Smartphone ownership is predicted to hit 2.5 billion by 2019 and 60 per cent of internet traffic now comes through our mobile devices. But does the world becoming more reliant on handheld gadgets to guide us in day-to-day life come at a price? In her cover piece this week, Lara Prendergast claims that we are outsourcing our brains to the internet and that technology is taking over our minds. On this week’s Spectator podcast, Lara is joined by Isabel Hardman, Charlotte Jee, Editor of Techworld, and Professor Martin Conway, head of psychology at City University. On the podcast, Lara tells Isabel:
‘I do think it’s having an effect on me and certainly people I have spoken to have said similar things to me that it’s affecting their ability to remember things and also the way they process information. Because we’re processing so much information, we’re not actually necessarily committing it to memory. I do feel – I got a smartphone in 2011 – and I do feel it’s changing the way I think about and learn things.’
Also on the podcast, Toby Young discusses whether the possible return of grammar schools is a good thing. In 1998, Tony Blair banned the creation of new selective education schools, in a move designed to champion a new era of social mobility. Now, almost 20 years later, there are strong rumours that new Prime Minister Theresa May plans to end that ban and reintroduce grammar schools. The move is popular with the grassroots of the Conservative party but has already been met by rumours of dissent from Cameronite factions. And shadow education secretary Angela Raynor said that ‘selection belongs in the dustbin of history’. So what shape are these reforms likely to take? And if grammar schools do entrench inequality, is there a better, ‘third way’, for education policy? Toby Young argues in the Spectator this week that bringing back grammar schools won’t help social mobility. So why is Theresa May doing this? Toby tells Isabel:
‘I think it may partly reflect the fact there are more grammar school-educated members of the Cabinet than there were in David Cameron’s cabinet. It also is a way of putting some distance between her and her predecessor. Cameron would never have countenanced doing something like this and I guess it also fits with her aspiration agenda: wanting to do something for the least well off.’
And finally, in this week’s Spectator, Matt Ridley analyses the similarities between conservation projects in Zimbabwe’s Bubye Valley and Durham’s grouse moors. The common factor in these areas is a controlled hunting programme, which allows wealthy shooting enthusiasts to cycle money into the local conservation efforts. But whilst Matt Ridley applauds the efforts of private landowners in creating flourishing red grouse populations, not everyone agrees it’s doing any good. Andrew Gilruth, from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Mark Avery discuss.
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