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  • Writer's pictureElin Hauge

Are we app'ing ourselves into stupidity?

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

We are surrounding ourselves with apps; there is an app for absolutely all aspects of our lives. There are even apps for digital detox! A common topic of frequent debates is whether we are making ourselves addicted to our smartphones. That's not my mission right now. Actually, my mission is related to Putin clinging to a finger, a bra hanging from the flag pole of the White House, and Borat enjoying the scent of a sunflower.

Let me first tell you about a lunch date I was on a few weeks back. A professional lunch date, to be precise. Or, as my lunch date called it, a "brain date". Let me introduce you to Frank Wedde, no less than an international brain trainer. You know that feeling when that person on the other side of the table remembers everything you have said and not said (aka body language telling a different story) the moment the words have left your mouth…..? Frank is one of those. Intriguing. He is definitely intelligent, but I believe not more so than several of my friends and colleagues. His exceptional skill lies in the ability to learn extremely fast AND remember what he has learned. What is even more intriguing is that this skill is something we can all achieve - with the right training.

In his book "Ligg et hode foran", he argues that as artificial intelligence and robots is likely to cause the disappearance of most routine jobs plus a whole lot of cognitive jobs, humans need to strengthen our ability to learn new skills fast, and also develop the human soft skills like creativity, complex problem solving, and social interaction.

What struck me is how digital apps are doing the opposite; the apps tell us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. We don't need to remember anything, the apps remember for us. Through gamification they also take over our mental reward system. Are we about to unknowingly marginalize our mental capabilities? What may the long-term consequences be if we continue to outsource all cognitive challenges to apps? Are we in fact going in the completely wrong direction, making ourselves even more vulnerable for replacement by intelligent machines?

By the way, are you curious about why Putin is clinging to a finger, a bra is hanging from a flag pole of the White House, and Borat is enjoying the scent of a sunflower? Let me give you a hint: I will forever remember the ten largest countries (by area) in the world.

The irony is that the solution to the functional brain training app…

PS. The Memolife website:

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