What: “Is Google making us stupid?” presentation by Nicholas Carr
When: Monday, 4 p.m.
Where: ATLAS building, Cofrin Auditorium
E ven though Google gives users around the world information about almost everything, Boulder-based author Nicholas Carr is concerned that it might be making us stupid.
The author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated bestseller “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” will discuss how technology impacts how we think at the University of Colorado on Monday.
Carr’s presentation, “Is Google making us stupid,” will begin at 4 p.m. in the Cofrin Auditorium as part of the ATLAS Speaker Series.
Research and personal experience have contributed to Carr’s theories about how social media and technology affect brain function.
“I spent a lot of time online and with gadgets, and they had a lot of benefits but I began realizing that it had deep effect on the way I was thinking,” Carr said. “I was having trouble concentrating without wanting to look at my screen for new messages and to see what interesting things people were posting.”
Monday, Carr will discuss the neuroscience of how we think and the historical effects of earlier technology.
“Up till now, I tended to focus on the benefits of technology, like multitasking and the ability to communicate,” Carr said. “But on other hand, I haven’t been paying much attention to the costs of being perpetually interrupted.”
Continuous multitasking and distractions train the brain to focus on several things at once rather than allowing someone to focus their full attention in one place, Carr said.
Jill Van Matre, associate director of the ATLAS Institute, said the Speaker Series is intended to present various viewpoints about technology, and Carr’s ideas will give the audience something new to think about.
“It’s important that CU not stay in bubble and continue interacting with experts from around the country and the world,” Van Matre said. “Particularly with technology, we want to make sure we understand what the top researchers and practitioners are saying and what the newest things in industry are.”
Despite his concerns about how technology impacts thinking processes, Carr said he’s not asking people to drop technology altogether, just turn it off for the occasional break.
“It’s not that the internet is bad, it just alters the balance of how we think,” Carr said. “We have all that speedy intake of information but nothing slowing us down to read book or even watch TV without doing other things.”
By setting technology aside and focusing on one activity at a time, Carr said people can retrain their brains to think more deeply about things, which is necessary for relationship building or students taking tests.
“It’s important to maintain a balance in the different ways you use your mind,” Carr said. “Basically, you use it or lose it.”