The ultra-connectivity of our modern society is causing a wholesale shift in the way we retain information in our heads.
Where most of history has been a process of wielding tools to remember things for us (everything from scratches on papyrus to the PC), we’re entering an age where we don’t really have to remember anything. Technology connects us instantly to every piece of information we need to conduct our lives — from the signers of the Declaration of Independence to the date of your anniversary.
But a growing chorus is beginning to ask what this emerging technology is really doing to our on-board memories. In an age where we don’t have to remember anything, will we forget how?
The changes wrought on our memory by technology have already been documented. Last year, researchers at Columbia University studied the effects of Google on human memory. According to their findings, we’re better at remembering where to go to look up information than we are at remembering the information itself. Subjects in the study were also more likely to forget some factoid if they knew they could search for it later online.