I’m looking forward to the time when I can interface directly with a portable (cellphone-sized) computer and thus the internet. I don’t want to use a keyboard or mouse for input – though I must admit that at the moment those are still by far the best in their field – and I don’t want to use an external screen for visual output. Information needs to go directly into and out of my brain.
The problem is… I seem to have already started adapting to this new interfacing technology without it having even arrived yet. Instead of properly learning something I just take note that it exists and postpone the information-gathering to the time when I actually need it. I distinguish between things I have to learn to understand and things I have to learn to know. It will be some time before technology can do more than just pave the way or present abstractions to help me understand something. But just knowing something – like how to install Linux, all elements from the periodic table or the symptoms of a disease – today that’s just a click away provided you are connected to the internet or at least to a personal database of some kind. And so are phone numbers, appointments, routes… My memory is already not very good with those. I’ve become very reliant on information technology for everyday tasks. Also, there’s no way back except moving to a third world country or living in a cave, because having a pre-computer-age-memory requires you to pretend to live in a pre-computer-age. But there are times when I am not connected to the internet (due to a bad signal or having no computer around) or need some time searching for information. This is not a very good state to be in – it’s like doing a heart transplant when the new heart has not even arrived yet.
All we can (realistically) do now is focus on keeping our brains active by doing more in terms of understanding concepts and hope that more reliable and immediate ways of acquiring and storing knowledge will arrive soon.