Smarter Than You Think Clive Thompson Essay

“Powerful and rigorously thought out … Smarter Than You Think is excellent and necessary in its entirety, covering everything from the promise of artificial intelligence to how technology is changing our ambient awareness.”
— Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
 
“[A] lucid and distinctly hopeful study of the ways in which modern tools are changing how we read, think, write, and act.” — The New Yorker
 
“A well-framed celebration of how the digital world will make us bigger, rather than diminish us.”
Kirkus
 
“[A] judicious and insightful book on machine intelligence.” — Walter Isaacson, The New York Times Book Review
 
“[An] entertaining and well-researched celebration of modern communication.” —O Magazine

“We should be grateful to have such a clear-eyed and lucid interpreter of our changing technological culture as Clive Thompson. Smarter Than You Think is an important, insightful book about who we are, and who we are becoming.”
—Joshua Foer, New York Times bestselling author of Moonwalking with Einstein
 
“Almost without noticing it, the Internet has become our intellectual exoskeleton. Rather than just observing this evolution, Clive Thompson takes us to the people, places and technologies driving it, bringing deep reporting, storytelling and analysis to one of the most profound shifts in human history.”
Chris Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Makers, Free, and The Long Tail
 
“There’s good news in this dazzling book: Technology is not the enemy.  Smarter Than You Think reports on how the digital world has helped individuals harness a powerful, collaborative intelligence—becoming better problem-solvers and more creative human beings.”
—Jane McGonigal, PhD, Author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
 
“Thompson declares a winner in the cognitive fight between human and computers: both together. Smarter Than You Think is an eye-opening exploration of the ways computers think better with humans attached, and vice-versa.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
 

The Book

It’s undeniable: technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson votes “yes”. The Internet age, he argues, has produced bold new forms of human cognition, worthy of both celebration and investigation. We learn more and retain the information longer, write and think with global audiences, and even gain an ESP-like awareness of the world around us. This deeply-reported book—by a New York Times Magazine contributing writer and Wired columnist—dives into the stories and science that document this transformation.

In Smarter Than You Think, Thompson documents how every technological innovation—from the printing press to the telegraph—has provoked the very same anxieties that plague us today. We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt—learning to use the new and retaining what’s good of the old.

Thompson introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters who augment their minds in inventive ways. There’s the seventy-six-year old millionaire who digitally records his every waking moment, giving him instant recall of events and ideas going back decades. There are the courageous Chinese students who mounted an online movement that shut down a $1.6 billion toxic copper plant. There are experts and there are amateurs, including a global set of gamers who took a puzzle that had baffled HIV scientists for a decade—and solved it collaboratively in only one month.

But Smarter Than You Think isn’t just about pioneers, nor is it simply concerned with the world we inhabit today. It’s about our future. How are computers improving our memory? How will our social “sixth sense” change the way we learn? Which tools are boosting our intelligence—and which ones are hindering our progress? Smarter Than You Think embraces and interrogates this transformation, offering a provocative vision of our shifting cognitive landscape.

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