Internet dependency is overpowering our confidence

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A study conducted by the University of Waterloo determined our unassisted ability to think while excluding technological resources such as the Internet. They tested a group of 96 participants with “general knowledge” questions to determine their confidence in their own thinking.

The results found when participants had access to the web, they were five per cent more likely to say they didn’t know the answer, but also felt like they knew less compared to those participants answering questions without access to the web. Participants with Internet access may not have wanted to admit knowing the answer from fear of being wrong. However they had the Internet to confirm it without the risk of being wrong.

This study highlights problems in the technologically dependent world we live in. Such dependency takes away the trust in our own abilities. Students may have new levels of knowledge accessibility, but the Internet is becoming our operating mind. Technological resources are “thinking” for us. People are no longer accustomed to saying “I don’t know,” because in their hands they carry access to everything there is to know.

Young students are limited with their lack of mental math exercise, preferring to use calculators instead. Historical facts are no longer memorized; they are Googled. Trivia is a game where phones are constantly hidden underneath the table. Even studying for exams with textbooks or required readings that have not been read is as simple as skimming through uploaded summaries.

We are defenseless against the power we hold. Our brains and our computers have merged into one force of thought, one source of intellect, one library of words, images and statistics that keep us trapped in a system with no escape. We are prisoners to immediate information. It is making us lazy and reliant on an outside source rather than our own abilities.

It is important to look at this study in a reflective sense. We must reflect on ourselves and how we react to knowledge. We are becoming less confident in ourselves when we should be using our access to information to learn, not to rely on.

The artificial intelligence we work with daily opens up wider understandings to our world. We may not depend on our minds to do simple mental math, but we can have advanced equations calculated just as as quick, if not quicker. If we are getting dumber, we are simultaneously acquiring more knowledge than ever before. We can forever know the answers to chemistry’s most complex equations without having to memorize a single element on the periodic table. The irony of our dependent knowledge loads on every screen.

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