In the latest phase of the information revolution through technology, what destiny awaits for natural human intelligence?
As always Jason was staring at the pavement while he walked to school. Passers-by would have wondered what could cause an eight year old so much concern that they buried their head so low in thought, but they were used to it. Jason was a thinker.
However today was different. Jason usually distracted himself with questions such as ‘are the colours I see, the same that everyone else sees?’ or ‘Is this entire world and everyone an illusion for my benefit?’ or ‘What would aliens really look like?’ For it has to be said Jason did believe in life on other planets. Yet the thoughts that ran through Jason’s head today were mundane. They were personal. Jason would have failed the test he had set himself ever since he first read of telepathic powers in comics; that he would have such profound thoughts that would captivate a mind reader and prove to them that Jason had an intellect to be reckoned with.
An eight year old was allowed to fantasise right?
But today as Jason walked to school his head was buried in thoughts about his life. While he was happy over his new smartphone, he was still troubled. He wanted to be a leader. He wanted all the kids in school to follow him. He wanted to be admired by Claire. With his intelligence he would be unstoppable. With all the children in school behind him they could finally overthrow the tyranny of adult rule. No more teachers! No more parents! No more –
His train of thought was interrupted when he overheard the voices of some fellow children. It wasn’t the fact they were children’s voices that had surprised him, he was about thirty seconds from the school. It wasn’t the fact they were arguing, arguments of a non-personal nature often happened before registration. It was what they were arguing about. Intrigued, Jason went over to the group of mention that he had barely talked to before. His foot nearly missed a step as his eye caught Claire.
Adorable Claire with her dark hair yet alluring green eyes and ready smile. It was the first time he looked into those green eyes that he had fallen. He had finally realised that one thing he deemed a weakness. A weakness that stopped men of intelligence and destiny from fulfilling their potential. And when he had discovered that he was in the classic boy likes girl situation and that he was therefore deemed weak, he realised something else. He didn’t care.
He suddenly felt awkward, shy and self-conscious. What if something suddenly grew on his face? Were his cheeks on the fat side this morning? What if, when he spoke, all that came out was a girl’s voice? What would she think of him then?
However Jason’s curiosity was greater than his self-consciousness. He buried those thoughts and continued to approach the group, and the more he heard the more his suspicions were confirmed. They were arguing about Pokémon. What were they – six? Pokémon had been around when his uncle had been a child. Surely they’d realised there were better shows on the networks now? And anyway the Pokémon made these days weren’t as good as the first few years when the show was made. He would know – he had watched them with his uncle when he was younger. He moved into the group while they were arguing.
‘I’m telling you, there were initially 250 Pokémon when it started! That’s what my brother told me.’ Rick exclaimed at the group.
‘And again Rick, you’re wrong!’ Ben responded louder, ‘There were 150 when it began.’
‘That can’t be! Pikachu is the evolved form of Pichu, yet Pichu is number one hundred and seventy two. Greater than one hundred and fifty.’ With Rick emphasising the “greater”, ‘How could there have been one hundred and fifty Pokémon in the beginning then?’
At that the group turned their heads to Ben, but he seemed stumped. Jason had been silently watching the exchange. He did know the answer, Ben was right. Jason always remembered little technicalities like that. However Jason had watched enough playground arguments to know that even if your reply was sound, the opposing member would still believe they were right unless they were shown proof.
He brought out his smartphone, at which the children in the group gasped at. They all wanted a smartphone. Smartphones were cool no matter who you were, boy or girl. If you thought differently then you weren’t cool. Simple.
As he typed his query into the Google search bar, Jason started to speak in his quiet yet focused voice, ‘I’m afraid to say Rick, that Ben is right. If you watch the episodes of Pokémon after the Pokémon Gold and Silver games were released, it was explained that Pichu and the fact that baby Pokémon existed, was a new scientific discovery in the field of Pokémon.’ At the end using the same phrase he remembered one of the characters of the show saying again and again. He found the Wikipedia page he wanted and flicked at the screen to get to the section he knew would explain what he wanted, and brought it up to show at Rick.
Rick took the phone, looked and read aloud what he saw as children tend to do when they read something. After he finished reading Rick looked up and said ‘Oh… oh…okay.’ However Rick’s interest had changed, ‘When did you get this Jason?’ He rotated the phone in his hands in admiration.
Jason couldn’t help but feel conscious and protective of his brand new smartphone, and had to physically stop himself from reaching out and snatching it back. Instead he willed to the heavens that Rick wouldn’t drop it, or smear it with spit or something. ‘Yesterday. Went out with my Dad to central London to get it.’
‘It’s really cool Jason.’ Claire said.
At this Jason suddenly felt lighter, like he could float off the world. Claire had talked to him! He was about to come out with a reply, probably a stammered reply when Miss Kershaw shouted out, ‘Alright Year three! Time for registration! Queue up in front of your classrooms!’.
Rick handed back Jason’s smartphone with a ‘thank-you’ and they set off to queue for registration and another day of school.
* * *
Miss Kershaw watched as the children shuffled into their classrooms in their lines. She had caught the end of the conversation happening between the group involving Ben, Rick and Jason. And she was worried.
It wasn’t the nature of the conversation that worried her, even though she did know what Pokémon was. What kind of teacher would she be if she didn’t? No it was the use of Jason’s smartphone to solve the argument. She had nothing against it, she didn’t begrudge Jason using it the way he did. No, it was what it entailed for the future. She had already found out in her own life that her memory retention skills were declining for vague pieces of information due to the ease of being able to do a google search on her smartphone. It wasn’t even her memory that was declining, it was the sheer fact that people were also getting lazy in being able to search their own memories. She feared for the future if people forgot to remember information. And here she was watching the seeds of it starting in the next generation.
She had to do something about it. The future of human intelligence was at stake.