Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, May 29, 2021

A while back, I noted that the ubiquity of mobile phones and other always-at-hand devices is eliminating the need to memorize phone numbers and other contact information.

The logical consequence of that is the erosion of the average person’s memory skills (maybe).

Freeing up brainspace by neglecting to commit some mundane data to memory is nothing new; it’s an evolving process. I seem to recall some anecdote about Albert Einstein that addresses this:

Einstein was speaking with someone he’d just met, and when the time came to part, the new acquaintance asked for Einstein’s phone number. The world’s biggest genius got up, went for the phone book, and looked up his own home phone number.

The other party was a bit stunned, and asked: “Dr. Einstein, you don’t know your telephone number?”

Einstein replied, “I don’t bother memorizing things I can easily look up.”

The point being, if one of history’s most brilliant minds didn’t think it was worthwhile to commit such things into the memory banks, then why should you?

Looking at it in a larger sense, I think this outsourcing of particular bits of personal data will lead to the strengthening of other mental capabilities. Nature abhors a vacuum, after all; if that section of the brain formerly occupied with massive memory storage is deprived of that task, it’ll just find something else to do. Moving from hunter/gatherer, to agrarian, to industrial societies, the resultant easing of tasks that used to occupy huge chunks of time opened the door to innovations. This could be the next step in that progression.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 03:07:51 PM
Category: Tech, Science | Permalink |

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