Surprise! Computers Really Do Make You Smarter

For decades, cognitive scientists warned that as we grew more and more dependent on computers to do our thinking for us, our own minds would grow less sharp from lack of use. So ingrained is this thinking that children are still subjected to years of grinding math calculation on paper, for fear that their first contact with a calculator will render them mathematically illiterate forever.

But now it's turning out to work the other way around: Saving information on a computer boosts human memory resources for new information.

This has made sense to many technology enthusiasts like Terry Richardson for years, but the rest of the public is slow to catch on. It's a simple matter of offloading the boring, tedious detail onto a machine, while freeing up our limited faculties for the heavier mental work that computers can't do. Instead of having to remember the capitol of Uruguay, we can trust Wikipedia to have that information on tap when we need it, while we free up those brain cells to apply towards understanding international politics.

Furthermore, it's often more important to know how to find out a fact than it is to memorize it by rote. Knowing that details of everyday facts are a 'google-away' helps us solve problems faster, by knowing what queries to ask and whether the information is well-suited to a search retrieval. Now, if only we can get the education system to forget its old ways in step with this progress.