The Tech Effect: Are Computers Making Us Stupid?

By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Technology lets us do things that once seemed like science fiction. From thoughtless navigation to limitless recollection, machines have made nearly every facet of our lives easier. But in doing so, have they also taken away skills that were once second-nature? An expanding argument suggests the internet and general abundance of technology may, in fact, be making us stupid.

The Atlantic‘s Nicholas Carr points out how his mind doesn’t work the way it used to. Reading long articles or books, he says, seems like an impossible feat now; he loses focus after a few pages. The idea of getting information so quickly and easily has seemingly shifted the way his mind works.

Carr notes how Nietzsche observed changes in his writing style with the advent of the typewriter decades ago. “Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts,” he is quoted as writing.

So could our brains again be evolving, so to speak, as a result of our dependence on modern technology? There’s certainly evidence to suggest some kind of change. A scientific study conducted a couple years ago found the ability to remember personal information — anything from a birthday to a phone number — is significantly lower in younger people who have grown up with cell phones and computers than in members of previous generations.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen the effect firsthand: I used to know the phone number of every friend, relative, and business I called with any level of frequency. Nowadays? Not so much. Outside of a few basics, I’ve inadvertently moved from storing the information in my brain to archiving it in my Outlook Contacts list.

Memory may not be the only function affected, either. An ABC News report out this week suggests the sudden ubiquity of GPS technology may be causing us to lose our senses of direction, as well as our drives to explore unknown terrain.

The question that remains, then, is if there is a true physiological shift as a result of all of this. Is technology actually making us stupid? Are we losing brain functionality with every previously mind-driven task we farm out to a machine?

Science doesn’t have a definite answer yet, but maybe you do. The floor is open to discussion — unless, that is, your short attention span and limited memory capacity have already caused you to drift away.

World’s Largest LED Screen Looks Amazing

Located in the lobby of the brand new Comcast Center in Philadelphia, this Barco video wall is composed of 10 million pixels, runs via six dx-700 led digitizers, seven encore video processors and three matrixpro routers. The screen measures 83.3ft x 25.4ft and has cost a whopping $22 million to design, construct and install. Hmmm, I think I need one of these in my living room! Video after the jump.

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France to adopt “three strikes” law for illegal downloaders

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

You only have to look at the issue of online file sharing to see how different the European Union is.   Some political parties in Scandinavia want to legalise it while German prosecutors think it’s a waste of their time and taxpayers money even prosecuting such “petty offenses”.   But France is taking the extreme opposite approach – President Sarkozy is forcefully pushing through a new law that would ban internet access for up to one year to anyone caught illegally sharing files online.

The “three strikes” law is, as you can imagine, hugely controversial, judging from media reports.   Some newspapers have accused Sarkozy of only supporting this law because his new wife is a singer, therefore he must have a personal financial interest in protecting musical profits.    Needless to say, the music and movie industry are jubilant.   Other companies, such as Google, are most definitely not.

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Firefox 3 about to hit 8 MILLION downloads!

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

According to Mozilla’s official live downloads page, Firefox 3 is about to hit 8 million downloads (at the time of writing this, it was at around 7.9 million and rising VERY fast).   This is in the first 24 hours of its release.

According to the page, this translates to about 5,400 downloads per minute AND RISING.

This is a staggering accomplishment for Mozilla and a remarkable achievement for an internet browser.   Never before has so much demand been there for an internet browser and it obviously goes without saying that Mozilla have their world downloading record that they were after – but was there a record to beat in the first place?

I think Mozilla has set the record for the first time!

Find MORE websites to read with inSuggest

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

A while back, I wrote about the RSS feeds that I use to look for stories.    Well I have now come across another potential source of new online information, albeit a slower, more laborious one.

inSuggest is a service that scans your bookmarks, and based on the sites you have bookmarked, it then suggests other sites that it thinks you might like.

I tried with my account and it returned some pretty interesting results, so it seems to work really well so far.

You might say that you are already overwhelmed with information on the net and you don’t need anymore thrown at you.   If that’s the case then OK, don’t use InSuggest.   But since I’ve just discovered that Firefox 3 is not compatible with the Stumbleupon toolbar, I might need to use InSuggest for the moment to get some story ideas.

Pirating Music, Saving Money

No, we’re not advocating piracy, but it seems that Cosmopolitan magazine is. Now, if you ask me, I think that publishing this was extremely stupid. These guys are going to have all sorts of anti-piracy organizations on their back before they can say “Thirty hot sex tricks to blow your man’s mind – check inside!”.

You would think that such a big media corporation would push anti-piracy practices to their readers out of simple respect for doing the right thing, but noooooo… go ahead girls, swap and copy your CDs, it’ll save more money for those new stilettos.

[ Via [H] ]

Firefox 3: It’s here!

Help the folks from Mozilla set a new world record and download your copy of Firefox 3 today!

Edit: Hmmm, it looks like Mozilla’s servers are getting hit really hard right now because all popular Firefox download locations are currently down. If you can’t get your copy at the moment, make sure you try a bit later. You do want to help break that world record now, do you?