Has relying on tech made us more stupid?

Leaning too heavily on artificial intelligence can erode our tolerance for the repetitive actions that help us actually learn

A Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with autopilot. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
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I was driving home from Palo Alto to San Francisco, a journey I’d done dozens upon dozens of times before. Only this time, I faced a problem: a phone without power; a journey without GPS. I missed my exit and became hopelessly lost in streets less than a mile from my home. How embarrassing: I claim to love this city, and yet in that moment I felt I barely knew it. Suddenly deprived of my tech, I was unable to find my way, because I had never needed to learn it. 

I’m not arguing against the use of GPS. But I bring it up to demonstrate that efficient technology can be an impediment to learning. Only through effort and repetition, without shortcuts, can we truly retain useful knowledge.

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