How Google Owns 30% of Your Brain . Every morning, when my alarm goes off, I don’t hear a traditional chime – rather, my Amazon Echo plays motivational music to encourage me to actually get out of bed. Then it plays a video news briefing, suggests what I should wear based on the weather and then hands it over to my Google Assistant. Hey Google, what’s on my calendar today? “You have a meeting with Bahar at 11am” I venture out of the familiar terrains of my home guided by Google maps. I follow its recommendations as to where I should get coffee as I use its suggestions for how I should respond to my emails. We now live in a digital universe where different pieces of technology compete for our attention and some others take care of tasks I used to use my brain for.
Some say this means our brains can work more efficiently, while others say we’re just becoming distracted and lazy. The reality is, now algorithms can make endless daily decisions for me, based on how I and others have acted before. So, what does it mean to be human if a bunch of algorithms guide me through my day? And if companies are owning my decisions, can they then own my brain? We delegate a lot of our basic mental skills to gadgets.
Here’s one way to look at it: Our internal navigation system is housed in the hippocampus, which has a volume of 6 cubic centimetres, roughly—as compared to 600 cubic centimeters of the cortex. So let’s take a bit of the hippocampus and hand it over to Google Maps. Decision making processes happen in the Prefrontal cortex, with a volume of about 150 cubic centimetres. Let’s say a portion of those decisions are taken care of by a Google assistant
Your working memory, which you use for holding things like telephone numbers and contact info are now readily accessible in Gmail. And your short-term memory is stored on Google Calendar and Keep. Long term memory for facts is pretty much distributed all over the web and accessible through Search I’m gonna say 28% of your brain actually runs on Google servers. Give or take. This sounds like a radical idea but in fact philosophers introduced it before any of these personalised and daily technologies were invented–Coincidentally the same year as Google launched.
What do you think you do your thinking with? Maybe you think you do your thinking with your brain. I suggest to you that a whole lot of your thinking these days actually goes on in your tools, your smartphones, the Internet and so on. Those are actually doing your navigating, your reasoning, your planning, your remembering for you. This idea is called “the extended mind thesis.” The extended mind thesis is the idea that the tools that we use become parts of our mind. So when I used my iPhone for navigating or for remembering phone numbers or for looking something up, it’s not just a tool, it’s actually part of my mind, like a part of my brain.