There are many who believe that the internet will make us stupid, so it may come as a relief to know that some 2,400 years ago Socrates believed* that the same would happen because of the new art of writing:
This invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom.
And misunderstanding the capabilities of computers is not a recent invention either; in the mid-19th Century the mathematician Charles Babbage, theoretical inventor of the first mechanical computer, complained:
On two occasions I have been asked, — “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
I found both of these quotes in James Gleick’s The Information, which despite my being only four chapters in, and the fact that it’s only March, is a candidate for book of the year.
* According to Plato.