Is the Internet Making Us More Intelligent as a Society?

This week the internet turned 25. Hard to imagine a time without it, huh? But how much is it doing to expand our minds and share knowledge? Is the internet really making us more intelligent?

"The internet makes those giants easier to find" "It is quietly eroding our ability to memorise information"

Will Critchlow, Founder of Distilled

Yes! It was Sir Isaac Newton who said "if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants". The internet makes those giants easier to find and easier to climb. Almost everyone now has access to cutting edge information on every subject imaginable. In addition, those whom we task with pushing forward the boundaries of human knowledge can focus on discovery. Every field of human study contains a combination of hard problems and rote knowledge.

Computers are good at the knowledge part and the open, indexed web frees our greatest minds to focus on the hard problems.

Sarah Kershaw, Analyst at Distilled

No! The internet is quietly eroding our ability to memorise information, which is strongly linked to reasoning ability factors. The ancient greeks memorised The Iliad and The Odyssey because it was the only way to record those stories at that point. Now, with the magic of the internet at our disposal, we can read the poem whenever we choose, but by relying on it always being available, we don’t need to memorise or ‘ingest’ the works, making it less likely we will process it, or put it in context with other data. It is in forming these connections, by forming a relationship between two seemingly disparate facts, that we put our brain to work. The internet renders this process redundant.

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