Man + Machine = Match made in Heaven?

Before I write this post, I would like to acknowledge the fact that after reading Licklider’s article, I had to see when this book was published, because the way it was written, I thought it was easily published in the 1980s. Surprisingly to me, it was published in 2003.

This article got me thinking not only about all of the improvements we’ve made with computers, but also everything else that we can still accomplish. However, I am worried that if we give computers not only the resources, but the knowledge to almost work alongside with humans, we will slowly give away our ability to think for ourselves. Granted, in the article, the only reason people want computers to have these abilities is to sort of cut out the clerical work and allow the humans to spend more time coming up with and executing solutions, and basically allowing the computers to arrange data and present it to the humans when ready. What I found interesting is that it was determined that when humans start making decisions, or decide to make decisions, it takes them 85% of that time just to sort of mentally prepare themselves to make a decision.

Licklider also mentions that the way he chose what to attempt in his experiments was really by what was easier to organize and understand, rather than pushing his intelligence to the point where he was discovering new things about himself. This reminds me of how our society has become so dependent on the Internet and technology in our day-to-day lives, that the more computers can function and think like humans, the faster we will become equals with machines. And the last time machines became like humans, millions of jobs were lost because machines were able to replace humans in factories. Is this what will happen the more we “train” computers to do our little tasks so we can accomplish greater intellectual feats?

However, there are multiple things holding computers back from becoming our equals, such as the speed component, language clarification and barriers, and most importantly, storage and display. People think that computers cannot keep up with the speed our brains work at, but in a way, computers are faster than us because they are programmed to work on a one-track wave, instead of humans, who have multiple actions going on in their brain at once, so we are more likely to get sidetracked when working on tasks. Language is a big deal because not only do computers have technical language to work with, but they also have to learn our words as well, and in the article, they talk about how a 2,000 word vocabulary is more like a 1,000 word vocabulary in computer language, and 1,000 of our words. I also feel that a lot of people think that storage on a computer is never-ending and that they can just store information upon information on a computer. However, that isn’t true, and in a way, storage components are a very recent development in the technological world because, in all honesty, computers are still very young and there is so much room for improvement.

What people who don’t study technology don’t realize is that there is still a lot of gray area when it comes to meshing humans with computers in a way that somethings we can do, they can’t and vice versa. This article helped me to understand why technology isn’t advance as I think it should be, but it also let me know that a lot of planning and other things go into improving what we already have, and sometimes, our society as a whole isn’t advanced as it needs to be to have a huge breakthrough in technology.

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