Tech-induced adaptations

Credit: flickr/Dan Zan

A handful of recent studies have shown new and strange ways that technology is rewiring our brains.

Earlier this month a Columbia University psychologist explained how our reliance on search engines (no need to name names, we know who you are, Google) is making us remember less. Although Einstein famously advised against memorizing something you can look up so this doesn't worry me overly much.

Another study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing found that the constant feedback from smartphones is apparently conditioning us to check them dozens of times a day -- sometimes unconsciously.

And, as if that weren't enough, a study in the U.K. found that the Internet, that great service that some of us rely on for our livlihood, is a crutch on par with alcohol and cigarettes.

All this psychological mumbo jumbo leads me to wonder what sort of physical adaptations might be coming next.

As pinky toes go the way of the dodo, what new adaptations can we expect? Will we see tiny hands growing on our thumbs for faster texting (as pictured above, which is really what started this whole line of thinking)? How about flaps on our ears to hold earbuds in place? Or kangaroo-like pouches on our chests to hold smartphones for hands-free talking?

And wouldn't it be handy to have USB ports embedded in our skulls? I wouldn't mind storing some of my memories elsewhere if it freed up brain space for other pursuits. And as my colleague Josh Fruhlinger pointed out, once we do start having data ports in our bodies maybe they'll stop changing peripheral standards all the time: "sorry we need to swap out your USB 3 port for a Thunderbolt port, you'll need major surgery for that."

Would health insurance cover this or would we have to go to one of those scary body modification shops?

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