Humans differentiated themselves 100,000 years ago by developing the ability to have a detailed memory. Not just “where did I hide the acorns” but rich and diverse memories about people and places.
Only a few thousand years ago, we amplified this by making those memories permanent. Telling a story to someone else dramatically increases our memory capacity.
Then we started making and saving our notes.
And then we developed a common language so we could share those notes with others. The library and the cloud meant that your memory could become my memory too.
And only recently we added search, so the memories and insights of a billion or more people could be easily accessed.
The sixth layer, now appearing, is an intelligence that prompts us and tells us what is out there before we even decide to search for it.
No wonder we’re a bit dizzy. We just multiplied our minds by many orders of magnitude. It’s easy to confuse someone else’s memory (or manipulation) with our hard-earned ability to remember things that actually happened to us.
And we’re now realizing that we have the power (and perhaps the obligation) to use shared knowledge to make better, more thoughtful decisions. And to intentionally edit out the manipulations and falsehoods that are designed to spread, not to improve our lives.