TO GO WITH AFP STORY "SKorea-US-Internet,INTERVIEW" by Simon Martin
US technology writer Nicholas Carr speaks at a press conference during Seoul Digital Forum in Seoul on May 26, 2011.  Like tens of millions of others, US technology writer Nicholas Carr for years found the lure of the worldwide web hard to resist -- until he noticed it was getting harder and harder to concentrate. He set out his concerns in a celebrated essay headlined "Is Google making us stupid?" His latest book "The Shallows" explores in depth what he fears the Internet is doing to our brains.      AFP PHOTO/JUNG YEON-JE
Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains is available in paperback and is in stores now.

Nicholas Carr talks technology



When was the last time you sat down in front of a website and read a long piece of writing? And properly read it, without scrolling down, quickly scanning for pertinent sentences or clicking on the first link that looked interesting?

For all its wonderful uses, the internet, as science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow once memorably called it, is "an ecosystem of interruption technologies". But what if the way we read online has a more insidious side effect? What if it is changing the way we actually think?

This was the starting point of a 2008 essay in The Atlantic magazine by blogger, journalist and author Nicholas Carr. He was battling with "an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I think I know what's going on. I've been spending a lot of time online."

And ironically, most people who read his essay did so online, too. But the response to his ideas - both positive and negative - was so spectacular, he ventured deeper into the subject with best-selling book The Shallows, which earned Carr a nomination for this year's Pulitzer Prize. The paperback publication this summer is likely to ignite the debate all over again. Proof, perhaps, that Carr has touched a nerve.

"A lot of people have found the book disturbing," he says. "And I think that's because it raises concerns about the future that people, in their laudable enthusiasm for the technology, haven't thought carefully about. A lot of people I meet say they had this vague knowledge that something was changing in the way they were thinking, but hadn't understood the full implications or reasons until they read the book."

Through some persuasively readable neuroscience based on the idea that actions repeated again and again change the make-up of our brains, Carr explains that the way we read on the internet actually has an impact on the way the brain functions. By constantly skimming, the brain begins to lose the capacity to process material deeply, which is essential to our critical and analytical faculties, our imagination and most importantly, our ability to acquire and retain knowledge.

Of course, he's not the first person to be concerned about the effect of new technology: Plato was worried that the new-fangled fad of writing would severely affect the art of memory back in 400BC.

"Yes, and I've no doubt we'll survive and adapt to the internet," says Carr. "But I do think the internet is unique in that it's the most intensive media technology that's come along, the first that we carry with us and use all day long. "

The Shallows says that this "always on" culture is dangerous for our minds because it's wholly based on information, rather than knowledge. "Technology has become so good at delivering the precise information that we need at any given moment that we feel we're tapping into knowledge," says Carr. "But knowledge is something we have to build. It consists of the connections we make between the information we have and the experience we have gained, the emotions we feel. It used to be about backing away from the books we'd read and thinking deeply about what we'd learned, but the internet discourages that. It just gives you the most popular answers. It's actually quite worrying how quickly its convenience has begun to push aside ways of research which were central to learning."

The book also contains some intriguing chapters that bounce off Carr's main idea, particularly where he discusses Google's mission "to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". He also investigates the company's desire to digitise every book ever published.

"A lot of people have huge admiration and trust for the company, and I do have to say, as far as big corporations go, Google is pretty responsible and thoughtful about how it stores and uses information," he argues. "But what worries me is that there's no guarantee that it will be the same in 20 or 30 years' time. Certainly, the people running it won't be the same. So you're placing a whole lot of trust in a company that may change but still has access to all this information."

Carr explains that Google's book projects simply make works of literature "another pile of data to be mined" and moulded to their search tools, rather than actually read. So is there anything he's at all hopeful about in our web-obsessed age?

"Funnily enough, I'm slightly more optimistic than I was when I wrote the book," he laughs. "And that was a most unexpected feeling. There have been a series of other books and articles that look very sceptically and critically at how this technology is having a negative effect on our social and intellectual lives. There are interesting documentaries such as Adam Curtis's All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. It's very difficult for me to know whether all of this is just a rearguard action that isn't going to change how people actually behave. People do seem just as enamoured by Facebook and Twitter as ever. Nevertheless, there seems to be a greater willingness to think about the consequences of living our lives online. Certainly, the discussion has reached a more sophisticated level where we can look at the benefits and the costs."

The upshot is, then, if you've reached this point in the article, well done. The great ecosystem of interruption hasn't snaffled you quite yet.

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

SANCTIONED
  • Kirill Shamalov, Russia's youngest billionaire and previously married to Putin's daughter Katarina
  • Petr Fradkov, head of recently sanctioned Promsvyazbank and son of former head of Russian Foreign Intelligence, the FSB. 
  • Denis Bortnikov, Deputy President of Russia's largest bank VTB. He is the son of Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB which was responsible for the poisoning of political activist Alexey Navalny in August 2020 with banned chemical agent novichok.  
  • Yury Slyusar, director of United Aircraft Corporation, a major aircraft manufacturer for the Russian military.
  • Elena Aleksandrovna Georgieva, chair of the board of Novikombank, a state-owned defence conglomerate.
The specs: Macan Turbo

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 639hp
Torque: 1,130Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 591km
Price: From Dh412,500
On sale: Deliveries start in October

UAE PREMIERSHIP

Final: Dubai Hurricanes v Jebel Ali Dragons
Saturday, 8.15pm, Al Ain Amblers

Semi-final results
Dubai Exiles 20-26 Dubai Hurricanes
Dubai Tigers 32-43 Jebel Ali Dragons

Table
1 Dubai Tigers, 33 points
2 Dubai Exiles, 24 points
3 Dubai Hurricanes, 18 points
4 Jebel Ali Dragons, 14 points
5 Abu Dhabi Harlequins, 14 points

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

FA Cup semi-finals

Saturday: Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, 8.15pm (UAE)
Sunday: Chelsea v Southampton, 6pm (UAE)

Matches on Bein Sports

SPECS

Engine: Dual electric motors with 102kW battery pack

Power: 570hp

Torque: 890Nm

Range: Up to 428km

On sale: Now

Price: From Dh1,700,000

'O'

Author: Zeina Hashem Beck
Pages: 112
Publisher: Penguin Books
Available: Now

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

Mountain Boy

Director: Zainab Shaheen

Starring: Naser Al Messabi

Rating: 3/5

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FLIP5

Display: Main – 6.7" FHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 3/4" Super Amoled, 720 x 748, 306ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Cream, graphite, lavender, mint; Samsung.com exclusives – blue, grey, green, yellow

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,899 / Dh4,349

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.6-litre V6

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 285bhp

Torque: 353Nm

Price: TBA

On sale: Q2, 2020

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Meydan racecard:

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (PA) Group 1 | US$75,000 (Dirt) | 2,200 metres

7.05pm: UAE 1000 Guineas (TB) Listed | $250,000 (D) 1,600m

7.40pm: Meydan Classic Trial (TB) Conditions $100,000 (Turf) 1,400m

8.15pm: Al Shindagha Sprint (TB) Group 3 $200,000 (D) 1,200m

8.50pm: Handicap (TB) $175,000 (D) 1,600m

9.25pm: Handicap (TB) $175,000 (T) | 2,000m

10pm: Handicap (TB) $135,000 (T) 1,600m

The Woman King

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Stars: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega 

Rating: 3/5

The specs: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Price, base / as tested Dh150,900 / Dh173,600

Engine 2.0L inline four-cylinder

Transmission Seven-speed automatic

Power 211hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque 350Nm @ 1,200rpm

Fuel economy, combined 6.4L / 100km

Profile of Foodics

Founders: Ahmad AlZaini and Mosab AlOthmani

Based: Riyadh

Sector: Software

Employees: 150

Amount raised: $8m through seed and Series A - Series B raise ongoing

Funders: Raed Advanced Investment Co, Al-Riyadh Al Walid Investment Co, 500 Falcons, SWM Investment, AlShoaibah SPV, Faith Capital, Technology Investments Co, Savour Holding, Future Resources, Derayah Custody Co.

INDIA SQUADS

India squad for third Test against Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar

India squad for ODI series against Sri Lanka
Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo hybrid
Power: 366hp
Torque: 550Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Price: From Dh360,000
Available: Now

8 traditional Jamaican dishes to try at Kingston 21

  1. Trench Town Rock: Jamaican-style curry goat served in a pastry basket with a carrot and potato garnish
  2. Rock Steady Jerk Chicken: chicken marinated for 24 hours and slow-cooked on the grill
  3. Mento Oxtail: flavoured oxtail stewed for five hours with herbs
  4. Ackee and salt fish: the national dish of Jamaica makes for a hearty breakfast
  5. Jamaican porridge: another breakfast favourite, can be made with peanut, cornmeal, banana and plantain
  6. Jamaican beef patty: a pastry with ground beef filling
  7. Hellshire Pon di Beach: Fresh fish with pickles
  8. Out of Many: traditional sweet potato pudding
COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

SWEET TOOTH

Created by: Jim Mickle, Beth Schwartz

Stars: Nonso Anozie, Christian Convery, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen

Rating: 3.5/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

THE SPECS

Engine: 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 626bhp

Torque: 900Nm

Price: Dh1,050,000

On sale: now

The specs: 2017 Maserati Quattroporte

Price, base / as tested Dh389,000 / Dh559,000

Engine 3.0L twin-turbo V8

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Power 530hp @ 6,800rpm

Torque 650Nm @ 2,000 rpm

Fuel economy, combined 10.7L / 100km

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Power: 502hp at 7,600rpm

Torque: 637Nm at 5,150rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: from Dh317,671

On sale: now

Getting there

The flights

Emirates and Etihad fly to Johannesburg or Cape Town daily. Flights cost from about Dh3,325, with a flying time of 8hours and 15 minutes. From there, fly South African Airlines or Air Namibia to Namibia’s Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport, for about Dh850. Flying time is 2 hours.

The stay

Wilderness Little Kulala offers stays from £460 (Dh2,135) per person, per night. It is one of seven Wilderness Safari lodges in Namibia; www.wilderness-safaris.com.

Skeleton Coast Safaris’ four-day adventure involves joining a very small group in a private plane, flying to some of the remotest areas in the world, with each night spent at a different camp. It costs from US$8,335.30 (Dh30,611); www.skeletoncoastsafaris.com

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

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