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Computers are making us stupid

So stupid that people now reckon PCs are our friends

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Computers in all their various guises are making us stupid because we're relying on them too much instead of giving our own brain cells a workout. That, at least, is what researchers from a Japanese university are saying.

Of course, the headline-grabbing conclusion is drawn from exceedingly flimsy evidence - out of 150 people aged 20 to 35, ten are having severe memory problems. But we'll ignore that for the moment because we have some evidence of our own.

Have you noticed for example, friends and workmates asking you for their best friend's phone number because their mobile battery is flat? Have you become so unable to remember dates (all in the PC at work, you see) that you are permanently concerned that you may have forgotten something? Etc etc and on and on.

Our Japanese scientists pet theory is that IT can give us information overload and we have subsequently become less able to deal with separating important and unimportant facts. It's not a bad theory, and if you tie this in with TV, it would explain why your mate completely forgot to meet you at the pub last night but can tell you the names of the god-awful children that got through Popstars and what the latest bit of nonsense research has concluded. ;-).

That, however, is not our evidence, merely observation. Our evidence that computers are making us stupid is the large number of articles written recently - and subsequently discussed with all the depth of a paddling pool in Pitcher & Pianos all over the country - on whether computers and robots etc can be our friends (wouldn't it be great if your computer knew how you were feeling?).

No. No. No and no. We despaired last week when Kevin "the loon" Warwick was quoted heavily on a piece about robots as pets. Since then, we have seen another three pieces asking the same stupid questions. Only if computers were turning our minds to mush, would people be trying to forge relationships with them.

The reason there have been so many articles is two-fold. One, the media is increasingly obsessed with itself and so an original idea is quickly written by 20 other souls before another 20 then mock the hype before another 2 or 3 just despair at everyone. Secondly, journalists seem to spend their entire lives in front of a computer these days and being largely dysfunctional creatures, are now trying to make it love them.

Anyway, the latest piece has cropped up on the BBC, and reckons that computer glitches are "more vexing than the break up of a relationship". So enter The Emotion Mouse, which "gauges a user's mood by monitoring skin temperature, heart rate and, charmingly, sweat". The computer will then react is some way that will make us get on better and eventually love it like one of our own. Oh, and that ridiculous Kismet robot from MIT also gets a mention.

Do we actually want touchy-feely computers? What if we have an argument? What if it doesn't like my hair?

SNAP OUT OF IT. All of you. Computers are useful tools but they have nothing on human interaction. Talk to people! Or better still, just make sarcastic comments at them. We are becoming more stupid than computers because they can't reason or think, but have somehow persuaded humans to behave like them. ®

Related Link

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