Brain, Mind and Internet: A Deep History and Future by David J. Staley (auth.)

By David J. Staley (auth.)

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Dehaene notes that, despite their seeming variety and diversity, all of the writing systems humans have developed are morphologically very similar. He notes, for example, that the signs of written systems, from the alphabet to Chinese symbols, are very similar in size, in the kinds of stroke marks used to create each symbol, and so on. 14 It strikes me that this has important implications for how we might understand the future evolution of the Internet. While we might fuss over the Internet’s impact on our brains and fret about how it is uncomfortably rewiring them, we might pause to consider how our own cognitive architecture is setting limits on how the Internet is and will develop.

More specifically, is the mind still the mind without its external symbolic storage system? Carr reveals much when he makes the following observations: Language itself is not a technology. It’s native to our species. Our brains and bodies have evolved to speak and hear the words. A child learns to talk without instruction as a fledgling bird learns to fly. Because reading and writing have become so central to our identity and culture, it’s easy to assume that they, too, are innate talents. But they’re not.

In effect, ‘networked science’ and the ‘new invisible college’ represent efforts to off-load some cognition onto the larger electronic external symbolic storage system. In this case, that system is actual minds, not inert symbols. 0006  Brain, Mind and Internet sufficient data or, given a superabundance of data, we lacked the ability – as individuals – to comb through all of that data to discover meaningful patterns. It would take an army of brains working across the entire corpus to make new discoveries.

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