We have seen the future and it has turned our brains into couch potatoes.
The British author Aldous Huxley postulated in his classic novel "Brave New World" that, in the future, people wouldn’t be controlled by inflicting pain but rather by “inflicting” pleasure. And some believe that our phones are doing just that.
“I think they do make us dumber in certain ways,” said UNC-Greensboro student Davis Barnhardt. “But you're still converting that brain power to other things.”
That’s certainly the hope, says High Point University professor Jim Trammell.
“We started experimenting with medicine, we had figured out algebra. We had been fine without electronic communication for millions of years,” Trammell said, pointing out that the phones functions does “allow us to focus on other things.”
And that can be good – after all, legend has it that part of why Albert Einstein took a relatively easy job as a clerk in the US Patent Office was so that he could free his mind to wonder about things like the relativity of time (now there’s some serious stuff).
The students we spoke to say they do, for the most part, use their phones for good.
“It's to expand my knowledge,” Hannah Ferris said. “If I don't know how to do something, I have to look it up so I can learn more.”
But there certainly are exceptions.
“A lot of people who look stuff up on Google, they're just looking up that one little fact and they don't actually read into the whole story,” says fellow student Kelsey Fields.
In the long run, whether these phones really make us smarter depends on us.
“I would say it is a net plus for technology,” says Professor Trammell. “But whether or not it's a net plus for humanity, is a different question.”
Judge for yourself, in this edition of the Buckley Report.