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TED Book Chat

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Live Chat with TED Books author Howard Rheingold today at 2pm Eastern: Can our digital tools make us smarter?

Continuing with our series of TED book chats, for the next few weeks we'll be discussing Howard Rheingold's new TED eBook, "Mind Amplifier".

Do we humans co-evolve with the tools we build? Can our tools actually make us smarter? "Mind Amplifier" explores the origins of our digital tools, and lays out a framework for harnessing them to collectively and collaboratively solve our most pressing problems.

The book is available for Kindle, Nook, and iOS devices (which have a great new custom TED Books app):

Kindle copy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GQXRQ8

iOS app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ted-books/id511071050?mt=8

The author will be joining us for a live Q&A November 8th at 2pm Eastern, mark your calendars!

You can also watch Howard's 2005 TEDTalk, linked below.

So, let's get things started... do our new online tools make us smarter? And if not, can we design and use them in a way that does?


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    Oct 25 2012: I have not read the book, just the title. As it is phrased the answer to the subtitle query has to be "no". Degrees of smartness vary from individual to individual, just like eye color. Nothing can change the genetically determined characteristics of a person. I can do things to process information more efficiently and I can work to increase my knowledge base, but I cannot make myself smarter any more than I can change my blood type. Digital tools can make users more efficient and productive, they can even make users want to exercise their brains, but they cannot make users smarter. Now I will read the book, not to become smarter, but to become more knowledgeable.
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      Oct 25 2012: while do you think there exists "smarter"?
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        Oct 25 2012: For clarification, may I re-word your question?
        Are you asking: "Why does the word 'smarter' exist?" I suspect it is, so I will answer it.
        Smart has to do with intelligence which is determined by genetics. A normal, healthy, uninjured person has a certain natural capacity for processing information. The capability of the human mind is not well-defined, but it seems certain that not everyone has the same intellicence, not everyone is equally smart. The word "smarter" is synonymous with "more biologically equipped to process information". For example: "Albert Einstein was smarter (more intelligent) than most." He was born that way.
    • Oct 28 2012: This is a link you may find interesting:

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        Oct 28 2012: Certainly the measurement of "smartness" or "IQ" is not an exact study. For any given problem there is a "smart" response which can be determined empirically. If a person demonstrates a response other than the "smart" one it really has no connection to their congenital ability to process information. Myriad reasons exist which might explain their response. A highly intelligent person will have not-so-smart moments, just as an average person can have sparks of brilliance. Savants come to mind here. Multiple Intelligence seems lke a no-brainer (no pun intended) to me. Thanks for the link!
    • Oct 29 2012: "Nothing can change the genetically determined characteristics of a person." Isn't the study of epigenetics changing the assumption that gene expression is set in stone?
      No teaching software will change a certified moron into an Einstein, but what if it could raise it 20-points, or 30-points - not just in terms of better information or more information; but what if it could inspire one's "Quest Quotient"?
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        Oct 29 2012: Improving scores on a test is proof of an improved utilization of available (congenital) capacity, not proof of increased ability. The ability was always there, it was simply not being utilized. I tell you it's like eye color or blood type. I don't know from epigenetics, or Quest Quotients.

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