If a time traveller saw a smartphone

The New Yorker has one of the more thoughtful pieces I’ve seen about whether technology is making us more or less intelligent, coming up with insights via the medium of a thought experiment, If a Time Traveller Saw a Smartphone:

A well-educated time traveller from 1914 enters a room divided in half by a curtain. A scientist tells him that his task is to ascertain the intelligence of whoever is on the other side of the curtain by asking whatever questions he pleases.

Coincidentally, I’m in the middle of reading a book consisting of 100 thought experiments: The Pig that Wants to be Eaten by Julian Baggini. I’m a third of the way through and, to be brutally honest, I’m not enjoying it. Part of that is down to me reading the book at bedtime, which probably isn’t the ideal time to be engaging in these kind of exercises. Most of it, however, is down to me finding it shallow compared to some of the philosophical studying I did at university. I imagine it’s like someone who studied psychology reading a pop psychology book. There’s nothing inherently wrong with ‘pop’ books but they’re aimed at people who are interested in a subject without necessarily having studied it. So I suppose the reason I’m not enjoying The Pig the Wants to be Eaten is because I’m just not the right audience for the book.

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