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BRAIN GAIN by Marc Prensky

BRAIN GAIN

Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom

By Marc Prensky

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-230-33809-8
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

A technology and education expert examines how technology can make us better—if we let it.

Prensky (From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning, 2012, etc.) opens with the thought that "today’s technology is changing your mind—and all of our minds—for the better." He then rigorously examines the notion that technology improves not only our daily lives, but humanity as a whole. The author devotes many chapters to the questions surrounding the ways in which technology has changed our lives, predominantly in how we receive or use information. For example, Prensky addresses the question of whether making communication more concise (e.g., the 140-character limit of Twitter) is dumbing us down, taking the position that the ability to be succinct in our communication is a worthwhile skill and one we need in order to stay current. The most interesting chapters focus on education, a subject the author has covered at length in two previous books. Here, he posits that because many adults are uncomfortable with the latest innovations, they focus only on the possible downsides and too often limit children’s access to laptops, smartphones, tablets and other technological devices. It should come as no surprise, Prensky concludes, that students may have little interest in entering science, engineering or any technology-based fields when teachers "are continually broadcasting to them the unconscious message that technology is bad and best avoided." The author closes with a chapter on the coming "Singularity,” which refers to “the moment, not very far off…when our technology will become as powerful, and even more powerful than our human brains.” Referencing theories from science fiction writers and futurists (including Ray Kurzweil), this ending seems an odd, speculative conclusion in an otherwise reasonable, practical book.

An intriguing, astute counterbalance to the scaremongering that dominates many other books on digital life.