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Posts Tagged ‘Clive Thompson’

Is Google Wrecking Our Memory?

Clive Thompson is the author of Smarter Than You Think. Full Bio

Is Google Wrecking Our Memory?

Clive Thompson asks, is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts in this excerpt from Smarter Than You Think on Slate. If you’ve ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument (“one-hit father of twerking pop star”—Billy Ray Cyrus!), then you’ve no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away. As even more fiendishly powerful search tools emerge—from IBM’s Jeopardy!-playing Watson to the “predictive search” of Google Now—these worries are, let’s face it, only going to grow.

So what’s going on? Each time we reach for the mouse pad when we space out on the ingredients for a Tom Collins or the capital of Arkansas, are we losing the power to retain knowledge?  More…


Ten Ways Technology is Making Us Smarter

Clive Thompson is the author of Smarter Than You Think. Full Bio

Ten Ways Technology is Making Us Smarter

1. The power of thinking out loud: Before the Internet, people rarely wrote. Now nearly everyone does—and they do it in public, online. We’re “public thinkers,” pouring out our ideas and observations and arguments, about 36 million books worth of prose a day. All this writing sharpens our thought. It produces the “audience effect” (we take our ideas more seriously when we know others will be reading and critiquing them) and the “generation effect” (we’re better able to remember things we write about.)

2. Group-solving big problems: When we think in public, we quickly find people who share our passions—and then we collaborate on projects or problems too big for one person to tackle. That includes silly and fun things (groups of Japanese teenagers subtitling entire English TV series in twenty-four hours) and important ones (players of the Fold.it online game, who solved a decade-old HIV mystery in only three weeks). More…


New Nonfiction: Excerpt from Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson is the author of Smarter Than You Think. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: Excerpt from Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

The Rise of the Centaurs_

Who’s better at chess—computers or humans?

The question has long fascinated observers, perhaps because chess seems like the ultimate display of human thought: the players sit like Rodin’s Thinker, silent, brows furrowed, making lightning-fast calculations. It’s the quintessential cognitive activity, logic as an extreme sport.

So the idea of a machine outplaying a human has always provoked both excitement and dread. In the eighteenth century, Wolfgang von Kempelen caused a stir with his clockwork Mechanical Turk—an automaton that played an eerily good game of chess, even beating Napoleon Bonaparte. The spectacle was so unsettling that onlookers cried out in astonishment when the Turk’s gears first clicked into motion. But the gears, and the machine, were fake; in reality, the automaton was controlled by a chess savant cunningly tucked inside the wooden cabinet. In 1915, a Spanish inventor unveiled a genuine, honest-to-goodness robot that could actually play chess—a simple endgame involving only three pieces, anyway. A writer for Scientific American fretted that the inventor “Would Substitute Machinery for the Human Mind.”  More…


How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer

Clive Thompson is the author of Smarter Than You Think. Full Bio

How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer

Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? Clive Thompson finds the cure in his recent article in Mother Jones.

Joseph Bonicioli mostly uses the same internet you and I do. He pays a service provider a monthly fee to get him online. But to talk to his friends and neighbors in Athens, Greece, he’s also got something much weirder and more interesting: a private, parallel internet. More…


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