Ever since then, I have told many people and thought to myself many times, that tools, take Google for instance (search and indexing), knowledge management systems (Wiki and other techniques) - these are all extensions of our brains.
We evolve with technology, and it evolves with us. We might be losing our ability to remember, but if it is because we don’t “need” to remember because technology has augmented us... Well, this is why I also am fond of telling people that I have a difficult time separating technology from nature. Even though the two don’t seem like the same thing, technology too becomes part of the natural ecosystem as organisms invent and rely on it.
Also, another way of thinking about this is, maybe the ability to recall small detailed facts was evolutionarily less important than building models in our brains. So, we offloaded recording small facts, while I think we still ingest and build/train our neural nets just fine in our brains.
Then the only problem I see is, if life becomes all about mental models, when our ability to form new mental models degrades with age, what then? Especially with the rate of technological change, I do see a real likelihood that old mental models get left behind and without the ability to adapt, organisms (i.e.) us could be hosed.
Edit: ..and the last sentence could be why the big push for AI and machine learning too - to ensure the models get encoded into the technology too... and be discovered faster, changed more fluidly, etc. Another evolutionary tool.
Orwell wasn't prescient enough to imagine the type-remember, where you kept your entire perception of the world on machines that weren't controlled by institutions with your best interests at heart.
That had to wait for Fahrenheit 451 to create an entire administration and police force to get rid of your old encyclopedias.
It's honestly worse in real life, because in the book the savages and intellectuals on islands live peacefully outside the regime. There is no option to not participate in our world, given that climate change will affect the entire planet; there is no safe refuge from the regime because it directly affects even those not participating in it.
I want to say something ideological, interpreting a given piece of evidence in a simplistic way to assert that it can be reduced to my own assumptions, but I also want to sound clever about it.
I half feel like making a bot that goes through reddit and just says "it's almost as if" whenever it detects anyone has made an assertion of fact of any kind, in increasingly implausible and unconnected ways.
It has been a few years for me, but there were several prescient chapters when I last ready it during the rise of populism around the globe (2015), namely sections IV, V, VI, and VII:
II Quantity, Quality, Morality
IV Propaganda in a Democratic Society
V Propaganda Under a Dictatorship
VI The Arts of Selling
VIII Chemical Persuasion
IX Subconscious Persuasion
XI Education for Freedom
XII What Can Be Done?
 https://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/ (full text)
 - The story in written form - http://www.visbox.com/prajlich/forster.html
 - An audio recording - https://librivox.org/the-machine-stops-by-e-m-forster/
 - Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_Stops
It's true, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile risk. Nor does it imply that the other approach is risk-free / has no downsides.
Marshall McLuhan wrote that in 1964 in "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man".
They're not a technology that enhances or melts with the human who uses it, it doesn't vanish into the background, the car doesn't even evolve much, rather the environment changes to fit the car, if anything hindering evolution, it displaces the natural ecosystem, it doesn't become part of it.
The same can be said about technologies weakening memory. They look like an enhancement maybe, but they may actually just cause impairment of function, becoming a crutch.
I agree. But these two examples are different in a way that is important to me: my personal wiki is under my control; Google is not. Therefore, when I find important things in Google, I sometimes still take care to rewrite them into my wiki, using my own words.
Using the wiki feels like extending my brain. Using Google feels more like outsourcing it.
Yeah. Kinda. Not really. I bet people had to walk more before cars though.