Throughout the text Carr looks into the developing relationship between people and technology. He discusses the way that simple changes in writing and reading have impacted people and their cognitive capabilities. He considers that writing things down helped memory and critical thinking while technology like the computer and the internet have become a replacement for memory and shortened attention spans. While previous technology was an extension of ourselves, in Carr’s opinion the internet has taken place of the self. It is something that we hear often, people would rather text than talk or take a picture than look. Carr takes this a step further by considering not only our developing relationship with the internet but also how it has impacted our views of own minds.
First, the relationship with technology. Carr notes that we build relationships with the things we use, one example being that the brain considers the tools a carpenter uses as part of his hand, an extension of himself. The tools used impact the work produced. People feel that they make connections with the content of books or movies. However, Carr notes something that struck me as odd, the implication that the human is actually inferior to the computer. He quotes several people who essentially say the same thing, that the human brain is not as good as what the internet can provide. There is no question that the internet is a step in technology, but the next step for human kind seems like something out of a terrible Sci-Fi film. The internet has more information, but it is only a human creation, a conglomeration of various opinions.
However, this line between man and machine becomes blurred when interacting with Artificial intelligence. This is not an uncommon theme in modern media. Various shows, such as the Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, explore the ideas of forming intimate relationships with computer programs that imitate human behavior. In 2013 there was a movie about a man falling for an AI that he spoke to on his phone and computer, Her. It is a big jump, but it made me think of Siri. A voice in a phone, something that I find myself yelling at in frustration and referring to as a “her.” In a study that Carr discusses, conducted by Weizenbaum, the computer program ELIZA was so popular because people wanted to give the program human qualities, to pretend that it was human. Carr, taking pessimism a step forward, not only shows technology changing relationships but also replacing relationships and then replacing human nature.