What will the Internet look like in 2020? What will mankind look like after another decade of always-on information saturation? Big questions, for sure, but Pew’s never one to shy away from a challenge.
The research group polled some of the smartest minds in tech, who overwhelmingly expressed faith that the Internet will improve human intelligence, not erase it, as some have worried. But many also worried about the erosion of the end-to-end freedom that has characterized the Net since its inception. CIO Update takes a look.
Does Google make you stupid?
That provocative question splashed across the cover of the Atlantic Monthly last summer, headlining a story penned by controversial technology analyst and pundit Nicholas Carr, who argued that the climate of instant information and supreme distraction that permeates the Web has chipped away at the more focused, intellectual pursuits like reading a book.
Fast forward to today, and some of the leaders of the industry would beg to differ. A new poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project canvassing predictions for the Internet in 2020 found that 76 percent of respondents said that increasing usage of the Internet (and presumably Google) will help people make better choices, ultimately enhancing human intelligence.
Pew surveyed nearly 900 Internet experts, scholars and business leaders for its Future of the Internet poll, which it conducted in partnership with Elon University. Pew Research Director Lee Rainie is scheduled to present the findings of the survey at a conference today in San Diego.
The survey organized its questions in what it called “tension pairs,” asking participants to cast their vote for one side of a binary query. So, on the intelligence issue, for instance, respondents explained why they agreed with the assertion:
“By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information, they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”