My earliest memories are of my mother — as no doubt for many people. She was always busy bustling about the house, cooking meals, baking, washing up, scrubbing the floor, cutting and re-sewing dresses so that they could be worn by younger sisters, making sure that we were doing our homework, wiping a tear as she hauled clothes from the copper hurt by the rheumatoid arthritis that would cripple her. She was also doing at least two things at once. We would probably call it multitasking; she called it life.

Of course, these days technology is transforming our lives, removing drudgery and making the exchange of information and ideas in an instant a commonplace thing all around the world, from Hong Kong to Honolulu, Tokyo to Timbuktu and back again, no problem.

One simple problem is beginning to loom large: Can the wiring in our human brains keep up with the speed of the computer-inspired gadgets?