The last 20 years have provided much more access to information in the form of the internet and managing that information growth was the unavoidable genie who finds what we are looking for, who is the search engine platform named Google.
One could argue that Google is making us stupid by posing as an intelligence that is surfing in the sea of the generations of recorded human intelligence on the internet, and makes any single human feel that his intelligence is negligible infront of this behemoth. But I’d like to differ by pointing to the fact that google might be making us lazy due to the convenience that offers, but not stupid.
Let us look at google as a company. Since its inception, google search has been used extensively to find information conveniently from the internet. Although other search providers were present, Google made it stand out using it’s proprietary page rank algorithm. Now, searching the internet is their monopoly and they’ve grown to be an umbrella organisation that encompasses gmail, google maps, self driving cars, laptops, a plethora of AI products like homepod, nest, cloud enablers like GCP and now quantum computing and machine learning. Google’s tight integration with their products and attention to detail and customers make them man’s best friend in the 20th century.
I’ll share an experience from my life that made me refer to google as a friend. I used to ask for directions and remember them when I wanted to go to a place I’ve never been to, and the errors caused due to that were frequent. I had to leave home early in that case. But in recent times, due to availability of internet and google maps in the mobile phone, I just search for the location and it is shown on the google maps. This enables me to get to places faster, without errors. Google maps is helping me to be more efficient and not reliant on strangers, rather than making me stupid.
Let’s see another example by comparing the society now to the society in olden times. There was a time when society labelled some women to be witches and lynched them to death in Europe and USA. Similar practices existed all over the world. People fell for these taboos due to ignorance and narrow worldview. We as a society have come far away from that, and one of the reasons for this shift is that people are getting more worldview by visiting the information available in the internet, facilitated by Google. One can check the validity of news by searching on google and the results are available instantly in reputed news channels or articles. Whatever google brings up might not tell you exactly the correct information as google is only an information aggregator and do not post information themselves, but they will point to information that leads to different opinions that makes you aware of the different points of view. Thus the society is being transformed as a whole in terms of awareness and knowledge. This awareness is the opposite of stupidity and thus google is certainly not making us stupid.
There could be some counters to this argument. The term googling has become a common phrase. There is this notion that everything is available in google, which makes us less creative as we search the internet whenever we encounter something that we don’t know. If we want to make something, we search in google and take the design from some website, without putting any original work of our own. Sometimes even for assignments, some of us submit articles directly copied after a google search, just because we have easy access to it. This could be viewed as ways in which human creativity and intelligence is used less and less over time, and people become so reliant that they cannot think on their own. But this is seldom the case. The person using the internet has the free will to search whatever he/she wants. Also, the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented by every generation. Referring to other people’s ideas on the internet will allow us to save precious time, and deliver more quality work by refining the ideas obtained by google search, or building on top of well refined ideas on the internet. This allows us to be far more efficient and even more creative.
From the above paragraphs, we could find reasons of why google doesnot make us stupid. While there could be some counter arguments, I think Google made us much more intelligent species, and the distribution and the rate at which information can be consumed through the platform of google far outweighs any previous methods of sharing information. This enables us to upskill ourselves in our areas of choice and creates immense value and makes us more intelligent. The more I think about Google and its implications, I could find that the topic is too large for any single person to digress and the same point of advantage of google can be a disadvantage for some other people. Afterall, Everything is a matter of perspective.