordances in ubiquitous networked computing, augmented reality, and information filters (both algorithmic and social) to navigate their worlds. Others may be more ‘stupid,’ as they allow themselves to be overwhelmed with a constant stream of low-value information. On the whole, one hopes that the value of ‘smart users’ will generally raise the intelligence of society, but this will require that we value highly skilled information curators, such as librarians, journalists, and critics.” –Nathaniel James, executive director, OneWebDay, now with the Mozilla Foundation’s Drumbeat Project; 

“The Internet is likely to make knowledge more distributed; I see a natural evolution towards new schemas in which we, knowledge consumers, better learn how to store and distribute knowledge. Rather than trying to recall everything, we will evolve strategies for storage and retrieval – ie. this knowledge goes here, in this device. The downside of this evolution is that when we lose the network or grid, we will negatively impacted.”Fred Stutzman, Ph.D candidate, researcher and teaching fellow, School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill; 

“The story of humankind is that of work substitution and human enhancement. The Neolithic revolution brought the substitution of some human physical work by animal work. The Industrial revolution brought more substitution of human physical work by machine work. The digital revolution is implying a significant substitution of human brain work by computers and ICT’s in general. Whenever a substitution has taken place, humans have been able to focus on more qualitative tasks, entering a virtuous cycle: the more qualitative the tasks, the more his intelligence develops; and the more intelligent he gets, more qualitative tasks he can perform. In general, the Internet is implying the substitution of lower level brain work (e.g. memorization, routine and repetitive calculations) leaving more room for more complex and abstract thinking, which triggers the connection of more synapses and, thus, improves intelligence. On the other hand, the ability to perform more complex and abstract thinking has to be backed with more and better information, which is also being provided by the increasing pervasiveness of the Internet, the availability of data which grows exponentially and, more important, the concurrence of more people (more human beings, more brains) in one’s personal network, thus enriching his knowledge sphere. Of course, drawbacks can also appear. Firstly, we have assumed that freeing resources (brain work) automatically implies reallocating the resources in higher-level tasks. It can happen, nevertheless, that what remains constant is not total effort, but total output, thus reducing total effort. As obesity might be the side-effect of physical work substitution my machines, mental laziness can become the watermark of mental work substitution by computers, thus having a negative effect instead of a positive one. Secondly, performing higher levels of mental activity can imply a certain level of mental capacity and some specific skills (digital literacy, abstract thinking, a specific IQ, etc.). If weak men would not be welcome in ancient Sparta, it is very likely that intellectual skills will imply new drivers of social exclusion in the nearer future. Indeed, capacity building, education, training might well be one of the most difficult challenges in the years to come.” –Ismael Peña-López, lecturer, School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia, researcher, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute; 

“Google does make us lazy, but so too does much other labour-saving technology.” –Jeremy Malcolm, project coordinator, Consumers International, and co-director of the Internet Governance Caucus

“The Internet, Google and similar applications are resources, tools. A capable craftsperson with better options will chose better tools and will be able to do a better job. The more information that the Internet, or Google, for example, can provide us with, the more we can learn, innovate and create. Too much information? Good and bad information? We will learn to search, to evaluate, to narrow down the possibilities. Google does not make us smart or stupid any more than having more books than we can possibly read in a lifetime makes us smart or stupid.” –Ginger Paque, co-director of Internet Governance Caucus and leader in Diplo Foundation Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme; 

“Stupidity is not a property of computing; nor can it be imbued on people. People have to actively choose to be stupid. Uses of applications provided by Google will allow some people to create or advance phenomenal insight. Others will showcase their native stupidity in more powerful and visible ways.” Steve Sawyer, associate professor, college of information sciences and technology, Penn State University

“There is no reason why an intelligent tool like Google would increase the stupidity of the humankind.” –Raimundo Beca, partner at Imaginacción, a Chilean consulting company and member of the ICANN Board appointed by the Address Supporting Organization; 

“Google, or the Internet, is not having a profound effect either way. Intelligence has nothing, in my view, to do with what technology you do or don’t have access to. I will say that the ‘net and Google provide an opportunity for education to focus and getting people to learn how to make connections and synthesize what they know. In a world where you can look up almost any ‘basic’ fact in 2 seconds means it might not be necessary for people to spend SO MUCH time memorizing large bodies of factual minutiae.” –Joshua Freeman, director of interactive services, Columbia University Information Technology

“Anyone who thinks the Internet has made us stupid is overestimating the intelligence of previous generations. The average person is much more intelligent and informed as a result of the Internet. The danger is that the Internet may make some people more dogmatic and intolerant. It is easier than ever to read and listen to people who agree with you.” –Andrew Crain, vice president and deputy general counsel at Qwest Communications; 

“The searchable Web makes an ever greater variety of information ever more accessible. The challenge of course, is to ask meaningful questions, a problem that the Internet will no be able to solve.” –Mary Joyce, co-founder, DigiActive.org; 

“I don’t believe much changes human intelligence – the evidence suggests it hasn’t really changed much over the years. Google will certainly change behaviour but I don’t think it will make us clever or less clever, just potentially more productive.” William Webb, head of research and development, Ofcom; 

“The Internet has facilitated orders of magnitude improvements in access to information. People now answer questions in a few moments that a couple of decades back they would not have bothered to ask, since getting the answer would have been impossibly difficult.” –John Pike, expert on global security, defense, space and intelligence policy, director and founder of GlobalSecurity.org, former director of several projects at the Federation of American Scientists; 

“It depends to some extent on what you mean by ‘stupid.’ People may depend on the Internet for details, but that will just free them to think about the actual topics and make connections they wouldn’t normally make.”–Charlie Martin, correspondent and science and technology editor, Pajamas Media, technical writer, PointSource Communications, correspondent, Edgelings.com;

“Overall, I agree with the premise that increased access to information will lead to people’s being able to make better-informed choices and to be exposed to multiple points of view, and I disagree that people’s use of the Internet will lower anyone’s IQ. However, I also think it’s true that good information can be used badly, and that bad information is as easy to publish and find online as good information.Therefore, I believe that unless increased access to information is accompanied by an understanding of how to think critically about sources and content, it will not, in and of itself, make most people smarter, either. Google is simply another means of finding out – about the world, about facts, about people – and it requires a set of skills that are not the same as the skills needed to find information in other sources (such as print media, television or radio programs, and so on).”Rachel S. Smith, vice president, NMC Services, New Media Consortium; 

“There will always be stupid people. There will always be smart people. Google is a tool. Like the calculator before it – this tool can be used by smart people to solve amazing problems. It can also be used by stupid people as a crutch. Google doesn’t ‘make’ people anything.” David Cohn, director, spot.us, citizen journalism expert; 

“Most people acquire their brain-stored library early in life. Young people have turned to computers. Their accessible libraries will grow at a faster rate than ours. Information is today’s major commodity. They will be smarter than us. Instant, accurate and variable information will help people thinking and making decisions.” –George Cowan, founding president and distinguished fellow of the Santa Fe Institute;

“Google will neither make us smart or stupid. History teaches us that the ancient Greeks and Romans were capable of deep thought and profound insight, without Google and without Gutenberg. They were also capable of cruelty, venality, and depravity. Our human potential has remained roughly the same over the past few thousand years. But we also know that more stimulating environments lead to greater curiosity and insight. To that extent, I’d side with Google – and the Internet – making us smarter.” –Dean Thrasher, founder, Infovark;

“Having information is always better than not having information, even ancient societies collected information; i.e. libraries found at Roman ruins like Ephesus. Now we just have better ways of using all the information.” Geraldine MacDonald, self-employed

“The Web has truly opened the door to expand and make available knowledge and information. Our world today, due to access, is in unknown territory and one where the true benefits are not yet known. What is known however is that education, community, knowledge, and more is increasing at a faster rate than ever before. The challenge is how to ensure the primary source and authority of the information is communicated and known for those accessing knowledge through the engines and by other means. The challenge that we now face comes from the trust the Internet audience puts in the results demonstrated by the major search engines, how we resolve this will be what we most need to focus on in the current and future to ensure that knowledge, that which is primary and authoritative is truly understood and sought.” –Kevin Novak, co-chair of eGov Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium and VP of integrated Web strategy at the American Institute of Architects; formerly director of Web services for the Library of Congress;

“Merriam-Webster defines intelligence as ‘the ability to learn or understand’. While Google enhances access to information, it does nothing to improve human beings’ ability to learn or understand. People using Google do not become more intelligent. While I do not think Google can make us more intelligent, it certainly can’t make us stupid neither.” –Luc Faubert, president of dDocs Information Inc., consultant in IT governance and change management;

“The noun ‘information’ isn’t as much use in thinking about this question as is the verb ‘to inform.’ To the degree that our social networks intensify and complexify, and to the degree that we retain control of our autonomy in sustaining those connections, our ‘collective’ intelligence will continue to increase. We can and will make our networks and then our networks will make us.” –Garth Graham, board member of Telecommunities Canada, promoting local community network initiatives; 

“People’s IQ will not vary greatly. However, the expectany of how information is gathered and memorize will change. Perhaps people will tend to remember less information on their heads as it will be easliy available online.”Homero Gil de Zuniga, Internet researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, US

“Someone who values knowledge will be enhanced by Google. Inherently humans quest to learn about the nature of things. Providing easier access to information will only accelerate someone’s acquisition of knowledge.” –Daniel King, senior consultant, Old Dog Consulting, founder of Path Computation.com and a co-founder and formerly vice president at Aria Networks; 

“I tend to be optimistic, but I cannot agree with such a statement without emphasizing the necessity of good media literacy. If people – and particularly young people – are not taught how to critically search for information online, then Google will indeed make us stupid. But if the issue of media literacy can be moved to the essence of the debate, then perhaps people will be more information savvy than ever before.” Janelle Ward, assistant professor, Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam; 

“Neither of the two alternatives will come through, partly because the relation between a search engine and human intelligence cannot be depicted in this simplistic frame, partly because we will see many new kinds of (more specialized) search engines and search methods within the time span mentioned. Niels Ole Finnemann, professor and director of the Center for Internet Research, Aarhus University, Denmark; 

Ricardo Holmquist: Google, as the Internet by itself is only a tool, that will largely improve what we do, if we do stupid things, will improve our stupidity, if we do use it for good, for development, for usefull things, yes, it will potentiate the good things.” –Ricardo Holmquist, president of the Venezuela chapter of the Internet Society, owner of MTI Servicios, director at Cavedatos and vice president at Memorex Telex; 

“I am optimistic. Just as calculators in math classrooms 30 years ago allowed high school students to tackle more realistic and advanced problems and not be bogged down by basic computations, access to a range of immediate atoms of potential (and likely contradictory) evidence on any topic will lead to better information assessment and synthesis. –Gary Marchionini, professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US; 

“My answer is predicated on the possibly unrealistically optimistic hope that self-policing of the quality of shared information will increase dramatically over the coming years. If Wikipedia and its ilk can adopt a Slashdot-esque user moderation model (only one not so reliant on adolescents with hormone-driven territorial urges), the Web has the potential to evolve into the hive intelligence it so desperately wants to be. Peer review continues to be the most robust mechanism for quality control; it will need to be greatly increased in scope for Google stupidity to be minimized.” –Robert G. Ferrell, information systems security officer for the National Business Center of the U.S. Department of the Interior; 

“Google not only gives us access to information it enables us to ask more questions, and inspires curiosity beyond what was previously the norm.” –Solana Larsen, managing editor, Global Voices Online, former editor of openDemocracy.net; 

“If we measure IQs in 2020 as we measure them today, then, most definitely, measured IQs will be lower. The Internet brings new ways to do things, and we have to measure the new skill-set, not the old one.” César Córcoles, professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain;

“Google is simply one step, albeit a major one, in the continuing continuum of how technology changes our generation and use of data, information, and knowledge that has been evolving for decades. As the data and information goes digital and new information is created, which is at an ever increasing rate, the resultant ability to evaluate, distill, coordinate, collaborate, problem solve only increases along a similar line. Where it may appear a ‘dumbing down’ has occurred on one hand, it is offset (I believe in multiples) by how we learn in new ways to learn, generate new knowleldge, problem solve, and innovate.” –Mario Morino, co-founder and chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners, chairman, Morino Institute; 

“Knowledge is power, even if it is gained quickly via Google. Whether it remains learnt or simply acquired speedily to give an immediate answer remains to be seen. I suspect we forget quickly.” –Daniel Schindler, no professional affiliation listed

“It is one the fundamental underpinnings of democracy that people make better decisions with free access to information and opinions. By 2020, as more information makes its way to the net, the Internet will require more intelligence to search and to find true data. Since there is information supporting every opinion, people will need to be more intelligent about what they are reading. We see the underpinnings of better evaluation developing now. Teachers no longer accept poor Web sourcing – so students are being taught to be smarter about finding and interpreting information. As sources multiply those source/trust decisions will need to be made at every turn. Students 25 years ago didn’t have to think about where their information was coming from – it was handed to them by trusted publishers and librarians. That’s why those who first used the Internet were too trusting. The younger users are not – they think about what they are reading. They do not trust implicitly.” Barbara Ferry, director of business and editorial research, National Geographic Society Libraries and Information Services;

“Gutenberg didn’t make us stupid, neither will Google.” –Don McLagan, board of directors member for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, consultant to digital entrepreneurs, retired CEO of Compete Inc.; 

“By making possible broad searches across a vast range of sources, Google allows people around the world to find answers to questions, to fact-check statements from the news media and from the government, to discover schools and museums, scholarships and aid programs. Google serves many countries, including countries where access to recent books is very rare. Of course Google helps people become smarter.” –Mindy McAdams, Knight Chair in journalism, University of Florida, author, “Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages,” journalist,

“Access to information is only as useful as our ability to deploy that information successfully in relation to the world around us, and the over-abundance and under-reliability of information provided by Web-Crawl facilities like Google hinder our ability to deploy information in a way which is ultimately productive a simultaneous erosion of our knowledge base and our virtues of patience, planning and purposefulness.” –Francis J.L. Osborn, philosopher, University of Wales-Lampeter

“More access to information allows people to make better-informed, and ultimately qualitatively better decisions. In practical terms, eBay and Wikipedia offer more in this regard than Google, per se.” –Bill Woodcock, research director, Packet Clearing House, a non-profit research institute, vice president of operations, Netsurfer Publishing, technical advisory board, Switch and Data / PAIX, co-founder and technical advisor, Nepal Internet Exchange and Uganda Internet Exchange; 

“It is not a question of what the Internet will do to us, but what we will do with the Internet. Human reaction being what it is, inquisitive in nature and also obsequiously apathetic, interactions with the Internet will span human interactions. Ultimately, use of the Internet will not enhance human intelligence for those who don’t care about it. But that doesn’t really matter any more than whether an obsession with what’s under the hood of a big rig matters for anyone else but truckers. The ultimate fact is that, for those embracing the Internet, they will have an opportunity to engage in new intellectual horizons by choice and expand their knowledge. Because the Internet is a ubiquitous forum for most students today, it must follow that the Internet will inform future generations. And because intelligence abounds on the Internet (as well as ignorance), there is ample opportunity for enhanced human intelligence, mostly due to the preponderance of intellectuals and academics who wander it. The only question is whether humans will continue to question the information they have at hand. I think they must and will.” –Laurel Butman, management analyst, city of Portland, Oregon, US

“Google, and every search engine, serves as a memory extender. They facilitate easy recall, and in particular recall based on natural language and half remembered specifics. As such they give the illusion of making us smarter as our memory now appears bigger (when linked to the Internet at least). Smarter? Well, that’s a different story. But, if we have more items at our fingertips, perhaps we have a better chance of integrating across multiple pieces of information and thus acting smarter. However, a caveat is that retrieval based only on popular rank, while convenient and usually just what we want, does run the risk of obscuring less popular information. Google should not be considered the only access mechanism to knowledge.” –Caroline Haythornthwaite, professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, research focuses on how information technologies support work, learning and social interaction; 

“Of course Google won’t make us dumber. It is a substitute for memory, not for analysis.” Stewart Baker, general counsel to the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, former general counsel for the US National Security Agency and first leader of the policy directorate of the Department of Homeland Security; 

“The idea that Google makes us stupid sits right next to Andrew Keen’s rants about the ‘cult of the amateur’ in a long line of statements that are designed for maximum media impact but are backed up by nothing more than a vague notion that ‘things were better in the old days.’ What Google does do is simply to enable us to shift certain tasks to the network – we no longer need to rote-learn certain seldomly-used facts (the periodic table, the post code of Ballarat) if they’re only a search away, for example. That’s problematic, of course – we put an awful amount of trust in places such as Wikipedia where such information is stored, and in search engines like Google through which we retrieve it – but it doesn’t make us stupid, any more than having access to a library (or in fact, access to writing) makes us stupid. That said, I don’t know that the reverse is true, either: Google and the Net also don’t automatically make us smarter. By 2020, we will have even more access to even more information, using even more sophisticated search and retrieval tools – but how smartly we can make use of this potential depends on whether our media literacies and capacities have caught up, too.” Axel Bruns, associate professor, Media & Communication, Queensland University of Technology and general editor of Media and Culture journal; 

“Google and similar applciations/technologies are tools to assist people to access more information when needed and without much time and expense. Yet, I think individuals will still want the ability to assess the information available and to select the best choices, based on that analysis.” –David Olive, vice president of policy development support at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), formerly general manager of Fujitsu’s Washington, D.C., office

“Google will neither make us stupid nor make us smart, so I would have preferred a third option here. Nevertheless, the issue is not with the information available, it is with human intelligence. Use of the Internet (or any other technology) per se is not likely to enhance human intelligence. Only education and motivation will lead to such enhancement.” Steve Jones, professor of communication and associate dean of liberal arts and sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago, and co-founder of the Association of Internet Researchers; 

“Internet search feeds infoholicism. Now, dinner table arguments are settled because someone uses their phone to find the answer on Wikipedia. People are no longer willing to wait or to take time to learn new things. Delayed gratification is going out of fashion – fast. In 2020, access to knowledge will be wider, but if we aren’t careful, understanding will be more superficial.” Gervase Markham, programmer, Mozilla Foundation, and winner of a Google-O’Reillly 2006 Open Source Award for Best Community Activist; 

“Sure, we have more access to more information, but without the ability to filter and contextualize that information we will be no wiser than today. Just having facts and arguments does not make a person smarter; it’s the connections one can draw from one issue to the next that make a person intelligent. Google will help us find information and if we now how to use that knowledge then we will be much better off than today.” Adam Clare, co-founder of ThingsAreGood.com and TorGame and an adjunct faculty member at George Brown Collegein Toronto, Canada, where he teaches game-design theory and game psychology; 

“I don’t think Google makes us stupid but it does make us lazy and more smug than we should be. Just because you do a Google search and find information in 10 minutes on an issue does not mean you understand it or its implications. Google also does not separate out well-supported and well-researched information from just plain silly or non-factual stuff that may appear to be valid. It can’t help sort out the simple and uninformed from the well thought through. I do think over time people can and are learning how to better parse out the information they receive. But not everyone takes the time to think about what they read. That is not Google’s fault but because it is so simple to use, it makes many believe they are more informed than they are. Today, university professors would tell you that they rarely see books cited in bibliographies because it is harder to look through them than to do a search online. That too may change as more books are scanned and made available online.” Link Hoewing, assistant vice president for Internet and technology issues, Verizon;

“As the Internet gets more sophisticated it will enable a greater sense of empowerment among users. We will not be more stupid, but we will probably be more dependent upon it. I assume that we will expect a steady and anticipatory stream of information. I imagine a state of passive searching that monitors what we do and readies the information – we will go from on demand to seamless integration. We will make great use of this information, but will feel intense anxiety in its absence.” Bernie Hogan, research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; 

“It was difficult to choose between the two poles offered but, on balance, the Internet will lead to an increasing proportion of people accepting the easy answers so readily available. There will be, however, a divergence in which thoughtful users become smarter, guided by increasingly sophisticated tools to find relationships and synthesize disparate data.” —Charles M. Perrottet, founding principal, Futures Strategy Group LLC;

“Computing power is taking over human mental processing power. You can see this most evidently among school-going children. Without exercise to stretch the body, we cannot grow strong; similarly, without the mental stretches, the mind cannot expand. The most affected would be the logical thinking that computers are best at. We can expect a decline in that area. But it is also freeing up the mind for more creative work. Which means Google will make us stupid but creative.” –Peng Hwa Ang, dean of the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; 

“This is a tough one, because I think the truth is a little more in the middle. Most people turn to the Internet to find out information; the question is what sources they’re looking at. I think Google makes a good-faith effort to ensure that reliable sources are those that float to the top, and the future of social search may further that. But too many people believe everything they read online, no matter the source. What sources they’re pointed to will greatly determine the true answer to this question.” —Amy Vernon, open source blogger, Network World; 

“’Lower IQ’ is too much of a cliché. More knowledge should increase our ability to think.” Bob Frankston, computing pioneer, co-founder of Software Arts and co-developer and marketer of VisiCalc, created Lotus Express, ACM Fellow; 

“The idea that ‘no question should go unanswered’ is a reality. Google is not like an intellectual spell checker, it allows everyone to learn specifics quickly and then build on that to advance their opinions and the opinions of humans as a group.” –John Baker, regional digital director for Americas at Iris Worldwide, formerly managing partner at OgilvyInteractive; 

“Search engines have allowed unprecedented access to information. It would be extremely difficult to find this same information without assistance. People that are intelligent learn how to use this tool to their advantage for finding obscure bits of knowledge, enhancing their understanding. Search engines have also opened up worlds of knowledge to the curious. If the curious are searching for something very basic such as a pie recipe, a search engine will give them several options. This might expand their understanding of what makes up a good pie. Google does not make us stupid, it makes it easier for us to be lazy. That is a choice each user makes with the information presented to them.” Elaine Pruis, vice president, client services, Minds + Machines, liaison, Council of Country Code Administrators; 

“I believe that providing people with increased access to relevant, timely, and accurate information will help promote the growth of knowledge in society. It will increase public understanding of different cultures and peoples. It also has the potential to promote interaction and collaboration between people.” Gary Kreps, professor and chair of the department of communication, George Mason University

“The way people make decisions is changing with access to tool such as Google, but this doesn’t translates into smarter or stupider choices. Rather we will make decisions differently, taking into account variables previously unavailable to us, while sidelining factors now considered important.” –Kaizar Campwala, associate editor, NewsTrust and expert on public access to information;

“I agree with neither statement but unfortunately I’m not given the option to disagree with both. I think the nature of human intelligence is constantly in flux – we will become much smarter in some ways thanks to the Internet. Other forms of intelligence that used to be highly valued – and necessary – in the pre-Internet age may atrophy. People living two or three generations ago – especially women – would judge a woman like me to be excessively stupid. There are a number of skillsets and different forms of intelligences that I have never been forced to develop because there has never been a need. Intelligence, it seems to me, is not a fixed thing. It evolves. Judging the intelligence of one generation by the standards of another seems like a waste of time and is really beside the point.” –Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder, Global Voices, visiting fellow, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University, former assistant professor of online journalism, University of Hong Kong, former Open Society Fellow;

“I disagree with both statements. Digital technology won’t affect intelligence, per se, but it may affect our ability (or at least willingness) to focus. I’d worry more about that.” Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and author of “We the Media”; 

“By allowing people to focus on higher forms of cognitive intelligence, like applying knowledge and comparative analysis, rather than focusing on recall or route memorization people will become smarter.” –Tac Anderson, blogger at New Comm Biz, taking a critical look at social media and the future of business; 

“The immediate impact of Google is valuable intellectually because the instantaneity and comprehensiveness of responses to questions is so psychologically gratifying that people should become more and more likely to ask questions and actually seek answers. In the past, many individuals who may have asked lively questions as children ultimately drop the practice because they don’t know how to find answers, or doing so is so costly and/or difficult. Now we can all be childlike, in a sense, and keep on asking. In the longer run, the intellectual value of Google depends on the level of information literacy. Hopefully more and more universities will require all students to take information literacy courses that embed browser searches within a much larger ecology of knowledge searching and production. Ideally, in fact, such courses would become requirements K-12. And of course I’m assuming you’re using ‘Google’ here as a proxy for ‘browser.’” Sandra Braman, professor in the Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and expert on the macro-level effects of new information technologies; 

“’Smarter’ implies broader, wiser, more worldly. By definition, access to the worldwide Web makes us smarter.” –Tobey Dichter, CEO at Generations on Line; 

“This one is easy. It’s just not plausible that access to more information would make people less smart, and clearly more information enables people to make better choices. I don’t know that the Internet will make us smarter, but it will (and already does) put a wealth of information at our fingertips, which should enable us to make better decisions.” –Thomas Lenard, president and senior fellow, Technology Policy Institute, author of many books including “Net Neutrality or Net Neutering: Should Broadband Services Be Regulated?”;

“If average IQs decline in the next decade, it will be because of bad public policy, not technology. As we adapt to a data rich environment – an evolution that no one sensible opposes – Google is helping make the transition possible. Google does not undermine intelligence, it creates more and better opportunities to foster it, provided only that public education is given its proper due (it currently is not).” –Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief, Wired, formerly leader of consumer and media coverage for CNET News.com; 

“I think the Internet and Google enhances human intelligence. Knowing where to find a fact is just as important as knowing the fact.” Brad Adgate, senior vice president and research director at Horizon Media; 

“If you take ‘intelligence’ to mean the ability to integrate and process novel information, access to more information is more likely to stimulate intelligence than hinder it.” –Larry Masinter, principal scientist at Adobe Systems, TAG member at W3C, formerly Internet architecture director at AT&T; 

“We are definitely raising the intelligence on an average world wide bases. However, the push to multitasking and the increasing complexity of coping with modern society is lowering the ability of individuals to deal adequately with complex problems and inhibiting the evolution of collective intelligence systems which could make groups far more intelligent. Applying intelligence to the evolution of society depends more on group communication structures and less on individual intelligence. It is really more the question of increasing the ability of individuals with many different areas of knowledge to be able to communicate better and deal with complex problem solving by groups.” Murray Turoff, professor of computer and information sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology; 

“Google will neither make us smart nor stupid.”Mark Warschauer, professor of informatics, founding director, Digital Learning Lab, University of California-Irvine; 

“Human intelligence is not rated by the extent to which recall is enabled by a particular technology, whether that be scrolls, codexes, books or Web pages. It is the ability to critically use, transform and reflect on the material that is crucially important here and unless digital media literacy is improved then it is likely that people will continue to have a rather shallow understanding of knowledge and what it may mean for society and them. Google in this case will enable people to find quick access to materials, but whether they will be able to dig beyond the first three pages of responses, and will they be able to compare, critique and synthesize the information they find will be a question we need to address in our pedagogy today.” –David M. Berry, author of “Copy, Rip, Burn: Copyleft!” and a lecturer on sociological and philosophical research into technology; 

“So long as neither Monopoly-Minded Corporations or Public-Controlling Governments limit it economically or regulatorily, and so long as access to the Internet – affordable wired or wireless head for reaching every person on this planet – the Internet promises at last Universal Education thus all the mind-to-mind benefits that brings with it. Which means that the prerequisites for the sharing of or application of meaningful ‘human intelligence’ – command of language, mathematics, accumulated (universal or local) abstract or hot-to knowledge, and their ability to input and share those learned skills and knowledge into some communicating-computer device, humankind will then raise the level of shared human intelligence. Humans will still form and perpetuate their groupings (cultural, social, economic, political) based on where they live and how close (dense urban or small community rural) they are to each other and how they ‘communicate’ face to face, by voice, appearance and physical proximity. But they will also form or be a part of ‘Virtual Communities’ – some enduring, some transient.” —David R. Hughes, EFF Internet Pioneer Award winner and advocate for connected communities; 

“To presume that access to information makes one stupid is to presume that we are now, as a lot, more stupid than the population in the days of the penny broadside 225 years ago. Necessity requires the evolution of critical tools that help separate the “true facts” from just plain “facts”, in the same way that editors and journalism ultimately shifted the broadsides to editorial pages. Belief that common people can’t use Google without becoming more stupid invites creation of a chosen elite who make up our minds for us, and an elimination of responsibility for individual actions. Information is the key to democracy, and democracy is by necessity a confusing process, but better than the alternative.” Tom Wolzien, founder and chairman of Wolzien LLC Media & Communications Strategy and formerly senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.;

“Google or any technology itself does not ‘make’ us smart or stupid – we do it has no power, that is a superficial and shallow way to look at human intelligence – people make themselves smarter or stupid in the way to choose to use said technologies. It is time we take responsibility for our intelligence. The potential for using this unprecedented access to not only information, but people, has all the potential to provide the resources to become more intelligent, but ultimately it is the practices we do, share, teach that influence where as a society we move in intelligence. We could still be on the path to Doug Engelbart’s vision of augmenting human intellect, but it is something that happens between us and the machines/information, not something that is done to us.” Alan Levine, vice president, community and chief technology officer, New Media Consortium; 

“Search engines turn up unexpected results, which often lead you to see new connections or possibilities. In my experience, over time this vastly increases the amount of context people about about their world and online information, which changes how you think about topics – usually for the better.” Amy Gahran, contributing writer at eMeter Corporation, senior editor at Oakland Local, co-creator and community manager at Reynolds Journalism Institute; 

“I would prefer ‘none of the above.’ On balance having more information should make for better understanding, for better decisions. But having access to more bad information may only confirm a person in her error. It takes intelligence to separate informational wheat from chaff, and Google used intelligently can assist in that sorting. Used unintelligently, Google will only reinforce error.” Mark Edwards, software innovator, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and senior advisor to the dean of Harvard Divinity School; 

“Actually, my opinion lies between the two alternatives presented. Google has facilitated access to information to a degree we could not have foreseen. But the critical thinking skills needed to sift through masses of data and identify pertinent, comprehensive and reliable information are still sorely lacking.” Reva Basch, self-employed consultant for Aubergine Information Systems (online research expert); active longtime member of The WELL, one of the earliest cyberspace communities; author of many books, including “Researching Online for Dummies”; 

“See my response to Carr in the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/intelligence.” –Jamais Cascio, fellow with the Institute for the Future and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and world-builder-in-chief for OpenTheFuture.com;

“Google and its descendents will allow people to be smarter, but will not make them smarter. These technologies that allow us to focus our attention will certainly become smarter and must do so given the ever increasing mass of digital data. Herbert Simon’s maxim (“it is attention that is in short supply, not information”) will be pressed to the limit. Smart people will need intelligent search tools and with their aid will have their limited attention focused, but so long as the search returns more than one item human agents will have choices to make and alternatives to evaluate. So long as individuals have the incentives and motivation to be the smartest person in the virtual room they will have reason to use human intelligence – supplemented but not replaced by technology – to choose among information offerings.” —Jim Witte, director and professor, Center for Social Science Research, George Mason University; 

“My concern is that for many people searching is replacing, rather than complementing, thinking. We end up with recycled, not original, thoughts.” Paul Mayes, director, Whybin TBWA; 

“Google provides us with opportunities to search for material within no time. That has made knowledge sharing and research extremely easy and inviting for us.” Maliha Kabani, president, International Sustainable Development Resource Centre; 

“More information, more sources, more perspectives, arguments and counter arguments inform us – and by being informed we are better suited to have our world views altered or reinforced. The danger lies in less access, not more. Information systems, such as Google, are another method of enhancing access and that will ultimately prove to benefit our species.” –Brian O’Shaughnessy, head of global communications at Skype; formerly director of global communications, Google, director of corporate communications, VeriSign, director of policy communications, Network Solutions, director of public policy, Internet Alliance;

“The superhuman computing power of 2020 will become fully integrated in the life of most human beings on the planet. The omnipresence of information will be very much a part of living in 2020 as it extends the mind to its limits forming the global consciousness. Content questions and ‘smart everything’ will make most fact gathering functions unnecessary. This saves time for individuals to utilize their brain power for life enhancement and decision-making.” Stephen Steele, professor, sociology and futures studies, Institute for the Future, Anne Arundel Community College; 

“In the short run, new media are often misused, leading to problems. In the long run, as society masters the affordances of new media, they become amplifiers for human capabilities, including intelligence.” Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education, emerging technologies expert;

“Google is making us smarter. By having ready access to so much knowledge at our fingerprints, we can be better informed and make smarter decisions. We are also learning to process and integrate huge bodies of knowledge better. As a college professor, I’m able to bring much more into the classroom.” –Dorothy Denning, distinguished professor at Naval Postgraduate School, former director of the Georgetown Institute for Information, ACM Fellow; 

“I don’t believe Google or the Internet will affect individual human intelligence or make us smarter as individuals. The time for genetic evolution is just too short. However, at the social level we can already see that Google has reduced the transaction cost of finding relevant information. With more information we can make better choices; however, it is a different issue if we do make better choices. Hence, as a society we can most probably make better choices and therefore the society can be (hopefully) called smarter than the preceding societies.” Pekka Nikander, Ericsson visiting senior research scientist, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, chief scientist, Ericsson Research Nomadiclab; 

“Obviously this is a very individualized issue. Many of us will be smarter because of greater exposure to more ideas and the ability to find and share thoughts on important topics. At the same time, for those who don’t care about issues, ideas (or even gossip and trash) won’t be smarter or dumber because the Web gives them access. It’s still all very personal – not just the technology. It’s about opportunity.” Gary Arlen, president, Arlen Communications, founder of The Internet Alliance and member of the board for NTN Buzztime Inc.; 

“People’s use of the Internet will make them smarter – which is different from enhancing human intelligence, something more innate – because of the joint proliferation of more information and more tools to make sense of that information. Current advances in easily available visualization tools (e.g., Google’s trendalyzer) are a positive indicator, and by 2020 there should be progress in information literacy.”Marjorie S. Blumenthal, associate provost, Georgetown University; previously founder and director of the National Academies of Sciences Computer Science and Telecommunications Board; 

“Access to a wide variety of information tends to open people’s minds and make them smarter. There is a film, Freedom Writers, about an English teacher in an LA ghetto school who uses selected literature, and some field trips to get her students thinking out of the box of their gangland lives. They read The Diary of Anne Frank because it was written by a girl who suffered from racism. They took a field trip out of the city. They had dinner at a fancy hotel where the teacher worked weekends in order to obtain a staff discount so that she could show the world of a fancy hotel to the students. Google is like that. Of course smarter people will not necessarily agree on all things, because they still see the world differently based on their different life experiences. Being smart does not mean making the same choices in life, voting for the same party, or liking the same music.” Michael Dillon, network consultant at BT and a career professional in IP networking since 1992, member of BT’s IP Number Policy Advisory Forum; 

“I don’t think it’s all about Google but about having machines doing the things on which we waste the most time such as finding the most accurate information. I wish Google’s ‘I feel lucky’ button would work but in a smart way on which I could make an informed decision, and I wouldn’t like Google to be the only place to search for information. Monopolies are not good for us. We need smarter machines to help people being smarter, too.” Jose Manuel Alonso, eGovernment lead, World Wide Web Consortium

“Historically, human invented many things for dealing information like papers and I believe Google is one of them. Google owes parts of our brains and perceptions, i.e. collect and search information. But to do that, Google should become more wiser to quickly find the objective information like our brain. Anyway, the size for sources of information and searching will be changed, but judging based on information won’t be changed.” Toshiyuki Sashihara, engineer and innovator for NEC Corporation

“Google does reduce research skills for some but as more information and knowledge is made available, more people will learn and also go deeper and broader than in the past. More tools for trusting and verifying information will also make searches and research more intelligent. Students will still have to meet standards set by institutions. Peer groups will still determine standards. Self-motivated persons will continue to be so.” –Jerry Berman, founder and chair of the board of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet public policy organization; president of the Internet Education Foundation 

“If ‘Google’ is a metaphor for a globally accessible archive and mirror of human life (thought, knowledge, behavior, etc.), then I think it’s enhancing human intelligence by making knowledge accessible in a way that it can be built on collaboratively all over the globe with exponentially lower barriers to participation than ever before. Focusing more on Google, itself, though, one downside is that the most immediately accessible search results are the most popular or high-traffic ones, which does not necessarily deliver the most substance or meaning.”Anne Collier, co-chair, Online Safety & Technology Working Group, founder and executive director, Net Family News, Inc., co-director, ConnectSafely.org, co-author, “MySpace Unraveled: A Parent’s Guide to Teen Social Networking”; 

“Internet empowers educated people to use Internet resources as quick access to data, facts and statistics as handbooks do but does not replace education as such because intelligence is not based on amount or variety of information if it is not critically ‘self-processed’ by your brain which happens in the process of learning.” Andris Virtmanis, director of Department of Telecommunications and Post of the Public Utilities Commission of Latvia

“There is no option for contingency! Scenarios always have critical uncertainties, and the critical uncertainty here is whether people will learn and be taught the essential literacies necessary for thriving in the current infosphere: attention, participation, collaboration, crap detection, and network awareness are the ones I’m concentrating on. I have no reason to believe that people will be any less credulous, gullible, lazy, or prejudiced in ten years, and am not optimistic about the rate of change in our education systems, but it is clear to me that people are not going to be smarter without learning the ropes. Did the alphabet and printing make people stupid? Yes – it rendered illiterates as second-class citizens. It had nothing to do with the technology, the medium, or human capacities, and everything to do with learning. Will we learn the best ways to use search and social media and will we help young people learn these literacies? It’s uncertain. Critically uncertain.” Howard Rheingold, visiting lecturer, communication, Stanford University, lecturer, media, University of California Berkeley School of Information, author of many books about technology including “Tools for Thought” and “Smart Mobs”; 

“My legs are certainly getting weaker from driving the car a lot, but I still move faster when using the wheels. Similarly, some areas of my brain will not get as much exercise in the future, but I will act smarter.” Dmitri Varsanofiev, chief technology officer at IP Cores

“The temptation to skim and change channels every few seconds may shorten our attention spans and make us stupid. But search helps us drill down, focus, inquire, and learn. It makes us smarter.” —Peter Suber, fellow, Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, visiting fellow, Yale Law School, open access project director, Public Knowledge, research professor of philosophy, Earlham College; 

“Google has already made us a more fact-based society. Back in the day, what fact was worth a trip to the library? Now we expect to get our facts in 0.3 seconds. The link – and blogs – also taught me the necessity of a new ethic of the correction. When I was a reporter, mistakes were something to be avoided and corrections something to dread. I’ve learned online that corrections enhance credibility and that readers understand that facts are continually uncovered in a process of discovery. But we need to change what and how we teach. It’s memorization that may become the atrophied muscle in the Google age: no longer necessary when discovery and recall of any fact is a search away.” –Jeff Jarvis, author of “What would Google Do?”, associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program and the new business models for news project at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism; 

“Simple vast access to raw information does not enhance intelligence. The challenge is already knowing the source of the information and how reliable the source is, synthesizing data to get a more complete picture of the problem or issue you face, and determining how – if you do – you will behave or respond accordingly. A garbage dump has all the requisites for a gourmet meal, but you need an imaginative and artful chef to make and plate the grub, just as the Internet contains the potential data for enhancing an analytic and informed citizenry. It also contains the potential – and now often actualizes – mob stupidity whipped up by rascals and demagogues.” –Jack Hicks, senior lecturer, department of English, University of California-Davis, a founder of the graduate creative writing program and undergrad creative writing sequence; 

“Intelligence will have more to do with sorting, assessing, and making connections among pieces of information than with knowing it all alone.” Wendy Seltzer, visiting fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, fellow, Silicon Flatirons, University of Colorado Law School; 

“Google makes us different. Whether it impacts the nature or ‘quality’ of human intelligence is debatable. USE of Google, changes our means of reducing uncertainty. First, in terms of ‘latency’ – the time to an (acceptable, accepted) answer – is significantly reduced. Complete reliance on Google’s ‘rankings’ as the basis on which to find the ‘right answer’ makes us manipulated and is stupid behavior. However, the opportunity of identifying multiple answers, nuance is available to us through Google. The ability to identify quickly multiple points of view, to discern fine points in the argument is possibly more available than ever before, and at a much-reduced ‘price’ to the user in terms of time and effort. Short answer: Neither. If one understands the meaning of rank order or primacy in the Google results, and therefore refines searches to be more purposeful in obtaining results, it will enhance our search and can lead to better choice. If one abrogates responsibility to understand what Google is and what it provides, it will result in poorer choice.” –Rich Miller, managing director and principal, Cumulati, director, Truedomain, advisor at CloudSoft, Genetic Finance, AeroDynamic Solutions, VEXTEC and OptionMonster, board of directors, treasurer, Hybrid Vigor Institute; 

“The use of Internet is only changing our way to learn and to process information. It is more encouraging how to think instead of memorizing. Information is available, the added-value will be through how to create new knowledge from available information. It is also encouraging social intelligence and interaction with individuals and then sharing knowledge instead monopolizing it.” Rafik Dammak, CAD Engineer, STMicroelectronics, Tunisia; leader of the Youth Dynamic Coalition of the Internet Governance Forum; 

“By 2020, people’s dependency on the Internet will certainly grow and not only Google, but also many other social networks might have inclusive content among themselves. Being an optimistic, they would serve the knowledge communities better than before, and on the other hand, if one would like to reap extra benefit out of them, no one knows what would that may turn out. Perhaps, there could be another version of open source open content revolution!” Hakikur Rahman, founder-principal, Institute of Computer Management & Science, founder-chairman, Internet Society Bangladesh, executive director, Bangladesh Advanced Education Research and Information Network Foundation; 

“The wider availability of information by means of automatic indexing and searching, as shown by research so far, cannot compensate for the lack of information literacy. Without proper education for the latter and for critical thinking, resources will increasingly be misused and uncreative collage will infect information generation.” Michel J. Menou, independent consultant in ICT policy, visiting professor and associate researcher, School of Library, Archives and Information Services, University College London; 

“We will be able to pull up information much faster, and we’ll be required to remember less on a daily basis. If making informed choices is a part of intelligence, yes, the Internet makes us smarter if we use it correctly. Television, newspapers, pundits, and politicians will continue to try to make us stupider by over-simplifying complex ideas and presenting them as either-or choices and writing attention-grabbing headlines like ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid.’” –Chris Minnick, independent information technology and services professional; 

“While this is a difficult question to answer in terms of ‘human intelligence’ (whatever that is) or IQ, there is little doubt that many important intellectual skills are likely to atrophy as we become more and more dependent upon Internet resources. Reflection and depth may be sacrificed to speed, for example.” –Steven Metalitz, partner, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp; 

“I think that Google’s horror scenario wouldn’t be about making us stupid but information poor. I mean, we’d only know what Google would want us to know.” –Itir Akdogan, Ph.D. candidate and lecturer, University of Helsinki, expertise in ICT in empowering women and girls;

“Some people are more intelligent because they are using the Internet well, and some are made more stupid because they are using it badly and sharing bad information or connecting to mindless or evil activities. It is a tool. It’s like asking if the wheel made us stupid or smart. It does a lot for us, but it also kills a number of people who drive badly. Anyone who actually votes for one side or another of this question is evidence that the Internet is making us stupid.” Ellen Hume, Annenberg Fellow, Center for Media and Communication Studies, Central European University, former research director of the Center for Future Civic Media, MIT, founder of the Center on Media and Society, University of Massachusetts-Boston; 

“Everything in the world is like raw bread dough – it is up to you to decide what you do with it. Eat it raw, you will indigestion. Prepare it well and you can enjoy it. Or you can go further – you can be creative in its application, coming up with new ways of preparing it, cooking it, changing the recipe and in so doing arriving at a variety of new products all from the same original dough. So it is with information – it is the building blocks of knowledge and of the research and creation that leads to new information.” –Rui Correia, information technology consultant, Johannesburg, South Africa; 

“Accessing information has nothing to do with the quality of intelligence.” –Peter Bishop, associate professor of strategic foresight, coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies, University of Houston, Houston, Texas; 

“Suggesting that people will become less able to find the information and knowledge that they need, when they need it (and hence make poorer choices), because of Google (or even the whole spectrum of search engines) is tantamount to saying that public education is a waste of money because only the very few able-minded graduates really absorb what schools and universities have to offer them. It’s an undemocratic and supercilious attitude. While I agree with much of Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur, and its views on blogs and the disappearance of authority, I fear that Carr’s views are unjustly skeptical and merely headline-baiting.” –Frederic Michael Litto, retired professor, School of the Future, University of São Paulo, president of ABED-Brazilian Association for Distance Education, former consultant for distance education projects for the World Bank; 

“It’s not a guarantee that access to more information will make us smarter per se – of course it depends on how we react to it, and what our cultural leaders help us do with it. One of the single-most important advances that Google is bringing to the world is real-time translation services that enable people who otherwise have no common language to communicate. While this service is in its infancy today, as the service improves, it may be possible to help unite the varied peoples of the world through the sharing of knowledge and perspectives that were otherwise restricted to a given language or cultural island. In other cases, such extreme access to information may be overwhelming to some, and still others may only choose to tune in to sources that reinforce their existing views, amplifying their sense of righteousness. Both ends are possible, but information and technology alone won’t determine what happens – other whether Google has been an overall positive force on the world. Instead, the future will be determined by how people effectively harness and make use of this new source of information – and whether they are able to turn it into practical wisdom and informed decisions. I certainly don’t think that Google makes people stupid – but can it increase their proclivity to apathy and laziness? Certainly – as can all machinery.” Chris Messina, open web advocate, Google, board member, OpenID Foundation; 

“The ability to fact check all types of information is creating an environment where people are taking an active role in knowledge creation. Media literacy is expanding to mean the ability to create visual media of all types. Similarly, information literacy is expanding to include an active role for citizens as public debates become increasingly transparent.” Andy Opel, associate professor of communications, Florida State University; 

“The answer is somewhere in the middle and will depend on how people use the Internet. If you think of the Internet as the virtual counterpart to the magazines at the checkout counter (or at a large bookstore or the library!) it will depends on what each person decides to read – could be People or Foreign Affairs. It’s all there. I don’t think that the Internet will have any appreciable impact on human intelligence by 2020.” —Cecelia Rabinowitz, library director and educator at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

“The Internet as a connector will continue to make humans as a group more intelligent and better informed, resulting in better life and social decisions. Better than being able to find an otherwise obscure collectible through eBay, it facilitates ideas being shared by people who may otherwise never meet. Having said that, the Internet will also foster stupidity in some sectors through misinformation, among those who don’t know how to evaluate the goodness of information, and may end up as bad as TV, as a passive source of commercial influence.” Dan Ness, principal analyst, MetaFacts; 

“I don’t think it is Google making us ‘stupid,’ but the lack of evaluating the information resources that Google locates during a search. Users need to keep in mind how all search engines work, and be able to pick through the search results like a miner panning for gold. Over the past few years, I have seen students pass up nuggets for common rocks, and I fear that this will continue as we move to 2020.” Teresa Hartman, head education librarian, University of Nebraska Medical Center

“Google and other search engines are simply a tool. They do not contribute to our intelligence one way or the other. To the extent there is an implication by this question that Google creates laziness of thought, I think not. By that I mean Google does not teach us to think nor does it prevent us from thinking. Google and sources like it provide us with information we are seeking, to which we still need to apply critical analysis as to its validity and usefulness to the project at hand. We might say that Google is a library in which, as in a brick and mortar library, exists information from many sources and viewpoints. Our parents, educational institutions, and other social systems either create people who know how to think or not, not the libraries which provide information.”–J. Dale Debber, CEO and publisher for Providence Publications LLC in California

“The largest influence I have seen on Google and the brain can be more appropriately called ‘memory loss’, not stupidity. As a result I would support a position that Google (and the Internet in general) will develop a contracted past for us. Conversely, as can be seen most elegantly with the development of the cross index, when information is allowed unexpected and undetermined juxtapositions the sum of human intelligence grows.”–Roarke Lynch, director of NetSmartz Workshop, US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

“Google and wider access to information does just that. It provides wider access to information. But the sheer mass of information makes it much more difficult to examine and study this load. It becomes more and more tempting to just see and read at a shallow level rather than take the time to study and understand what has been read. Nicholas Carr’s prediction becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of what happens when we fail to carefully read and understand what we’ve found on the Internet.” –Jerry E. Stephens, research coordinator who preferred not to reveal his workplace

“Access to additional information does not make people ‘smarter.’ However, additional information can enhance and affect choices when considering options and alternatives. Moreover, Google search system is not a static system; it will continually undergo changes between now and the year 2020. Insofar as Tim Berners-Lee semantic Web scheme begins to influence Google search system, information is likely to be even more relevant in terms of choices, options, and alternatives.” James W. Chesbro, distinguished professor and director of the master’s program in digital storytelling in the department of telecommunications at Ball State University

“People are inherently not getting smarter. They simply have more information available to them and still need to have basic skills to process and understand. In many cases faulty assumptions are being made because of people’s tendency to believe the first thing they see without bothering to research in depth.” Pam LeJeune, a participant who shared no further personal information

“Access to more and different perspectives should enhance the knowledge of those who seek knowledge and understanding. The Internet is literally a worldwide book publisher. Each individual, however, will have the responsibility to evaluate the veracity and value of information they find, just as we do offline in the books and articles we read. I view the Internet as a vehicle for democratizing information.” –Robert Hess, senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future, Annenberg School, USC, and president and CEO of TSG (a consulting firm)

“The challenge is that having a lot of information does not make one smarter or wiser. The challenge is discerning accurate and credible information. And further the challenge is how much information can and does a person need to be a positive member of their community. The Internet only exacerbates the situation because of the volume of information.”–Dan Lott, in the ministry at Bayside Church

“I think people still won’t be able to find what they want online, making librarians continue to be relevant; I think that intelligence will change, and not necessarily be good or bad, just different. I think Steven Berlin Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You makes a great case for the new ways our brains work in multimedia environments to piece data together and extrapolate meaning from it.” –Beth Gallaway, library consultant and trainer, Information Goddess Consulting

“The sheer volume of available information will not necessarily make one smarter. Being smart is a function of thinking. For some, the enhanced volume of information easily can replace thinking. Those who access less information, and who think less, throughout history have relegated themselves to the lower rungs of society. Those who access more information, and who think more, rise to the higher rungs. Exponentially, the Internet and Google now make more information available than ever before in mankind’s history. Logic would dictate that with more information available, the smarter society will become. The dictate has proven itself over hundreds of years, if not millennia. There is no doubt Google will make more smarter, as it will make others less than smart. The more apt question is: How big will be the divide?” –Eric James, president of the James Preservation Trust and publisher of Stray Leaves, author and lecturer; 

“I suffer from the Twitter paradox: ‘I read more, yet I read less’ so while I am exposed to a vast collection of thinking I no longer have the time to thoroughly digest and process the information. So this content attention deficit disorder alluded to in the original article suggests that while I may know more facts, tidbits and sound bites they are not necessarily original thinking borne from my own information processing. If less ‘think time’ and the use of Google equates to the distinction between stupid and smart then we will not enhance human intelligence as we’ve historically defined it. On the other hand if spouting obscure facts and opinions at a cocktail party is the definition of smart then I’ve raised the bar (slightly anyway.)” —Anthony Power, vice president of interactive and analytic solutions at Studeo and author of What’s Still Missing from Web 2.0; 

“As an eternal optimist I hope and believe that devices such as the Internet and Google will lead to a smarter, wiser and more robust human, with balanced views grounded in not just learned knowledge but the learned and shared experiences of all users world wide – going from not just regional feedback or ideas but global feedback and ideas.” Cameron Lewis, program manager, Arizona Department of Health Services

“Google is nothing more (and nothing less) than a facilitator of access to information. Google is our Gutenberg press. It is tool that simplifies mass access to facts and ideas. It has always been and will always be the mind that must build upon ideas and analyze facts. Should Google begin to extensively censor or hide content, or draw conclusions about info found on the Internet then we are not only stupid but at risk to be controlled.”Adrienne Shinn, director of digital marketing and communications for OhioHealth, an integrated hospital system

“The Internet has afforded people from all. Socio-economic levels the opportunity to seek out knowledge on any subject of interest to them. This opportunity to exercise human intellect can only improve human intelligence, by either a practical measurement or technical one. The Internet and Google has probably made us lazier, but it certainly hasn’t, nor will it, make us stupider.” –Al Amersdorfer, president and CEO of Automotive Internet Technologies, a provider of Internet marketing solutions for the retail automobile industry

“To be more precise, unthinking use of the Internet, and in particular untutored use of Google, has the ability to make us stupid, but that is not a foregone conclusion. More and more of us experience attention deficit, like Bruce Friedman in the Nicholas Carr article, but that alone does not stop us making good choices provided that the ‘factoids’ of information are sound that we use to make out decisions. The potential for stupidity comes where we rely on Google (or Yahoo, or Bing, or any engine) to provide relevant information in response to poorly constructed queries, frequently one-word queries, and then base decisions or conclusions on those returned items. Since Google now prioritises results based on previous search preferences, users’ sense of what is accurate is reinforced by the results and the order in which they appear. Search is not intrinsically a cause of digital stupidity, but far more effort needs to be put into digital information literacy – a domain where library professionals are already active and where they and other experts must focus their efforts in order to avoid a situation where people are surrounded by information but are unable to tell good from bad.” –Peter Griffiths, independent information specialist and consultant and former president of the UK Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; 

“Humans are differentiated by their conceptual and analytical skills. Like Monkeys, humans learn by combining trial+observation+repetition. Google allows us to learn faster as it takes us to where information is most relevant, reducing the overhead associated with searching, trying and measuring. Google is the most efficient knowledge finder. It reduces the time and cost of searching for information and knowledge, thus allowing time for more searching and learning. The future is about finding a way to combine and transfer our worldwide knowledge more effectively, moving beyond single links of static Web content by creating dynamic catalogs of relevant information and knowledge for learning.” Brian Prascak, chief innovation officer, InReach Commerce Inc.

“My answer falls somewhere between the two choices. More information is not necessarily better information and the idea of information overload is more than a slogan. The Internet is vast and fascinating, but it encourages quick takes and then on to the next piece of information without time for the contemplation necessary to reach conclusions. Also, I am not convinced that most people use the Internet for more than price comparison, game playing and pornography. But for those who seek out the best of the informational and thoughtful Internet, the learning possibilities are excellent. None of this, however, has anything to do with basic intelligence.” Ronni Bennett, founder of timegoesby.net, a blog about aging

“Google, itself, does not make people stupid, nor does Google or other uses of the Internet make people inherently smarter or make better choices. While the Internet provides the opportunity to make better choices, by enabling much more rapid access to a broader range of relevant information and inputs into a given decision, it is up to the decision maker about how to use this information. The danger here is in swapping critical thinking for faith in a technology backed by a strong brand (Google), an all too common occurrence given that most decision making falls in the realm of ‘satisficing.’ If the trend is to place greater faith in technology to quickly deliver the best answer, then the Internet will not enhance intelligence. However, if people can learn to critically analyze the greater volume of information while recognizing technology is not infallible, there is hope for a better tomorrow.” Benjamin Hanna, vice president of marketing for R.H. Donnelly Interactive

“It seems almost obvious that this question depends so much on how you define and measure intelligence. Clearly the nature of what we think is ‘smart’ has undergone a major shift with the advent of computing and the Net, just as it did, over a longer period of time, with the advent of writing and print. So the answer is, neither of the above.” –Robert Gershon, professor of communications at Castleton State College

“Google provides access to information. Like any search engine it allows us to find information that relates to a specific topic. Our challenge is to always remember that Google and other search engines are actually stupid. They only look for the words we type in. It is our responsibility as the ones who are doing the searches to be able to make important judgments about the words we choose to search on, the content that comes up and understand that the first item we see may not be relevant at all. In fact, if we are taking the time as we should, a search engine will allow us to find a wide range of materials that we must have critical thinking skills to discern the searches effectiveness. Unfortunately human behavior being what it is makes us lazy, not stupid. The sense of speed that comes with a search gives us the impression that the faster we are the better – instead of taking the needed time to verify our sources and be sure we know where the information is coming from.” Elaine Young, associate professor, Champlain College; 

“I believe intelligence is purely hereditary. Being smarter or dumber is a choice of one’s notion to improve their understanding of subject matter. Google provides the means to locate answers to questions about any given topic, and therefore, increases our knowledge to some degree. On the other side, however, I don’t know that we dig as deep into a particular subject as often because we are such a rushed and hurried society. We want to grab the information in short amounts, understand as quickly as possible, and move on.”Nick Greene, founder of nickgreene.com

“Being able to find out more things makes people more intellectually curious and therefore better world citizens.” –Harold Medina, president of Medina Associates, a marketing and consulting firm

“The search for knowledge (information) causes the brain to engage higher and higher forms of activity, the scanning activity causes the brain to think quicker, while it will increase knowledge, the possibility of creating environments for analyzing, synthesizing, etc ought to increase knowledge. Now if users can still retain the ability to stay on items rather than fleeting movements, the intelligence ability might even be greater.” Joe Hernandez, retired from the Southern Baptist Missionary Organization

“People’s innate intelligence and internal drive will not change due to the existence of the Internet, however the Internet will change the way they choose to use it. Smart people will find smart ways to use the Internet to expand their knowledge, pushing further to find the information they need through direct search and other interlacing connections. By the same token, the Internet can become a crutch, particularly if using it takes the place of learning fundamentals.” Karen Renzi, co-owner and executive director of marketing and sales at Beyondus Design & Marketing

“Throughout history, and for the most part, access to information has allowed humans to enhance their knowledge of the world in which they live. This trend should continue and, perhaps, actually expand.” R.L. Monroe, retired after 35 years in the US Department of Defense

“It is likely that Google will neither make us smarter nor more stupid. Smart people will profit of the better-organized world of information provided by Google, whereas dumb people will mistake the just-in-time provision of information with knowledge.” –Giovanni Arata, Ph.D., APT Servizi Emilia Romagna

“Historically, the result of the spread of literacy to a mass phenomenon was the rapid decline of the intellectual level of many publications of the time (e.g., the Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure went from highly intellectual scientific publication to a scandal magazine) but as this change continued to spread and became permanent, and particularly as state schools emerged, quality returned. By parallel, we may find initial use of Google appears to make consumers stupid, but as schools begin incorporating appropriate search strategies and information literacy into curricula in response to the emergence of new technologies we may anticipate a corresponding improvement in Google use. Access to information will hopefully decrease the schools’ focus on lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and encourage more focus on critical/higher level thinking. Thus, human intelligence will be improved in the long run.” —Robert Runte, University of Lethbridge; 

“People are losing critical thinking skills. They have knowledge but have lost the art of applying knowledge. Knowledge isn’t power, applied knowledge is.” —Bonita E. Lay, president of Achieve! International, a leadership and organizational development firm

“Google will not make us stupid, but the ability to discern the difference between data and information will be in ever higher demand. Workplaces will place a high value on knowledge workers able to structure an argument based on cogent analysis rather than facts strung together.” –Perry Hewitt, director of digital communications and communications services at Harvard University;

“My world view has certainly been broadened by the quick and easy access to information that Google provides. I’m now sure how access to information could make anyone stupid. However, I am a bit concerned about the polarization of comments posted in response to many of the news articles that I read online. We seem to be losing the Walter Cronkites of news moderation.” Lori Langone, research specialist, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

“By 2020 schools should have changed enough to help encourage a populace of critical thinkers. So, the use of Google or any other Internet search provider should supplement our intelligence not hinder it.” Louis L. Vigliotti, Great Neck Public Schools

“Technology only enables. Google is a tool. It has certainly made it easier for me to find information, and I would hate to live without search engines and access to the information I have today. With it, I may make more informed decisions, such as in choosing a health plan or where I can get the best price for a chainsaw. I certainly have learned things that I wouldn’t have otherwise easily learned without search engines, in combination with Web sites. But while good or bad consequences may arise from decisions that I make, it’s not the technology will turn us into smarter people or dumber people. You can put technology in a classroom, for example, but without a good teacher and curriculum, but I don’t believe that the technology itself is makes a huge difference in how much a kid learns or whether she becomes a more critical thinker. It’s the social aspects of technology that make the difference.” –Pam Heath, principal with Jensen Heath (communications consulting firm), trustee for HistoryLink.org, the first online history encyclopedia created for the Internet

“I just realized that while I clicked on Carr’s article link to better understand the question, I didn’t read it all; rather, I skimmed! But, I skimmed more because of a lack of time I think, and the feeling that he was blathering a bit, than an acquired Internet reading habit. I have taken the time to read entire long articles in the past week when the content was interesting to me. The thing about the Internet is that it allows us to move on instantly once we lose interest. While I’m sure that the Internet has facilitated a shorter attention span to some degree, on balance the accessibility of information is a good thing.” –Jon Faucette, manager of in-house design for The Segal Company, New York

“Paper-based encyclopedias, dictionaries, and libraries didn’t make people less intelligent – why would the repository of information that the Internet has become? Will there be tabloids and Fox News along side serious content like the Economist and the New York Times – of course.” —Heywood Sloane, managing director, Bank Insurance & Securities Association Diversified Services Group, US

“The Internet will not increase nor decrease human intelligence by 2020. It will allow individuals who are capable of using it productively to locate information and hopefully with additional information make more informed choices. But not all will use it productively and many may find that their concentration and ability to evaluate information found on the Internet is diminished rather than enhanced. Google does not make us stupid nor smart. It is how we make use of the technology or any resource that is smart or foolish.” —Loretta Righter, head of reference services, Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library

“People will use the increased access to information in order to make more informed decisions. They will learn to make quick judgment calls based on triangulation of data from several data-points. It will not longer be important to memorize information, it will be important to know where to find it and how to process it in order to make decisions. Tapscott (2008) wrote about the eight traits of NetGeners. These traits will become increasingly obvious as this group ages and takes on more significant societal roles. Additionally, educational systemic change will need to occur in order for schools to keep up with how this group works with others and advanced technology. At some point, the students will become the teachers, unless educators begin to figure out how to work with this group. This will require a tremendous shift in thinking in education.” Diane Penland, academic program director, Walden University, Western Washington University

“Search engines merely provide us access to data, more data than we could possibly hold in our brains. But volume of data is not the same thing as intelligence. Intelligence has more to do with making connections between data, identifying patterns and relationships, and building an understanding about the world based on those patterns. If anything, access to larger sets of data gives our brains more raw material to work with, but it in no way guarantees greater or lesser intelligence in the user. I reluctantly chose option A, though I actually think the real answer is neither. Google itself will make us neither more nor less smart.” Sam McAfee, chief technology officer, RadicalFusion; 

“Google does not provide answers, it provides access to possible answers. One must decide whether the information is valid and in doing this, one is analyzing. As most of my Google searches lead to new questions, I am constantly exploring possibilities and analyzing results. In addition, I have found that if the actual search question is asked in a clever way, the results are even better. So in using Google, I am developing hypotheses and analyzing results.” Megan Crowley, Center for Public Policy & Administration, University of Utah

“Rote memorization is no longer ‘smart.’ Knowing where to find information and putting that information to use is an invaluable skill – perhaps the most valuable skill – moving forward.” —Bill Sheridan, e-communications manager and editor for the Maryland Association of CPAs

“Google may make us forgetful, but being able to access information that before had escaped us or remained at the tip of out tongue will help us get beyond the hurdles to draw from history, philosophers and literature to make decisions that are based in deeper consideration.” Ann Treacy, principal, Treacy Information Services; 

“Google alone will not make us smarter or more stupid. It is the general ‘dumbing down’ of language that is affecting our overall intelligence. Google actually gives users options of small bite/byte sized pieces of information or more elaborate pieces of information. Ultimately, we cannot demonize technology it is up to the individual to improve his/her intelligence beyond the genetic attribution.” —Dianne Rivera, project manager, New Mexico Medical Review Association

“Search will get more precise, more personal and more social enabling us to get answers faster, eliminate a lot of rote learning and facilitating our ability to see and make connections between ideas, data and people.” –Daniel Flamberg, blogger at iMedia Connections and senior vice president of interactive marketing at Juice Pharma Advertising;

“I’m not sure that the answer lies in either of these extremes, but I tend more toward non-enhancement of the human mind. My fear is not that humans will truly be more ‘stupid’ but that we will not use our minds to think very deeply about anything. Quick answers, like quick fixes, are not always long-lasting and I believe that our increasing need for speed in everything will lead us to rely on the superficial, rather than the complexity required for most human endeavor.” –Melanie Kimball, assistant professor, Simmons College

“In my experience, Google has not made us stupid, but it has profoundly affected the way people find and use information. People can find information about medical conditions, products, art, philosophy, etc. As a person who has created subject guides to Web-based content, as well as value-added products using the information I find on the Internet and subscription databases, I am truly amazed at the wealth of information that is available. What is missing from this mass of information is the ability to create useful knowledge that can be applied to real life and work. Yes we can find a lot of market information for different industries by using Google, but we also waste a lot of time with hundreds of directories that use robots to respond to your search terms, and it is much more difficult to find good analysis of the information presented. One of the reasons is that Google is designed for people to find answers to specific questions rather than to analyze ideas and critique them. But isn’t this an issue of critical thinking rather than search technologies?” Christine Hamilton–Pennell, president of Growing Local Economies Inc.;

“We have to remember that the Web is still young, and Google is even younger. We’re still figuring out how to digest and process all of this information. In the short term, Carr’s thesis appears right. People are just looking for answers and not knowledge. But as search gets smarter, and we become more capable using it, we will become smarter and make better choices.” Andrew Burnette, a survey participant who preferred to leave his work identity out of his responses

“As an example, scholar.Google.com makes us much smarter in easily connecting us to original research. Regular Google enables us to explore different hits returned and make more reasoned judgments as to what information may be particular relevant and may change our definition of the problem as we sample hits on the first several pages or returned items. Neither of the answer choices is satisfactory. People with low level intellectual skills and interests are not made that way by using technology designed for dummies. The causal arrow flows in the other direction. Yet those with higher-level cognitive skills will continue to be better able to make use of information as it differentiates yet is more accessible. Again, it is not the information that makes them smarter. They are smarter to begin with and better able to use these talents. This does not enhance human intelligence. That is more genetically determined. The causal arrow flows from existing intelligence to creation of better and more information.” James A. Danowski, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, founder of the Communication and Technology Division of the International Communication Association; 

“The Internet as a whole is essentially a library (though much more diverse and elaborate than any previously existing one), and Google in most of its current manifestations is merely a search aid to locate information. The more information we have for research the more certain we can be in coming to conclusions. Humans need to take responsibility for the rigor they apply to research. So strictly speaking the Internet per se has not make us smarter or stupider but it has provided us a wonderful place to conduct research and Google has provided us a wonderful index to that forum. Responding to the spirit of the question, Google/the Web has made us smarter in so far as we maintain rigor in research.” –Tom McGreevy, independent contractor

“Search will lead to lead to ‘informed intuition,’ adding factual support to the intuitive way people already tend to make most decisions.” –Richard McPherson, president of a charity organization

“As we move closer to the Singularity [turning point at which technology takes over], getting faster access to better data is the natural evolution of intelligence. Nicholas Carr’s definition of intelligence is short-sighted and soon to be proven obsolete.” –Hal Eisen, senior engineering manager at Ask.com; 

“Overall we may lose ground in some traditional measure of intelligence but we will develop new areas of thinking that we don’t currently use or value.” Heather Gardner-Madras, owner of gardner-madras, a strategic-creative business

“While some people may become more limited in their knowledge, others will benefit and will learn how to make the Internet work for them. This isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ situation; there will be changes, no doubt – but those changes will affect different people in different ways.” –Jarice Hanson, professor at Temple University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

“It’s hard to imagine that having access to more information – particularly information that we seek out as opposed to information that is foisted upon us (advertisements for example), could do anything be make us more, not less capable.” –Frank S. Kelly, principal and director of planning and programming, SHW Group, architects, planners, engineers

“Google’s success and expansive reach may assist in helping the average person be lazier or more reliant on a single resource for information, but certainly not stupid. If anything, Google makes it possible for the average user to have adequate understanding of dozens if not hundreds more topics and events than would have previously been possible – whereas homeowners previously may have shied away from DIY projects and called professionals, resources like Google make discovery and education of regular specialized tasks like these possible and even approachable. People can know and do more, thanks to Google and others. As it relates to the furthest standard deviations to the right – those individuals working to expand human intelligence are able to streamline their review of current information, and spend greater efforts on going further. Simply put, Google expands the possible for most of us, simplifies the process for the experts, and makes it easier than it used to be.” —Steve Rozillis, senior digital marketing manager for a major US insurance company

“I’m not sure we’ll actually be smarter as individuals, but some sort of collective intelligence is a possibility. Most of it boils down to network – social networks and technological networks and their ever-growing overlap. We might be able to make better choices, simply because we’re not making them all alone.”Stine Gotved, professor and cybersociologist working with several universities in Denmark and owner of Net:Work;

“The Internet brings the world and all its wonders to everyone with Internet access. It provides the ability to go to places, learn about new things and experience life outside your community that you cannot achieve in books.” Stuart Willoughby, director, USA Service Federal Solutions Division, General Services Administration;

“Google will provide access to information for us to make smarter decisions. This is dependent on Google staying neutral in it’s presentation, which isn’t always the case, especially outside the U.S. Google wields a great deal of power in ranking and has the ability to promote certain thinking over other thinking. We must be vigilant to keep Google honest in its result.” —Michael Nelson, visiting professor of Internet studies at Georgetown University, formerly a director of technology policy with IBM Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission

“I believe the actual answer is both smart and stupid, and that answer is no different than information dissemination has been forever available in one form or another and some people take advantage of that information and others do not. A number of people will use the ‘net to enhance their knowledge and experience to benefit themselves and other through the wealth of knowledge available to them. Many will use it to get by, just finding what they need and will never expand beyond the moment. However, the ultimate answer is the enhancement of human intelligence. The access to detailed information about illnesses, treatments, drugs to treat those illnesses just illustrate the available information that can be had by the masses through the ‘net about any number of subjects. It will make everyone of us more informed, better able to make smart decisions and in the end better people. But unfortunately, at least some of us will never take the time to make better decisions or become better people.” –Michael Burns, co-founder and principal, i5 web works; 

“In the near future, the Internet will continue to contribute to the decline of intelligence. There is simply too much information available and the average Internet user doesn’t have the resources or even know how to sort through it, evaluate sources, reliability, credibility, etc. Partisanship is already so high in the U.S. now that many people seek out information that reinforces their preconceived notions of what is true and condemn information that contradicts those beliefs. I am confident, however, that we will see greater demand for objectivity, accuracy, and credibility in the years to come. New tools will make it easier for the average person to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of information. Political and other events will serve as stark examples of why partisan thinking (especially when it comes to evaluating news) is dangerous. As more Americans become college-educated, partisan thinking will be viewed as unacceptable social behavior.” —Jamie Wilson, writer/journalist and Web application developer

“Nicholas Carr is wrong mostly for being sensational, but also for attributing any causality to the Internet. Stupid people are stupid, and use the Internet as they use TV – for entertainment and to reinforce their stupid opinions. Smart people are smart, and use the Internet to explore and find new information that expands their opinions. Most of us long ago lost the ability (gained only through schooled discipline) to remember things; the Internet may make that easier to live with, but it is not a cause.” —Patrick Schmitz, semantic services architect, University of California Berkeley

“There are numerous types of human intelligence, and this question focuses on IQ alone, which doesn’t necessarily tie into intelligence beyond a certain base level (e.g. IQ=110). Information also does not necessarily translate into knowledge (application). Access to information can lead to better decision-making, or analysis paralysis depending on the user’s ability to synthesize complex information. Most people actually make decisions based on emotions and as a species we tend to accept information that confirms our preferences (confirmation bias). This tendency may be exaggerated by the use of the Internet, where users can trawl the Web until they find enough views to corroborate their own. In addition to this, the Internet creates the tendency to falsely believe that we understand a subject area well, that is, it creates a false sense of expertise. Thus, given the average user’s tendency towards confirmation bias and false sense of expertise, I think the Internet will gradually dumb down the capacity for analysis, and therefore, make us stupider.” Nikhat Rasheed, project manager, researcher and evaluation consultant at XCG Inc.; 

“Consumer decisions will look smarter because they will be made faster and with more information at hand. But the making of major life decisions personally (what should I do with my career?) and collectively (should we got to war?), will continue to be a slow and messy process. IQ changes up or down? Not because products have star ratings, I don’t think.” —John Pearson, senior manager of digital services for Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media

“Google’s service is to provide accurate information efficiently to people. They understand that any deviation from that service will kill them as a business. As a result, people will be smarter. I liken Google’s access to information to the religious reformers who demanded that the Bible be translated into their language.” —Rob Patton, owner of Enter the Net, an internet marketing consultancy

“It will make us smarter, as we will learn to interact with technology at the same time we begin changing the practices we are doing. We will never be the same again, we will grow together, will be part of, will interact, will define lines of competences, of upgrades, of life.” Karina Besprosvan, research director for a Latin American media group

“Google does not contain the power or ability to make us stupid or smart. Google – and the Internet itself – is merely a tool, as neutral as a hammer or saw. It’s what we do with tools that make us smart or stupid. And that brings us back to the classical conundrum of human nature. The Internet makes more good information – the world’s knowledge and even wisdom – available to more people. It also makes more bad information – hatred, error, ridiculous theories – available to more people. In this way, the Internet makes the challenge of critical thinking – always, sadly, in short supply – more important than ever.” Dave Rogers, managing editor, Yahoo! Kids at Yahoo!, principal, UXCentric, Inc.;

“We have moved beyond thinking in terms of the ‘information age’. Information is available at the click of a button – that will not change – and it is shortsighted to imagine that increased access to information will make us stupid. Having said that, it is critical that we are informed users of that information. Development of skills and knowledge in evaluation of information has been and will continue to be a valuable educational goal and essential to our future intellectual development. We will place more value on higher level thinking tasks (i.e. analysis, evaluation, and synthesis) facilitated through ever more complex connections of networks and learning communities.” Kerry Rice, president, TeacherStream, assistant professor, Department of Educational Technology, Boise State University; 

“What is likely to make us stupid is the increasing information overload of information that is not accurate (balloon boy hysteria) or too much information on silly topics (i.e. Tiger Woods). People spend too much time on things that are not important rather than those using Google to research.” —Denise Senecal, research manager for Callahan & Associates

“With increased access to information, we will be able to use our intelligence for more and more higher order thinking, problem solving, analyzing, and so on. This will occur because the simple stuff – access to discrete pieces of information – will be easy, giving us time to concentrate on the higher order aspects.” Jeff Branzburg, consultant with Teaching Matters, Inc.

“I could answer this either way; my choice depends on what I envision people using the Internet for. Example: If they are using it to Google nonsense about celebrities and gossip, it may actually make them seem stupider, although if this is their primary activity on the Internet, the chances are that they are already pretty stupid, so it’s probably moot. If they use it to educate themselves on issues, history, actual events and people of importance, then they will not necessarily become ‘smarter’ but they will enlarge and improve their fund of knowledge that will at least make them seem smarter. I don’t think having access to information can ever make anyone stupider. I don’t think an adult’s IQ can be influenced much either way by reading anything and I would guess that smart people will use the Internet for smart things and stupid people will use it for stupid things in the same way that smart people read literature and stupid people read crap fiction. On the whole, having easy access to more information will make society as a group smarter though.” Sandra Kelly, market research manager for 3M Company

“Human intelligence will not necessarily be improved by more information. Intelligence has to do with capabilities not necessarily the quantity of information made accessible by the Internet. This is not a two-way equation, and so we cannot predict whether more access to information enabled by Google will increase or decrease our IQs. The question we should ask ourselves is: Will the simplicity of access to information provided by Google lead to replacing learning with information gathering?” –Mary Allen, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

“Not only is the Internet an expansion of information for consumption, it is also an expansion of knowledge. It provides immediate access to subject and resources that increase one’s knowledge. Certainly, people can spend time socializing or mindlessly surfing the Web. Even socializing across borders allows for learning about others cultures. I do believe that through the education system students need to be taught the ability to discern and discriminate the data online from useless to valuable data. Ethics of technology needs to be a priority.” –Thomas Creely, associate director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and principal at Creely Consulting, LLC

“If Google makes us stupid, then libraries make us stupid. Access to information has never reduced IQ. It stimulates it. And it has always been up to the individual to filter what they read. Mein Kampf is shelved in every library in the country. It’s nonsense. It’s propaganda. But having it available has not made us stupid. Ditto Google and the nonsense that’s online.” Rich Levin, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Gregory FCA Communications; 

“Smarter? No. Stupid? No. Make more informed decisions? Yes. Better decisions? No. The problem is a shortfall in critical thinking, whether Google or no.” –Bud Levin, program head/psychology, Blue Ridge Community College and vice chairman of the FBI/PFI Futures Working Group

“Every time I read or hear a discussion revolving around how Google will make us stupid, it triggers a line from the movie Forest Gump, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’ It’s about choices, Google is a tool. The tool doesn’t make us anything, it’s how we use the tool that matters. Use the tool to tap the wealth of information on the Internet and learn, or not. That’s the choice.” –David Moskowitz, principal consultant at Productivity Solutions Inc. and lead editor of OS/2 Warp Unleashed is a consultant and editor on new and emerging technology

“People rely too much on the Internet for answers and take less time to learn information so some things that we need to know as recall information rather than information that we can recognize or look up is no longer common knowledge. This includes anything from manners to general spending habits and more. Also, people question less now because they think that when multiple sources have validated the information that it is automatically true. Furthermore people are less apt to press boundaries. Also, especially in my experience, people no longer like to ask why. I link this to the Internet because many people say that the Internet has the answers and so they have no need to try and figure out the answer (or occasionally the solution to their problems) themselves.” –Liz Miller, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

“Embedded in the instructions is the assumption that Google is the Internet. Is it? We fall into oversimplification. Google is a delivery system, the favored starting point for entry into the Internet’s vast Web, but Google is neither teacher nor student. To presume that Google has the power to make people smart or stupid is to over-estimate the influence of an Internet search engine and analytical database on intellectual capacity and psychic development. For the curious and the dogged, Google provides informed choices, limited by naught but one’s determination to follow the branches to the source. For the harried and hurried, Google points to a quick and easy answer to the surface of things – and why not? The Internet as an agent of change in the collective IQ? Ridiculous – and rife with assumptions, as if the IQ testing standard is a valid measure of one’s capacity to navigate the challenges of life.” –Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles, founder and managing editor of corndancer.com, an independent online journal and cyber community with a non-commercial presence on the World Wide Web since July of 2000; writer, activist, and teacher

“For those who have guidance and training in how to search effectively, the Internet will definitely make them smarter and those who have creative tendencies will be more creative. Especially since digital natives’s brains will be adapting in multitasking ways we will see many new kinds of geniuses in our world, coining new concepts and processes in the way Shakespeare coined words we still use today. But for those who, for their own reasons or because of socioeconomic factors, are left out of the loop, the divide will widen and they will either be manipulated by the greedy or need to be rescued by public-service samaritans.” –Bill Trzeciak, librarian, Glendale (CA) Public Library

“I’m not as cynical as Nicholas Carr I believe smart people will take advantage of the Internet in smart ways. But by 2020 the use of the Internet will be completely different. Applications, databases and use of data visualization will enhance the way we learn. Educators will catch on and utilize richness of applications to help with the learning process while still teaching the fundamentals. Wikipedia will be out for lack of careful notation by experts and Encyclopædia Britannica will make a comeback. The days of randomly clicking, linking and going will be behind us.” —Tery Spataro, CEO and founder of Mindarrays Consulting

“Some people will become more ‘smart’ – more aware of the issues and the problems and so these people will be more discerning, more cynical perhaps, less likely to take things on trust. The majority will take the easy way out – they may think they are using Google sensibly, looking at several hits, maybe even ignoring hit #1 (Googlebombs anyone?) – but Google itself manipulates its results. YouTube scores highly – and happens to be owned by Google; Tom Tom’s share price falls when Google announces a similar service (New York Times, Adam Raff, 26/12/09). It is human nature to take the easy route, satisficing [a combination of ‘satisfy’ and ‘suffice,’ this word was invented as a reflection of the fact that people will tend to make choices based on their most important current needs rather than through a rational process] comes into play – and Google just encourages the trend.” John Royce, librarian

“Google (and anything that comes along to replace it) is a double-edged sword. To the reasonably intelligent user, Google can be a tremendous boon by enabling the individual to find out a basic amount of information on a dizzying array of subjects, as the whim hits. But, to the less savvy user, this could become the ‘only’ source of information on a subject, when in fact any Internet search should only be the starting point for thoughtful research and critical thinking on an issue. It is up to society and the individual to ensure that we foster an environment of critical thinking rather than simple rote learning of ‘factoids’ or the Google top-10 hits on any subject would become the ‘facts’ on that subject.” Aspen Aman, a business development manager in the Middle East

“Every time a big shift in technology occurs, lots of people see it as a risk for our intelligence. Before Gutenberg, when a professor at ‘La Sorbonne’, was giving a lecture, all students where listening and were able to repeat the three out of the lecture, word by word. With the invention of printing, they were able to free their minds of memorization, and this gave birth to the ‘Renaissance,’ and huge advances in sciences. The same will be true with Internet and Google. By allowing billions of people to access existing knowledge, this will allow a new ‘Renaissance’ to start and amazing innovations will occur during the coming 10 years.” Louis Naugès, president of Revevol, formerly president at Microcost; 

“Google is a data access tool. Not all of that data is useful or correct. I suspect the amount of misleading data is increasing faster than the amount of correct data. There should also be a distinction made between data and information. Data is meaningless in the absence of an organizing context. That means that different people looking at the same data are likely to come to different conclusions. There is a big difference with what a world-class artist can do with a paint brush as opposed to a monkey. In other words, the value of Google will depend on what the user brings to the game. The value of data is highly dependent on the quality of the question being asked. I seriously doubt latent intelligence levels will significantly change in a 10-year period. However, over a long period of time, I suspect access to ever increasing amounts of non-vetted data will have an overall negative effect. Part of the problem here is not Google, but the fact that a collection of data will keep growing even though some of that data is no longer relevant. That is a general Internet problem that Google should address. I suspect Google will evolve into something else, something better.” Robert Lunn, principal of FocalPoint Analytics and senior researcher for USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, formerly executive director of survey research operations at J.D. Power and Associates;

“In 2020 we will be more closely linked with technology and Google will make us more dependent on solutions to make life easier, be more stupid or not depends on each one of us and common sense that apply to life, stress does not depend on Google.” Martin Latrechina, strategic digital manager, Global Mind; 

“Since a key definition of ‘intelligence’ is the ability to synergize information, that is, to infer an understanding from various bits that are known, then the improved access to such ‘bits’ makes the process easier. Arguably, Google makes memory less vital and therefore more likely to atrophy, but so long as a substitute is available, the process of intelligence would remain the same. Google, representing the whole of the Web, is a pretty good substitutre for memory.” —Mark Richmond, technologist for US District Courts, founding board member of the National Online Media Association (1993)

“Having access to information is useless unless we use our abilities to judge the quality of the information and the quality of the provider. Information is also useless unless we know how to use it. We used to think about stuff. Now we take other’s opinions and make them our own. Rarely do we want to work through a problem, we want someone else to give us the answer or provide a ‘cheat code.’ We want everything now and we aren’t willing to work for the answer.” —Fred Halfpap, a respondent who chose not to share any additional personal information

“Open publication of thoughts, ideas and ‘facts’ will create a blur about the real truth. Facts will become less reliable as they are constantly distorted by people’s opinions. This is why everything on the Internet should be cited, but it is not. There are ways, currently, to get credible information on the Internet, but only a select few, mostly people in research and top-notch educational settings, actually know how to find the information, or even care to find only the best, most reliable information on the Web. Maybe there will be a few different branches of the Web (which is sort of already happening with Google Scholar vs. Google vs. Google squared and such). These branches would allow you to search only trade journals, or only ‘credible’ sources, which is voted on by industry experts, only ‘fluff content’ – the questions that come up at dinner where you just want a quick answer. This would be helpful for the research world, anyway, and for saving the human race from utter stupidity in believing everything we read.” Michelle Ebert, market research analyst for 3M

“Although the nearly-free availability of information from Google is welcome, Google does not provide the means for assessing the quality of that information. Without that step, thinking cannot be improved. Furthermore, large quantities of information do not necessarily mean better-quality thinking. Obsession with obtaining ‘value’ in every transaction, typically measured as quantity, is at odds with improvements in thinking.” Lorenzo Moreno, senior researcher, Mathematica Policy Research, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

“Google is increasing our access to information, and as we increasingly scan large amounts of data as a means of informing ourselves, our ability to process that information is changing. I agree with Nicholas Carr that it is our very sense of self that is changing through our interactions with today’s communication technologies. We increasingly employ the metaphor of the computer to understand how we think, emphasizing speed and efficiency rather than, say, contemplation of what might be worth thinking about. But in my view, this change does not necessarily mean that over time, we will lose our intelligence as human beings. In fact, the question is not whether we are becoming more or less intelligent, but it is this: how is the definition of what it means to be intelligent undergoing change? Today, I think intelligence is defined less by the amount of information stored in our own faulty minds and more in our ability to call up seemingly disparate pieces of information and to synthesize those pieces into worthwhile knowledge that is meaningful within particular settings. Once, a test – such an an IQ test – could be employed to determine how well we stored information in our heads and whether or not we could retrieve it in the particular setting of a quiet controlled setting of a laboratory or classroom to demonstrate our ‘intelligence.’ But today, intelligence is demonstrated in a breathtaking variety of settings, as people make connections that are surprising, innovative, and sometimes game-changing. It’s still important to have a basic store of knowledge, of course, and that’s a subject of great debate in universities around the world. But today, it’s also important to have a sense of how one’s own store of knowledge – including one’s personal life experiences – fits with larger narratives of society. Increasingly, we are aware of the located nature of knowledge and intelligence – and the fact that some forms of intelligence, some ways of processing information, have been valued more than others over time. Thus in higher education today and in journalism, there are great debates about how we might change the ways in which varied intelligences and life experiences are valued and how diverse peoples are empowered to participate in our collective conversations, building our collective intelligence. But there’s an inherent conflict at work that makes me less optimistic than those who think the Internet represents democratization of knowledge and hence of society. People like to maintain the privileges they have. We don’t share easily. We’re generally afraid of change. We envy those who have more than we do. And systems of power and disadvantage have a tendency to reproduce themselves. It’s not really up to the technology alone, then, to determine our level of intelligence, or our human natures and our collective fates. Communication technologies may have changed how we think of ourselves and how we think about intelligence, but they have not removed our basic human needs for food, shelter, clothing, and care. We face inherently human challenges that require not only intelligence, but ways to make that intelligence worthwhile in particular settings, especially in order to address the most pressing needs of those among us. Today, our definition of intelligence has to take into account how knowledge is employed and for what ends. That requires not faster speeds and greater efficiencies, but, I believe, an ever-greater capacity for caring.” Lynn Schofield Clark, associate professor and director, Estlow International Center for Journalism & New Media, University of Denver

“It depends. As of now, virtually all research is behind firewalls erected by publishers, and most information is propagated by the PR departments of universities, corporations, and for-profit publishers/media. This is hardly the ‘everything-is-free’ paradigm. The idea that using the Internet lowers intelligence is somewhere among the birthers, tea baggers, climate change deniers, and learn-how-to-spell-correctly stupidities, and it doesn’t deserve the degree of respect this comment of mine affords it.” Isa Kocher, social Internet user

“The ability to gather data from a very wide range of sources will put a premium on the ability to synthesize data into usable information. This will encourage the development of tools to aid in finding unexpectedly relevant data to add into this synthesis. The breadth of linked data in terms of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity will lead to new knowledge – whether this leads to ‘better choices’ is a highly subjective judgment.”–Chris Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress Inc.; 

“Choosing ‘smarter’ is making the best of a poor, needlessly binary choice. Google and similar uses of the Web will change the way we consider intelligence. It may make some people ‘smarter’ and some people ‘dumber.’ In aggregate we will probably come out slightly smarter. Widespread literacy and the printing press changed the nature and necessity of memory and oral traditions. Search in the Internet is another phase of change. We are becoming less prone to memorize something from a book because that ‘book’ knowledge is more readily retrievable than even a few years ago.” –David Jensen, self-described as an “aging hippie generalist”

“In reality it is somewhere in between. Unfortunately what Google and the Internet will do for some is to reinforce ‘narrowcasting’ of information that reinforces their perspectives. Instead of using the sophisticated search and information tools of 2020 to broaden their perspectives and gain insights on the issues and problems of the time, they will use it to find information that supports their own viewpoint.” Paul Gibler, principal consultant, ConnectingDots; 

“Intelligence is not about information. Intelligence relates to how one processes, then uses information. The mass of information represented by data is relatively neutral except for the fact its growth might overwhelm the processing capacity of even intelligent people.” John Beam, principal at Pumphouse Project, providing services for organizations involved in education justice, human rights and youth development; 

“My son was born in 1983. He thinks he is 2 years behind those who were ‘first’ to be ‘raised on the computer.’ He has never had a teacher whose classroom experience in elementary school or high school included computers. There was no body of knowledge shared by those in pedagogy on the appropriate use of the medium – including search. Now that his generation is moving into the professional workforce, siring children and living daily with electronic search capabilities, that situation will change. I couldn’t encourage my children with any specificity in a medium I didn’t understand. My grandchildren (god willing!) will be blessed with parents with an understanding of the technology and its capabilities. There will be no stupid questions – answers will be available and facts, once universally accessible, will become less important than what is done with them. If everyone has something, the way to win (and humans do want to win) is to use it better.” Susan Hileman, self-described “domestic goddess,” retired

“The Internet allows for the dissemination of knowledge. Knowing a lot of things does not make one intelligent. nd if the things one knows are actually wrong or imprecise, then one is actually ignorant despite having assimilated a lot of information bytes from the Internet. The challenge will be to sift through the so-called information that is being published on the Web. Most search engines do not do a good job of this – at least not yet. And as long as search engines are driven by a business model that demands profits from advertisers who want access to people looking for specific kinds of information, they are unlikely to value providing good information to searchers over providing good ‘demographics’ to their advertisers. Content and information will be driven by advertisers, not by knowledge seekers. This trend will become more pronounced before the Internet and its search engines become a really useful tool for generating real knowledge, wisdom, or critical thinking.”Benjamin Mordechai Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, consultant for General Motors; 

“Google makes it easier for us to find information, that doesn’t necessarily make us lazy and dumb. We may spend less time trying to find the right info, which makes it easier to focus on the innovation part. However, I agree on the concentration argument, to concentrate on a topic over a long period of time is getting harder with social media, and all the info we could dream of on our fingertips.” –Bente Kalsnes, communication advisor at Origo.no and online journalist; 

“Measuring the impact of the Internet on intelligence is a circular argument and not very useful. It is borne of people who insist that technology is by definition negative and is responsible for things like creating attention deficit disorder and social deviance. These arguments are largely unsubstantiated because the research that supports these contentions measure new things with old instruments and have an inherent bias. Measuring the impact of the Internet on productivity or effectiveness is much more meaningful. Think how much Leonardo da Vinci might have accomplished if he had access to information. It wouldn’t have made him smarter or more intelligent, but it would have increased the quantity and breadth of his inventions and his work would have sparked the work of others. As with Leonardo, the key is not what you see, but knowing how to see – the same with the Internet. People need to know not just that information is available, but how to engage in critical thinking and synthesis. A side benefit is that an increased sense of effectiveness in individuals results in more confidence, higher levels of subjective well-being, and greater personal resilience.” —Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, instructor of media psychology at the University of California-Los Angeles Extension; 

“I do not believe that it is the access to information that will make us more intelligent. I suspect it is more important to develop a better process of filtering the information at hand now and in the future. Perhaps, we need to implement greater training in ‘how’ to research via Google similar to what used to be done in library research practices years ago before the Internet.” –Anthony Spina, communication, director of the master of arts program in corporate and organizational communication at Farleigh Dickinson University

“The availability of more information will not make us more intelligent, but at the same time it will not lower the IQ. What Google and the community will need to figure out is how to steer/harvest useful conclusions from the masses of data & information. Stanislaw Lem’s 1999 essay The Megabit Bomb explains that very well, and come 2020 will likely still apply.” –Wojciech Dec, a network consulting engineer within the Edge Engineering Group of Cisco’s Internet Technologies Division; 

“I disagreed with Carr earlier and I disagree now. Where is self-determination? Humans faced a challenge when we didn’t have to engage in hard manual labor; we still struggle with staying healthy. I see no difference between mental and physical health. I work in the field of education and marvel each day at the ways in which students are creating new knowledge from existing facts. The fact that students weekly collaborate on and disagree with friends and colleagues on Wikipedia is a wonderful thing. I see them have to think, justify, defend. Google is the metaphor for all of the Web, and access to enormous amounts of information will help us to become smarter and make better choices. Not for everyone, just as too many Whoppers is not good just because they are available.” –Deborah Pederson, chief Learn & Earn Online Officer, North Carolina Virtual Public School; 

“Services like Google help augment certain facets of human intelligence (at this point mainly memory, though such tools will get ‘smarter’ over time). As such, they do not replace or replicate the core functions that make human intelligence so unique: creative problem solving, ingenuity and so on. Saying Google/Wikipedia/etc makes us stupid is like saying rote memorization is at the center of human intelligence. It is what you do with that information that defines intelligence. If anything, search engines can make decision making more difficult specifically because each one can be informed by a tremendous wealth of information. From health choices to selecting the right digital camera, we’re burdened with knowing every facet of the options without necessarily having the authoritative voice directing us. This can make us “feel” stupider, since we’re overwhelmed by all the information and challenged by differing points of view. That said, I’d rather feel stupid because I know more than because I know less. The challenge for human intellect over the next decade will be to figure out how to manage this wealth of information without it paralyzing our lives. This will be solved in a variety of ways, some through better technology (decision engines, sophisticated digital ‘secretaries,’ improved crowdsourcing), more emphasis on curated information, and through gradually gaining more experience with our life in an information-saturated world.” Darren Krape, new media advisor, U.S. Department of State, web coordinator, World Bank;

“Google won’t make us smart nor stupid. By 2020, the services oriented to manage online statements (phrases, words, a number) will be the key to create conceptual clusters and discern quality information and get rid of noise.” Freddy Linares, Web and business strategy professor, Universidad del Pacifico, director, Interaxión, director, CI Interactive Media, director, The 10Blog Initiative; 

“Google won’t make us more stupid on its own, but the societal shift toward always on wi-fi-based computing will. The death of serious reading and the decline of the newspaper industry are further indicators that we are moving away from a logos-centric culture to an image-based lifestyle. This will naturally result in weakened critical thinking skills, as people adjust to being awash in evocative imagery but required to do little or no thinking. Emotional manipulation will become the highest art of commerce and politics which will all become little more than exaggerated entertainment. Gradually, we will forget what it means to be human.” –Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action

“Because the Internet provides effective real-time access to a wide variety of information, the need to memorize facts and figures, etc., has been significantly reduced. The educational system will eventually respond to this reality and provide training in information access and evaluation, synthesis of existing information to achieve new understanding.” –James Coyle, associate professor of communications, Franciscan University of Steubenville

“While I believe that the Internet provides near-limitless potential for sharing thoughts, ideas, and information, I also know full well that most people don’t use the Internet for much more than chatting with friends, looking up the number of the local pizza place, and general time-wasting. It’s not so much that Google makes us stupid, it’s just making us lazy.” –Cenate Pruitt, graduate student, department of sociology, Georgia State University

“Human technological growth is no longer an event of the millennia – it’s a monthly, perhaps daily occurrence. The last decade saw rise of the hand-held Internet, individuals publishing new works without the need for the mass media bull horn, and acceptance that our economy, our lives, has begun an upheaval unseen since the genesis of the middle class. To denounce the Internet as the death of human intelligence is equivalent to denouncing the written word in favor of oral traditions. The Internet isn’t a crutch for human intelligence – it’s the storehouse of the increasingly quick accumulation of knowledge coupled with a communications platform unrivaled by prior human capacity.” Joey Baker, self-employed

“Human intelligence is dependent on human communication. Social growth has always enhanced and accelerated human intelligence and social growth has always been enhanced and accelerated by growth and acceleration in human communication. Follow the growth and acceleration of human intelligence with the development of accelerated communication technology. The first high-speed Internet? Hard-surface Roman roads.” —Jack Holt, senior strategist for emerging media, Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity, chief of new media operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs; 

“It seems to be a McLuhan vs. Postman question. Will the Internet (and thus Google) make us more stupid? Yes and No. I believe yes in that the proliferation of access to information will both make us stupider by today’s standards because we will not have the knowledge right off the tops of our heads but our definition of knowledge will change I believe to one that is more centered on the ability to find information. As the media ecology changes, so do the terms of the battle.” —Alex Reynolds, communications student

“The article is one of a long line that presents technology as somehow destructive to the essence of humanity (i.e. ‘making us stupid’). Centuries ago, this was phrased as corruption of the soul. The modern way of expressing it is pseudo-neurology – ‘Thanks to our brain’s plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological level.’ It is an exceptional specimen in that it itself references predecessors of this type, having similar objections to writing or the printing press. But the reason it’s part of this survey is that it’s tapping into the fears and anxieties of many people who find technological advancement frightening, for changing beliefs about what machines can and cannot do (‘as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence’). I don’t want to sound blindly optimistic, or be too hard on the piece. There are important points about social values being made. But the cost of getting attention for those points is allying them with a framework that appeals to a very reactionary mindset.”Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner; 

“This is an interesting dichotomy. I tend to agree that access to technology, as a whole, allows individuals to know more about more subjects. That being said, I do think that in some cases Google – and other search engines – allow people an easy way out from either creating original content or doing their own research. I believe that the key is education – if the millennial generation is taught from the start that Google, Wikipedia, ProQuest, and other databases are tools to assist in the research process, and not tools to facilitate plagiarism. There will likely be generational differences here.” Colin Walker, marketing coordinator for the City of Bellevue, Washington

“The Internet allows us far more information than we have ever had in any time in history. We are now exposed to the information of the entire world, rather than just our small circle of contacts, friends, and family. All this information comes in the form of correct information, partially correct information, and incorrect information. We are continually forced to choose which information to accept as correct, as truth, on a daily basis. This process of constant analysis and choice must lead us to greater intellectual dexterity, and, one hopes, greater intelligence in making those choices.” –Alexis A. Chontos, faculty in the online division of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh

“Information is only as valuable as people’s ability to process and make sense of it. Nothing about ease of access to information means that human beings will become lazy in their use of that information. There may be certain tasks, or even decisions, for which people look to the Internet for a fast resolution, but this will enable more time and effort for higher-level thinking, not hinder it.” –Matt Gallivan, senior research analyst, audience insight and research, National Public Radio (US); 

“Information is good. Jefferson wrote to William Jarvis: ‘If we think them (the people) not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.’ (Engraved on Jefferson Memorial). The world will be better informed and Google will continue to make a great contribution to that.” –Robert F. Jones, retired from a US Congressional staff, now a volunteer for Unitarian Universalist denomination in Northern California and a local political action group

“This depends a bit on what you mean by the Internet. There are many stores of information and data that are not widely accessible now. Overall I believe the Internet is filling up with information from ever-expanding sources of content. But the Internet is so poorly organized and finding information takes so much work we aren’t able to obtain information efficiently. Search engines haven’t improved much in a decade. No search engine gives semantic recognition. We still depend on our own knowledge or the knowledge of others to enable us to organize what we find and turn it from raw information into another level of knowledge. In other words, we still depend on human skills to increase knowledge, not computer synthesis. However, overall I think the Internet is a greater sphere of information than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. If we spent even a small part of the time and effort that has gone into social networking on creating tools and interoperable standards for knowledge content we’d be able to make the Internet ‘smarter’ and us likewise. And if you think what we would know if we could communicate across languages and culture the potential is great. But who is going to bridge the chasm between English-based information and the Asian and other cultures coming online in the next decade by, literally, the billions!” –David Collin, retired, formerly director of the American Cancer Society

“Google is greatly interested in advertising revenue and content that they can easily index. This has already resulted in dumber and less useful search results. I’m pretty sure an appropriate analysis would show measurable impact on cognitive performance already (forget 2020).” –Mike Gale, director of decision-support systems, Decision Engineering Pty Ltd; 

“Human intelligence has always been effected by the artifacts we use and the social structures in which we are embedded. The Internet is clearly a transformative technology that is changing the specific requirements we place on our intellect, but not reducing the need for intelligence. As the Internet continues to transition from a content repository to a platform for meaningful interaction and collaborative sensemaking, there will be increasing opportunities to expand our minds.” Derek Hansen, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information at the University of Maryland; 

“In the past decade (2000-2009), scientific and business efforts have mainly been placed in innovating new technologies to better respond to human inputs. In the next decade, research will begin to look at how to enhance and better educate end users so that we develop new intellectual abilities to better respond to what the Internet and other Web technologies have to offer us, and doing so to a fuller extent.” –Clement Chau, vice president at Ponte and Chau Consulting, Inc. and researcher in the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University; 

“To state the obvious first point, either/ or choices don’t get at the complexity of the issue, but faced with no other choices, I would come down on the side of ‘stupid’ although a better word would be ‘lazy.’ Google et al makes us mentally lazy. Easily gleaned facts become misinterpreted as real information. To put it in an equation – 1(a) + 1 (b) + 1(c) = abc. There is no multiplication or division of thought. Even if one believes the various factoids amount to ‘real information’, that doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘real understanding.’ Another either/ or choice – do you want a broad spectrum of knowledge with little depth or a narrow spectrum of knowledge with much greater depth. Since Carr uses a science fiction analogy, I will too. Isaac Asimov wrote a story about a space ship doing intergalactic exploration. On board were physicists, geologists, biologists and one ‘generalist’ – a person who did not have deep understanding of certain critical subjects but had a general understanding of a lot of things, and who could therefore ‘connect the dots’ between the different disciplines. An anecdote – a high school math teacher posed a problem on the board. I answered correctly in less than a minute. She had me come to the board to explain how I came to the answer because she believed (rightfully in some respects) that how I got the answer was as important as the answer itself. I showed a different approach to working out the equation. She rejected my correct answer because I had not worked it out the ‘correct way’ – her way. The point is, we may all get the right answer but some of us will do it through the ‘reality’ of brain power, some of us through the ‘augmented reality’ of Google power. As a final PS to all this, I publish a weekly newsletter on new media. I try to keep it to 1,600 words maximum. I find I lose people after that. Carr’s article ran over 4,200 words, and I skimmed it, at parts, with a promise to read it slowly, and in full, later.” Michael Castenegra, senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism, University of Georgia, and president at Media Strategies and Tactics Inc.

“First time since the Reformation that I’ve heard that too much information will be bad for you. Oh wait, I watched Fahrenheit 451 last night. Will server farms be next?” —Barry Wellman, professor of sociology and Netlab Director, University of Toronto; 

“Difficult to say if the Internet will enhance human intelligence but it will certainly support broader human knowledge. Human beings will have become better at finding, processing and referencing knowledge. The Internet will have many tools where the idea of social intelligence will be leveraged when people require knowledge or information on a subject.” Peter Rawsthorne, learning systems architect and council member, WikiEducator, IT team lead and solutions architect, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia; 

“Google will evolve to a better interactive instrument for human development. Virtuality does not make us stupid; what makes a man stupid is a closed mind.” Jorge Alberto Castaños, specialist in implementation of platforms at Botón Rojo; 

“Nicholas Carr’s perspective does not resonate positively with me. Any change in the fundamental mode of human interaction is met with resistance. This resistance is an effort to maintain a semblance of control and power; a way to preserve whatever current information asymmetry is in place that allows a certain set of people to wield influence and advantage over others purely by application of this broader access to particular data or information. Also, as I view intelligence, the critical danger is not Google or Wikipedia but the growing ease at which people are never exposed to contrary or differing perspectives. Google, Twitter, and the phalanx of other real-time Web services promise to expose us to new horizons of developing perspectives in a more organic an ambiently aware process. Over time, these processes will certainly create a divergence between classic intelligence metrics and the emergent methods that will form. This does not imply that the change will be detrimental it will only be different. Perhaps, it will also make us more aware of the fact that we are not objective factual beings currently. Each of us edits a reality that best fits our own understanding of what we want the world to be as intelligence evolves these tools can at best serve as a revealing mirror against our own created reality.” Ed Matesevac, consultant for State Farm Insurance Companies; 

“First, smart is not the same as intelligent. Smart is information based while intelligence is process based; how one uses the information available to him/her. Google’s ability to give us a vast flow of information has the potential to make us smarter but will have little to no impact on our intelligence.” —Bill Leikam, Leikam Enterprises, LLC; 

“The Internet certainly has the potential to enhance greater understanding of a wide range of issues, as long as users of the Internet realize that, to maximize learning and the exchange of information, they need to explore other educational options as well, from one-on-one (face-to-face) contact, to community-based forums. In short, the Internet has the capacity to encourage multi-faceted ways to learn and process information.” Linda Keegan, social worker

“The Internet certainly has the potential to enhance human intelligence: more information available faster and to more people. The key variable in ensuring this prediction comes true is ensuring people have ‘critical information literacy,’ which includes an understanding of how Google ranks results, how to recognize “good” information sources, and how to process information gleaned from the Web into useful knowledge.” Michael Zimmer, assistant professor of media, culture and communication, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; 

“It’s clear that exposing people to new media stresses our basic cognitive centers, and can have significant impacts, like various studies of older people introduced to flight simulation software. We have no idea, really, what we will see when people have 10,000 hours of exposure to social Web tools: what kind of mastery will emerge?” Stowe Boyd, social networks specialist, analyst, activist, blogger, futurist and researcher; president of Microsyntax.org, a non-profit and director of 301Works.org, an initiative of the Internet Archive;

“Although the speed and depth of acquired information may suggest a reduced capacity for deep reading and deep thought, we can still experience the ‘intellectual vibrations’ from connecting what we add to what we know, even if the source of information is the net. One could argue that listening to one-hour podcasts keeps alive our ability to deeply listen. I believe the way we think is no doubt being altered by the way we consume information, but I also believe that the many benefits that flow from making more informed choices have yet to be revealed.” Sally McIntyre, principal online adviser in Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet; 

“As a species, we’ve been on an arc of ever increasing access to information since we shared the secret of fire (though the arc has wavered along the way, e.g., the burning of the library at Alexandria), and at some point intelligence can be measured in a number of ways (test scores, empathy, quickness of thought, intuitive understanding of a skill) and it’s assured that what we define as intelligence will continue to change. Google helps organize the vast amount of information that we can use. What it can’t replace is experience. If intelligence is determined by our ability satiate curiosity and apply the fruit of research, Google will make us smarter. What it cannot do, however, is make us wise or guide us through the emotional ramifications of our decisions.” –Chad Davis, director of production and project development at the Center for Innovative Media at George Washington University

“More and more people will become smarter as they realize others using the Internet. These people will make wiser choices especially in the uses of power. Formal schooling will break up as the Internet makes it possible for anyone to learn at any speed. This is going to be a bumpy decade but there is no stopping the people who free themselves.”–Nancy Bauer, CEO and editor-in-chief of WomenMatter Inc.; 

“I agree and disagree. I do not think that the Web will enhance human intelligence, but I do believe that people will make better choices, and I think it is possible to hold these two positions simultaneously. People will remain as intelligent as they are now, but being able to browse from a greater range of options and compare and contrast different thinking and positions they will naturally tend to make better choices. This will be primarily driven by the rise in user-generated content, which will start to drown out the messages driven by commercial or political needs, leading to an increase in the overall percentage of ‘better’ choices that are available, i.e. those choices that have no hidden agenda. Google’s position in this, as ever, will be as the facilitator that enables us to connect with relevant content simpler and clearer.” Rich Osborne, Web manager and Web innovation officer, University of Exeter; 

“Google, and similar enablers of access to information on the Web, will not generically make society more stupid or more smart. They will however further the divide between the ‘stupid’ and the ‘smart.’ It will be up to the individual to determine if they want Google to help them become more or less intelligent. Some will choose to use it as a lazy and quick convenience, with the excuse that there is no longer a reason to expend effort on developing their own intelligence. Others will instead choose to use Google as a tool to expedite their ability to improve their own intelligence.” Andrew Stulac, account manager, ISL Web Marketing & Development; 

“The Google effect is likely to splinter in two ways, primarily dependent on whether or not a person has sufficiently learned to think critically. The people who are will become very good researchers and information managers. They understand the importance of filtering information. Those lacking critical thinking skills will suffer from misinformation and accepting search results at face value. This will be a sever detriment to future individual success. For a long time we’ve stressed critical thinking skills at the college and graduate levels, but in the Internet Age we will need to emphasize critical thinking skills much earlier – my guess is middle school grades (5-7), when kids are being fully exposed to the Web as an information and research resource. Critical thinkers will actually learn more with Search and Social Networking, than without. The effect will be opposite with non-critical thinkers, who I think may be worse off in the era.” Paul DiPerna, research director at Foundation for Educational Choice, conducting surveys, polling, Internet/social media projects; 

“Humans make decisions best when faced with a small number of choices, and the sheer volume of information available will tax our decision-making skills to the max. ‘Analysis paralysis’ will become commonplace. Sadly, the end result may be that we are slightly less smart, but new technologies and ways of interacting may help mitigate the problem of information overload.” —Alison Rowland, website developer; 

“The truth is closer to something in-between Google being responsible for lowering or increasing IQ. However, people with access to this data will not just consume it (which alone might lead to lower IQ as mental effort reduced), but would go on to remix and mash up this data to reveal new insights that can be shared and improve the user through the mental exercise.” –Michael Donohoe, web developer, The New York Times; 

“It depends on how you define ‘smart,’ as an individual, or as a collective? I believe that intelligence will be qualitatively different. If judged by, say 1950’s, standards of intelligence, we might look stupid, however our actual actions and understandings in 2020 could be judged as smarter.” Juan Carlos Castro, assistant professor, University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana

“Google makes us smarter because it requires us to think about the information we encounter and make informed judgments based on new information and lived experience, and reflect on it. Google promotes the development of wisdom as opposed to the accretion of data.” –Jason Nolan, assistant professor, Ryerson University, and founding co-editor of the journal Learning Inquiry; 

“An essential component for reading, research, and learning is control of attention. The seductive click and surf temptations of the TV remote control now surface in a reading environment online, and people are developing counter-productive reading habits (see my Google Sites references at https://sites.Google.com/site/sequencingoldandnew/student-context including Maggie Jackson, whose writing preceded Carr’s, and a key article by Emily Yoffe). Essential, they cannot maintain attention as consistently as in the past, a mental habit developed by reading which also strengthens reading comprehension and retention. That is why I believe what you call ‘stupidity’ will continue to grow. Logical thinking requires that sustained attention, too, for consistency in evidence-based conclusions.” Margot Haynes, associate professor in reading and information literacy, Delta College (Michigan, US); 

“People are and will increasingly use accessible information to make informed decisions. As Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a semantic Web is further increased, any decision in life can be quickly and efficiently researched – with crowd sourced information easily accessible with price, quality, review, rating, reliability, opinion and other information easily accessible. Barriers and cost of research and information will continue to vaporize and making informed decisions will become normative.” Robert Cannon, senior counsel for Internet law, Office for Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, Federal Communication Commission, member, Online Safety & Technology Working Group, founder and director, Cybertelecom; 

“Google’s power is not giving people answers; it is teaching us that answers can be found. That is a mentality shift that will have a great impact in the next 10 years as the generation who grew up in the era of authority-based search matures into the social scientists of record. That isn’t stupidity or laziness, it’s about making discovery easier and seeing how much more we can find out with the answers.” Dave Levy, senior account executive and media trend researcher in digital public affairs at Edielman (public relations) 

“Google, and Internet use more broadly, are neither all good or all bad. The article resonated with me as I am old enough to be originally text orientated. Having been schooled the old way through books during pre-personal computer times. I found that after weathering nearly five years at an Internet startup company, I’d lost my ability to read in a deeply contemplative fashion. It is part of my job description to do this and reading ‘regular’ print became increasingly difficult to do as I found myself more immersed in ephemeral screen-based media. I’ve come down on the ‘more stupid’ side of this because I agree with Carr in that we really don’t understand the effects of present day media habits on contemplative thought. Researchers into brain neuro-plasticity, such as Norman Doidge, assert that everything thing that we do rewires the brain. He claims that with media it is tied in part to the constant exercising of the ‘orienting response’ when we shift our attention. I’ve been aware that there are effects and possibly changes in the brain that occur ever since I was a media researcher watching inordinate amounts of television for a living. Now the pervasive nature of devices delivering constant access to media, that transport many of us into, what Linda Stone calls, a state of ‘continuous partial attention,’ bear serious study. Understanding the effects of media on the brain function would be an excellent place to start. I’d go so far as to say that the effects of incessant electronic media exposure on the brain and the possible resulting changes in social behavior are potentially a serious public health issue. A simple and much cited example is that people are injuring themselves through inattention while operating vehicles but I believe it may go much further than that. People may be losing the ability to deal with complex contemplative thinking that requires extended focused attention. We need to know what the implications of electronic media immersion are as most of us, at least the participants here, would be hard-pressed to live without Google. The access to any media, anytime anywhere is only going to intensify between now and 2020.” Sam Punnett, president, FAD Research Inc., analyst, Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund; 

“Carr’s article was a smart way to get attention with a stupid idea, but at least it made us think.” Ross Mayfield, chairman, president and co-founder, Socialtext, advisory board member at SlideShare, Buzzlogic, Inc., Dabble, Plazes, Dandelife and Eventful; 

“As with food, people will learn about what makes a good information diet, and what good habits look like. Google is a supermarket. Supermarkets don’t make people fat. Access to information is not the issue, it’s the consumption model. What you retain. What’s toxic. What’s nutritious. What should go out as waste.” —JP Rangaswami, chief scientist, British Telecommunications; 

“Google will present problems with channeling searches as it does now. By 2020 more persons will have more experience with the Internet and this includes more persons with five or more years of online experience. Those with this level of experience will make better online choices and in effect be informed consumers of the Internet, which is after all something one buys and pays a fee directly or indirectly to use. So with more consumers in 2020 a search engine will not affect intelligence as if it ever could. If there are any issues such as effects on intelligence schools in both the public and private sector will take up the call to educate citizens about stupid effect and this will counteract any possible effects. Lastly stupid is a hate word. It is most often used to describe a person and that person is thus insulted. It is kin to bullying. In 2020 more persons will be sensitive to such expressions in the research community, unlike Pew Internet today.” Peter Timusk, webmaster and Internet researcher

“Convenient, accurate information access & retrieval is helpful, not harmful. Human society has enjoyed and benefited from a long history of information access and retrieval technologies starting with storytelling and the written word. Plato said (I’m assuming he wasn’t the one who actually wrote it down) that writing destroys memory and that texts are ‘inherently contumacious.’ Yet the only reason we know Plato existed in the first place is because someone cared to write about him. Saying Google will enhance human intelligence is a stretch, but improvements to information retrieval and information access will allow people to recover time that would otherwise be invested in research, manually winnowing chaff from a result set.” —Sean Dreillinger, independent consultant

“Google does not equal ‘the Internet.’ Therefore, perhaps instead of using Google as an example of reliance on a service to organize the Internet on your behalf, it might be better to focus on what would enhance the evolution of human intelligence. The biggest impact global human intelligence would be improvement in nutrition and health care for the huge number of people living in clearly substandard conditions. If we now focus on tools to organize information to enhance the evolution of the human intellect, then education would be the next biggest impact. After nutrition, health care and education, the next biggest impact on the evolution of human intelligence would be widely adopted services to help organize the huge mass of human information, both ancient and real-time, in every known media. Google certainly provides this type of service, as does Bing and even Wolfram Alpha. All of these services will act as ‘intelligence amplification’ tools in the course of the development of individual human intellects as well as artificial (i.e. synthetic) ones.” William Luciw, managing director at Viewpoint West Partners and director at Sezmi Inc., and formerly senior director of products and stand–up philosopher at several other Silicon Valley companies; 

“If ‘intelligence’ is merely a measure of the range and accuracy of facts at our disposal, then the Internet has already made us more intelligent, although it requires a great deal of separating wheat from chaff. But, ‘intelligence,’ as most of us understand the term, also suggests the ability to infer meaning from facts and to be able to accurately predict the implications of combinations of facts. Another way of saying this is that, when we reason, we are susceptible to errors of fact and also errors of process. The Internet will not truly make us more intelligent until it not only supplements our command of facts, which it does now, but also supplements our powers of reasoning, which I believe it will begin to do as we move toward a semantic Web. The threat to our intelligence, if there is one, is that, as the ‘reasoning’ powers of the Internet evolve and we become more reliant on them, our powers of reasoning will atrophy. This seems unlikely because, to the degree the newfound power of the Internet makes otherwise difficult judgments routine, we will turn our own reasoning powers to higher order problems. And that is progress.” –Sean O’Leary, president of MarketLab Inc.; 

“Our tools are part of who we are. Human intelligence today includes access to the Internet, so by definition, Google makes us smarter. It’s like asking whether calculators make us stupid because people can no longer do certain computations in their heads. Whether the Net and Google lead to ‘better choices’ is another question entirely.” —Kevin Werbach, founder of Supernova and assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business, former counsel for new technology policy at the FCC; 

“People are allowed unprecedented access to more information.’ This is key. Smart people will become smarter. Those not of a curious mind will remain as ever. The ability to access such swarms of information via one’s fingertips will allow the curious and the intelligent to discover, and to do so on increased timetables. Access = opportunity. In 2020 we will have adults who began life as Digital Natives. A second generation of Digital Natives will take access to data for granted, and the globe will seem more connected on a native basis.” –Dean Landsman, president of Landsman Communications Group, board member at TeleTruth and participant in project VRM; 

“Will Google make us stupid? What a great question! We’re probably going to have to revise what we mean by intelligence. In the past an intelligent person was someone who could store a great deal of information in their heads and quickly access it. When society needed to solve a complex problem (such as cracking Nazi codes in World War II) we had to group these gifted souls in close physical proximity. The Web removes that need, and provides a massively interconnected storage and retrieval system; intelligent souls in the future will be those who can quickly assess what is relevant and valid, and know how to access and interpret it. Google is merely a tool in that process.” Graham Lovelace, director of Lovelace Consulting Limited

“To say that it is inevitable that the Internet will not enhance human intelligence is like saying that the printing press didn’t do so. The more people to have access to more information can only be good for the human condition. The reaction to media saturation has already created an environment where people tune out information until they need it, and then go find it on sites such as Google. It is a natural shift, from pushing information to pulling information, and it’s a logical result given the mass amount of information available.” –Chris Marriott, VP and global managing director, Acxiom Corp.; 

“Access to information is not the same as intellect. Intellect is the capacity to absorb, understand, and use information, make abstractions and develop organizational schema for the information at hand. Google merely allows us to gain access to information more quickly.” Mary McFarlane, research behavioral scientist, Centers for Disease Control; 

“Google will not just be an index of static information, but layers of metadata about its validity, timeliness and context – how could that not make us smarter?” —Anthony Townsend, director of technology development and research director at Institute for the Future; 

“The availability of such broad and deep access to information will only make us ‘stupid’ if we let it. The greater potential (and likelihood) is that we rapid access to information will give us the opportunity to analyze and synthesize our knowledge. We can make critical decisions, see patterns, and innovate based on a wider base of knowledge.” –Allison Anderson, manager of learning innovations and technology at Intel Corporation; 

“Google will not make us either smart or stupid, though it will certainly make us more Googley. Google has been at the forefront of efforts to extend the reach of the Internet and make the information it contains more accessible, by anyone, anywhere, at any time (the Nexus One phone was unveiled today, by the way). That movement, which Google exemplifies but does not own, has changed and will change how we perceive the world, and many new ways of seeing will evolve. Some may look ‘smart’ to you, others ‘stupid,’ but that isn’t a very useful way to understand historical change. Smart people will find that better access to information will offer new ways to become smarter, but many smart people (like Nick Carr) will feel they’ve lost something and become more stupid. Stupid people will become more incredibly, thoroughly stupid, but many will get smarter. And people who are neither smart nor stupid will become better, worse, happier, more miserable, sometimes smarter and sometimes stupider, as they always have.” –Walt Dickie, executive vice president of C&R Research

“Google will make us smarter by freeing humans from the current education system where facts are memorized, history is written by the winners and the ‘one size fits all’ policy dominates. In 2020, the sheer amount of data available will fundamentally change our ability to understand history. We will be able to turn a virtual knob to zoom from a high-level summary of a war from the 18th century all the way down to reading letters from a solider in that war to his wife writing about conditions. People will begin to be able to tap into the sheer amount of information available to draw their own conclusions on even the most obscure of events that would have formerly been known only to the most dedicated of researchers.” Davis Fields, product manager, Nokia;

“Basic human nature dictates the majority of humans will take the easiest path to obtain their wants. Human use of the Internet will obviate many mental tasks that contribute to constructive problem-solving skills. Only those people with deliberate intent to hone their skills will improve their intelligence. For reference, look what has happened to Americans with weight control problems over the past 20 years as cheap food has become more abundant.” –A. Nelius, self-described as an electronic hardware engineer for a large government contractor

“Nicholas Carr was indeed wrong: Google is not making us stupid. But neither it is making us ‘smart.’ Human intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, seems to improve significantly every generation. (I could Google the source for this :) but I’ll leave that to others). So I’m smarter than my parents and my kids will be smarter than I am. Theorists believe this is partly due to overall technological innovation of our society and not just ICT innovations. Now what about the Internet and human intelligence? Google and other applications and services may remove the need earlier generations had to organize information. Google and other services will get ‘smarter’ at answering queries put to it in any form or language. But as humans find it less important to either formulate a good question or remember how to organize information, we may lose a lot of the learning that happens in doing those kind of cognitive tasks. I’m not sure if that will make us less or more intelligent but it will make us different.” David Akin, national affairs correspondent, Canwest News Service, 

“As I originally wrote in the Nov-Dec 2009 issue of The Futurist: If one defines – or partially defines – IQ as literary intelligence, the ability to sit with a piece of textual material and analyze it for complex meaning and retain derived knowledge, then we are indeed in trouble. Literary culture is in trouble. The greatest danger to the written word is not the image; it is the so-called ‘Information Age’ itself. Consider, first, the unprecedented challenges facing traditional literacy in today’s Information Age. The United States spends billions of dollars a year trying to teach children how to read and fails often. Yet, mysteriously, declining literacy and functional nonliteracy have yet to affect technological innovation in any obvious way. New discoveries in science and technology are announced every hour; new and ever-more complicated products hit store shelves (or virtual store shelves) all the time. Similarly, human creation of information – in the form of data – has followed a fairly predictable trend line for many decades, moving sharply upward with the advent of the integrated circuit in the mid-twentieth century. The world population is on track to produce about 988 billion gigabytes of data per year by 2010. We are spending less time reading books, but the amount of pure information that we produce as a civilization continues to expand exponentially. That these trends are linked, that the rise of the latter is causing the decline of the former, is not impossible. Information Age boosters such as Steven Johnson (Everything Bad is Good for You), Don Tapscott (Grown Up Digital), and Henry Jenkins (Convergence Culture) argue that information technology is creating a smarter, more technologically savvy public. These authors point out that the written word is flourishing in today’s Information Era. But the Internet of 2009 may represent a brilliant but transitory Golden Age. True, the Web today allows millions of already well-read scholars to connect to one another and work more effectively. The Internet’s chaotic and varied digital culture is very much a product of the fact that people who came by their reading, thinking, and research skills during the middle of the last century are now listening, arguing, debating, and learning as never before. One could draw reassurance from today’s vibrant Web culture if the general surfing public, which is becoming more at home in this new medium, displayed a growing propensity for literate, critical thought. But take a careful look at the many blogs, post comments, Facebook pages, and online conversations that characterize today’s Web 2.0 environment. One need not have a degree in communications (or anthropology) to see that the back-and-forth communication that typifies the Internet is only nominally text-based. Some of today’s Web content is indeed innovative and compelling in its use of language, but none of it shares any real commonality with traditionally published, edited, and researched printed material. This type of content generation, this method of “writing,” is not only subliterate, it may actually undermine the literary impulse. As early as 1984, the late linguist Walter Ong observed that teletype writing displayed speech patterns more common to ancient aural cultures than to print cultures (a fact well documented by Alex Wright in his book Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages). The tone and character of the electronic communication, he observed, was also significantly different from that of printed material. It was more conversational, more adolescent, and very little of it conformed to basic rules of syntax and grammar. Ong argued compellingly that the two modes of writing are fundamentally different. Hours spent texting and e-mailing, according to this view, do not translate into improved writing or reading skills. New evidence bares this out. A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that text-messaging use among teenagers in Ireland was having a highly negative effect on their writing and reading skills.” Patrick Tucker, director of communications, The World Future Society, senior editor, The Futurist magazine; 

“Google won’t make us smart or stupid – rather, it (and engines like it) will give us access to a wider array of information, context, and trivia than we’ve ever had before. How we decide to use that information is then up to us.” Dave Sifry, founder, Offbeat Guides, founder, Technorati, co-founder, Sputnik, co-founder, Linuxcare, Inc.;

“Humans can be stupid with or without help from search engines.” Tim Marema, vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies; 

“More people will have more informational fuel to do more things. Smart will be about context and insight, not about memorizing information.” Mark Surman, executive director, Mozilla Foundation; 

“Google will make us smarter. But having access to so much information, we will not longer need to focus on retaining details and be freed up to think about bigger ideas. I truly believe our brains are being rewired through using the Internet as much as we do to access information. Our intelligence will evolve to become more adept at contextualizing information and to see bigger patterns emerge from the information which ultimately leads to big ideas.” Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards and co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, filmmaker, director, Moxie Institute; 

“The smartest person who ever existed was probably the one who first tamed fire or made a flint edge for cutting; it is difficult to believe that a technology on our own will force us individually to be smarter. There is more to be said for this idea on an aggregate level, as a species. There is, however, the assumption that we know what intelligence is and that there can be only one kind of it that was continuous throughout human history. For example, the printing didn’t stop financial collapses from occurring – if anything, it might have helped to spread them. So perhaps moral or ethical intelligence can’t be so easily changed simply by a change of technology.” David Pecotic, officer, Australian Broadband Guarantee Policy Section, Australian Broadband Guarantee Branch, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy;

“The change from manuscript to printed book beginning in the 15th century had a similarly profound effect on how we read. Before that change book titles didn’t exist. Neither did page numbers, chapters, or indexes. Most “books” were bundles of pages with some text copied from the “original” mixed with commentary and unrelated stuff. Talk about slow reading. So yes, the change from printed text to text on screen has an effect on how we read, but the author happily forgets how much can be gleaned from a collection of links as compared to how little can be learned from reading most books cover to cover.” Charlie Breindahl, webmaster and lecturer, Danish Centre for Design Research; 

“Nicholas Carr is right that the Internet will likely play a part in the evolution of human intelligence. His excellent article points out that all information technologies – from writing to the printing press to Nietzsche’s typewriter – have molded the way we think and communicate. I believe that simply having access to more information will not necessarily make us any smarter, nor will it make us stupid. It will, however, change the way we read, think and learn – and it will likely change the structure of our brains in the process. Our job is to make good use of this new technology, just as we did with the alphabet, books, typewriters, radio and TV. We need to heed the warnings of thoughtful people like Nicholas Carr as we embark on this journey toward our new selves. Rather than abandoning deep reading in favor of on-line skimming, we can choose to use each when appropriate. I use Google and build Web sites AND I still relish the experience of being lost in a good book. The Internet is not the cause, but a conspirator in a change of attitude infecting modern society. Because of advanced communication technologies, we are no longer willing to be out of touch. We’ve become like outlaws sleeping with one eye open. I believe this attitude will change as the value and thrill of deep concentration become appreciated once again. I, for one, have never lost my desire to concentrate fully on one thing – be it reading, writing, playing music or a simple game with my children. Google isn’t the enemy of wisdom. The illusion of multi-tasking is.” —Peter Van Ness, founder and president of Legal Music, LLC, producer of gimmesound.com; 

“Google’s culture respects, honors and promotes education, discovery, research, efficiency and knowledge, while leveraging a business model that exploits the posing of a question (search –> results + ads). By 2020 Google’s search and voice algorithms will be so highly tuned and leverage the vast knowledge and expertise of humans and our history, that we will view Google as a trusted decision-support agent (like the vision of Eliza in early AI days) to help us with nearly all our information-related tasks. Such an agent will allow humans to be tenfold more efficient in problem-solving. Google will also deliver entirely new collaborative visualization decision-making tools to enable & support higher-level thinking among the masses. Google will unveil platforms to help solve the world’s problems based on such tools, so that people will form online groups to solve societal, R&D, environmental, organization, business, academic, policy, etc. problems.” Steven G. Kukla, product planner

“By it’s very success of making information easy to find, Google makes us less intelligent by making us rely less on our brainpower – we use less analytical skills, less reliance on memory and in the end, and take intellectual shortcuts that result in us exercising our brainpower less.” Steve Ridder, enterprise architect, Cisco; 

“Google at the moment is sitting on one huge pile of data. Having this data indexed means that someone has to put in the right keyword to get to that data. You still need that layer of asking the right question. At the moment I don’t think that layer is built-in any technology. If that layer is done, then yes, over an extended period of time, we will get dumbified. By Google or by anyone else, only time will tell.” Prasad Ajinkya, senior associate, Illumine Knowledge Resources Pvt. Ltd. and Career Knowledge Resources Pvt. Ltd.; 

“This question is not about Google. In reality it is about the next company that comes along. The Internet along with a mobile society will enable us to access large quantities of connected information. This will enable society to determine how to use this information in ways that we cannot today. The Internet is full of information, but lacks knowledge. In 2020 human intelligence will still be the key factor to transform information to knowledge.” Tom Golway, global technology director at Thomson Reuters and former CTO at ReadyForTheNet; 

“Both search and sentiment will be fully deployed by 2020. Even if you are stupid, systems can keep you from being a blubbering idiot. Whether you choose to or not will still be your choice and for that, we can’t help you!” —R. Ray Wang, partner in The Altimeter Group, blogger on enterprise strategy; 

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