Academic Skills Book Review

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Technology has reached a level of complexity which is beyond an average individual’s understanding. The development of brain-computer interface has provided many advantages which once seemed impossible. The internet, which we generally use on a day to day basis, has become a medium for information search, individual development, social networking and even marketing. Google is one of the greatest and most frequently used internet sites. The majority of people in today’s society automatically choose to consult a search engine- such as Google- when in need of quick information. People have learnt to depend on the internet without questioning or needing to understand how it works. Hence the internet encompasses an immense level of control, both mentally and globally. It was only a matter of time before someone would consider using the internet as a method of control for the human mind and habits. Sue Halpern’s article Mind Control & the Internet, discusses the growth of technology and unravels the intricate aspects of the internet which we seem to be oblivious to. The growth of technology is hard to grasp and thus it is difficult to determine whether the outcome is solely positive or if it is pushing mankind toward a dystopian world. Halpern’s use of evidence causes one to reflect on the function of the technology and consider the limitations of the internet and its level of control. Beneficial aspects such as the ability to help people suffering from injuries or disabilities, have come from the synchronization of technology and the human anatomy, i.e. brain-computer interface, BCI, thus making that which seems impossible, possible. Halpern emphasizes, “It seems like the Singularity- the long-standing science fiction dream of a melding man and machine to create a better species-might have arrived.” From these new possibilities one must consider the arising debate between repair and enhancement. More specifically, people have begun to use brain- computer interface for unnecessary means. “Enhancement (...) is either reviled as a threat to our integrity and meaning as humans or conflated with repair until the distinction becomes meaningless.” (Halpern) In discussing this development, Halpern brings forth Chorost’s positive opinion on the developing technology. Chorost, a man who enhanced his damaged auditory abilities through BCI, portrays his ideal world where technology reaches a point so that people insert a chip in their brain in order to work as a computer information bank. Halpern questions whether this development will minimize individual purpose.

The internet has unthinkable amounts of control. Google has the ability to monitor and mould what one sees and one is exposed to. We do not stop to consider that every search may be a marketing scheme with the primary goal of profit. That is to say, Google has developed personalized searches which limit people to seeing specific topics and results relating to previous research which one has made on the internet. Our individual paths become predetermined and steered by an outer party. Halpern highlights Parsier’s concern, namely “by having our own ideas bounce back at us, we inadequately indoctrinate ourselves with our own ideas.” (Pariser)The internet lacks democratic reasoning; “Democracy requires citizens to see things from one another’s point of view, but instead we’re more and more enclosed in our own bubbles (...) Democracy requires a reliance on shares facts; instead we’re being offered parallel but separate universes.” (Pariser) Halpern successfully elicits the concern of the developing internet as one becomes aware of the internet’s use of the searching history and the development of a limited personalized information bank.

Every search and post we submit on the internet can be used in order to facilitate a specific opinion. Halpern discusses the claim that “...there is no standard Google anymore” (Pariser). That which we believe to be objective is actually highly...
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