The Internet of Us

The Internet of Us

Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data

Book - 2016
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We used to say "seeing is believing"; now, googling is believing. With 24/7 access to nearly all of the world's information at our fingertips, we no longer trek to the library or the encyclopedia shelf in search of answers. We just open our browsers, type in a few keywords and wait for the information to come to us. Now firmly established as a pioneering work of modern philosophy, The Internet of Us has helped revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human in the digital age. Indeed, demonstrating that knowledge based on reason plays an essential role in society and that there is more to "knowing" than just acquiring information, leading philosopher Michael P. Lynch shows how our digital way of life makes us value some ways of processing information over others, and thus risks distorting the greatest traits of mankind. Charting a path from Plato's cave to Google Glass, the result is a necessary guide on how to navigate the philosophical quagmire that is the "Internet of Things."

Publisher: New York :, Liveright Publishing Corporation,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780871406613
Branch Call Number: 001 Lyn
Characteristics: xviii, 237 pages : illustrations


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Nov 13, 2017

Lynch is a professional philosopher, and a good one; "The Internet of Us" takes as its task to examine "the foundations of ... our digital life." His approach, well supported in ethics and neuroscience, is that the Internet - especially social media and the growing pervasiveness of cell phones and other connected objects (your car, your watch, your refrigerator, your thermostat) is changing the very way we as human beings know things. We replacing deeper levels of understanding with pervasive Google-knowing, and an un-examined hive mind.
The author does not say that the connected world is bad in itself, just as the automobile is not bad in itself. The automobile has made us preference itself over other ways of getting places - we use cars exclusively and unthinkingly, over public transportation and walking which are other ways of getting places with their own positive effects on us and on society. Similarly, a technologically connected world makes us preference quick and less-critical reception of snippet knowledge from the crowd (or worse, from the crowd of people who think like us and just re-tweet the same things), over our own rational acceptance of reasons for belief and knowledge.
He reiterates the good that can come from our connected lives, and that the UN has declared blocking access to the Internet a violation of human rights. However, he desperately wishes we all spent more time in rational and thoughtful discourse over the net.
Ironically, the very people whose digital attention spans are most affected by fragmentation and living on social media are the least likely to pay attention and read his arguments...

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