Nugget 2: Man-Computer Symbiosis

“Throughout the period I examined, in short, my “thinking” time was devoted mainly to activities that were essentially clerical or mechanical: searching, calculating, plotting, transforming, determining the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses, preparing the way for a decision or an insight. Moreover, my choices of what to attempt and what not to attempt were determined to an embarrassingly great extent by considerations of clerical feasibility, not intellectual capability.” – J.C.R. Licklider

Licklider states early on that the intention of man-computer symbiosis is eventually to have the computer take over reasoning in real time, dismissing any doubt brought on by a slower, human mind. However, he admits that in his experimentation he erred, and gave consideration to only those things clerical in nature. These processes can be more reliably and quickly done by machines. He even goes on to mention that this will be one of the duties placed on machines in our future relations. I take no issue with this, but his assumption is incomplete. What of the processes that can only be completed by man? A computer is smart, but it is no philosopher. Some of the brilliance of humanity can be found in accepting that which we cannot yet prove, or understand. A computer can write and calculate a formula far faster than a human, but it cannot tell me the reason for existence, or about the sensation of perception. Until such a day, I think we would be wise to mind the distinction between the duties of a man and those of a machine.



3 thoughts on “Nugget 2: Man-Computer Symbiosis”

  1. This post makes me think of the movie “The Invention of Lying.” The major difference between man and computer is the ability to create from nothing; essentially the ability to lie. If this ability is ever given to computers, I think a new era will dawn on humanity. It would be interesting to see happen.

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