During his second session at Grenoble Ecole de Management, Bernard Stielger, the famous French philosopher, talked about the digitalisation of the mind. Indeed, there are many advantages to finding and having access to quick and rich information. This phenomenon also shapes our thoughts and our minds. Our brains develop and get used to the information stream we get on the Internet. Certainly, human being’s dependence on the digital tools, and the Internet as a whole, is changing a lot of things such as habits, structures and functions. Even Plato explained in this theories that the technology of writing will destroy the art of remembering. During his speech, Stiegler refers to the cinema industry, and to the well-known article ‘Is Google making us stupid?’, which later became a book: ‘What the Internet is doing to our brains? By Nicolas Carr’. These examples perfectly illustrate the philosopher’s statements. Let’s understand them more in this article.
The power of digital
We all know that the Internet has the superpower to connect everyone, wherever they are in the world. People can communicate and collaborate with each other. That is a great input for the ‘contributive economy’ that was explained in the previous article. Well, this concept is alive thanks to the Internet: it allows us to debate and discuss different ideas, exchange views and opinions. In other words, the existence of this peer to peer space is a new way of having intergenerational relationships across borders.
The digital mutation
Digital transforms industries and reshapes behaviours and habits. That is exactly why we talk about digital transformation. I won’t go into details about the digital transformation of different fields of work. This article will only focus on the mutation of the mind and the brains.
There are two ways of looking at the mutation of our brains. The first, is to think about it as an adaptation to a new environment, which is full of technology and evolution. And the second is about the exteriorisation and interiorisation concepts. Without the exteriorisation technique, the human brain is not really one. In other words, the brain transforms the world through the exteriorisation process, and transforms itself with the interiorisation of that last process.
Allen Buchanan talks about the technical exteriorisation, in his book Better than Human. This phenomenon starts with the bipedalism. This evolution frees the human being’s hands from their locomotion function. Here for instance, we talk about a relationship between the brain and the hand.
Is the Internet responsible for the loss of knowledge?
When we talk about the loss of knowledge, we often refer to Nicolas Carr’s article that then became a book: What is the Internet doing to our brains? People do not question anything anymore, they just Google search for answers. We can also talk about our declining concentration levels. Our minds are not used to skim through text, instead of reading pages and pages, like it might have in the past.
Human Being is the only specie that can adapt to variations. Our brain is not only controlled by biological rules. It can also learn and adapt from artificial organs such as a pen, a paintbrush or computers. The fact that our mind can develop a relationship with external objects is called the expansion of knowledge. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking is a great example of knowledge expansion. He represents the artificalisation of life, the orchestration with machines and technologies.
Digital is transforming knowledge, status, nature and functions. Some believe that technology is making us stupid, because human beings do not challenge their brains anymore. They rely on the information they find on the Internet. The tools that exist today are used to profile internet users and answer their questions and requests even before they are asked. However, others believe that the Internet is a great input to our knowledge: the key is to know how to use digital. In fact, the Internet gave opportunities to many people to learn new things, that they could not have had access to without the Internet.