Today we’re going to look at technologies that are designed to make you feel insignificant.
Topping the list is a new German robot whose sole purpose to solve Rubik’s Cube, a feat that I have accomplished several times, usually with some level of frustration. It seems that the primary challenge is designing a motor fast enough to rotate and move the blocks to get to the solution. It looks like the research worked. The new world’s record is 0.38 of a second. I can’t even spill my coffee that fast. There is one teensy weensy problem. Apparently, the robotics hand crushes cube on a relatively regular basis. I hope that self-steering technology in cars doesn’t suffer from that same problem.
Another piece of technology that is having a significant impact on us is the now very popular GPS, used by millions to find our way around while driving. Apparently, using a GPS reduces activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in both memory and navigation. We used to use spatial memory — which involves using visual cues to develop “cognitive maps” that remember routes, and now with our GPS-induced autopilot, we’re losing that skillset which can lead to memory problems later in life, according to a study at the University of London.
Their study found that taxi drivers had more developed hippocampi than non-taxi drivers — perhaps because they are so accustomed to navigating cities using spatial memory, rather than relying on GPS.
I don’t think I would let either of these two examples deter you from using technology or playing games like Rubik’s Cube, after all, the fun in the game is solving the puzzle, not breaking you hand twisting the cube, and there’s nothing wrong with a little technology assistance when driving around, reducing stress related to getting lost or the fear of asking a complete stranger for directions.
Reporting for Computer Insider, I’m Bob Pritchard