The Brain Extension

The human machine was designed brilliantly. It has the ability to adapt, to grow, to heal, and to learn. That is the greatest thing we have going for us: the ability to learn. The brain is a fantastic thing. It is a repository for the accumulated knowledge garnered over the years; it is where decisions are made; it can make calculations and reason. We all need a brain—though sometimes it may seem that some of us don’t have one. I have a brain. I keep it in a pouch on my belt.

Once was a time when I could call a person by actually dialing their phone number. I would put a finger into the little hole in the dial and turn it around to the metal hook and let it go. I did this seven times in proper order to complete the call, and the most impressive part was not that I actually had the patience to wait for the dial to spin back to the start position before entering the next digit, but that I actually knew the number from memory. Oh, there was a two-inch thick phone book stored right by the phone for the purpose of finding the number, and there was always “information” at 1-411. Those aids were for the more forgetful—those of us who can’t remember numbers.

Now, no one remembers phone numbers anymore. Speed dial reduced seven digits to one. Calling home is now a matter of pressing a single button on a keypad. Integrated phone books in phones did even more damage. Now people simple lookup the person they want to call in their personal phone book and press “call.” Technology hasn’t stopped there, either. Along with phone numbers, these phones also can keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, family member names and relationships and so much more. My phone even reminds me when I need to send a birthday card, or get a gift.

If I don’t have an appointment in my calendar on my phone, chances are I won’t make that appointment. If a birthday is not in there, I might not get a present to give. To my defense, there are just too many ways to contact people now. People have three, sometimes four phone numbers. Home numbers, work numbers, cell numbers, pager numbers, not to mention text messaging IDs and email addresses. How can anyone remember all that?

Well, I take all that and put it in my phone and keep it with me. Oh, it may take a little longer for me to get a phone call dialed, but not by much. With everyone getting multiple numbers, people in most metropolitan areas now have to dial 10 digits to complete a call. I can complete most calls with two to four key presses from my address book.

It doesn’t stop with phone numbers, though. Since I am a movie buff, I often notice an actor in a film I am watching and someone will ask “wasn’t he in…” some other movie. When I was younger, I could probably tell you what movie he was talking about (my younger sister still can), but these days, I rely on the IMDB—the Internet Movie Database. I have this netbook with me almost everywhere I go, so I can look up any actor’s filmography. My cell phone is internet connected as well, so on those rare times I don’t have the netbook, I can still research anything I need.

So now, I don’t even have to remember movies anymore. I can look up the cast, the production company, who wrote the score and what the box office take was when it opened. I can even look up my favorite quotes and the lyrics to the theme song.

I can find recipes online, so who needs to remember one? I can find out how to build a cabinet, so I don’t need to remember the plans. I can look up the family tree, so I don’t have to remember who married who or who begat who. In fact, I don’t have to remember anything. Everything I need to know, I can look up. All I need is my brain…which is in a pouch on my belt. I just have to remember to charge the battery.

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