The Amazing, Evolving Brain
There are many cautions and correctives out there recently warning us about the dangers of social media and virtual reality. For example The Atlantic posted the assertion that Facebook is making us even lonelier.
Clearly it is important to find a way to balance our lives, and actually have “IRL” (in real life”, for those of you who don’t follow these acronym trends) experiences. Sherry Turkle has even more dire concerns that people will opt for robotic “relationships” over the more complicated and messier flesh to flesh relationships.
I find these conversations fascinating, as they go to the heart of what we understand it means to be human. The assumption in much of the concern is that these experiences are not “human”. But really, these technologies were created by, are resourced by, are engaged with humans.
In An Alchemy of Mind, Diane Ackerman raises some profound questions about the nature of mind, consciousness and human experience. She talks about the evolution of brain development, and how when the brain stopped growing in size (having reached the limit of what a cranium could stand) humans began developing technologies that would extend their brainpower – e.g. writing. Writing represented an opportunity for the brain to stop having to be the only storage drive (to use contemporary lingo), and eventually we created more and more types of technologies to further extend our brains – of course the computer and now social media being the most obvious examples.
So are we at the point where we will lose our humanity? Or is our understanding and experience of humanity evolving and developing, much as it has over the history of humankind?
I tend toward believing in human adaptation. The same brain (and heart) that longs for a connection with the larger universe, even with God, is also the brain that experiences touch, smell, sight and sound – always grounding us – yes, I will say it – IRL.
What are the implications of this evolution that occur to you?