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There’s no point in even trying to debate the obvious: technology has made our lives simpler and ultimately better. The trade-off is that we’re dependent on all sorts of gadgets, but that’s a small price to pay when the world is as wired as it is. As a result, humans at large are at risk of losing something important — but we might gain something even better as a result.

Recent studies have explained the changes taking place. For starters, it’s extremely likely that people are doomed to suffer from “digital amnesia” — that is, the general reliance on devices and connections to remember things on our behalf means that we can’t hold onto details very well. It’s been proven in several surveys, one of which found that seventy-one percent of a sample six thousand couldn’t remember their children’s phone numbers if asked.

It sounds like a crippling loss, but there are benefits. Instead of remembering specific data, tests have suggested that we’ve become better at remembering where that data is stored. More to the point, the internet may have helped with the development of a “transactive memory” — one where it’s possible to know information by knowing that someone else once dealt with it. Simply put, their knowledge becomes our knowledge, and in turn brainpower is saved by not having to overexert with a wealth of information. All told, it may be a case of two steps forward and one step back.