Nugget Assignment #2 “Man-Computer Symbiosis”

When reading this nugget from “Man-Computer Symbiosis” by J. C. R. Licklider it stimulated my thinking with images from fictional movies and thoughts toward the future.

“About 85 percent of my “thinking” time was spent getting into a position to think, to make a decision, to learn something I needed to know. Much more time went into finding or obtaining information than into digesting it. Hours went into the plotting of graphs, and other hours into instructing an assistant how to plot. When the graphs were finished, the relations were obvious at once, but the plotting had to be done in order to make them so. At one point, it was necessary to compare six experimental determinations of a function relating speech-intelligibility to speech-to-noise ratio. No two experimenters had used the same definition or measure of speech-to-noise ratio. Several hours of calculating were required to get the data into comparable form. When they were in comparable form, it took only a few seconds to determine what I needed to know.

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.

The main suggestion conveyed by the findings just described is that the operations that fill most of the time allegedly devoted to technical thinking are operations that can be performed more effectively by machines than by men. Severe problems are posed by the fact that these operations have to be performed upon diverse variables and in unforeseen and continually changing sequences. If those problems can be solved in such a way as to create a symbiotic relation between a man and a fast information-retrieval and data-processing machine, however, it seems evident that the cooperative interaction would greatly improve the thinking process.” (Licklider 3.1)

The nugget above was really confusing to me until I did some research and read Symone‘s blog about a nugget similar to mine. She summarized really well, that Licklider’s view of man-computer symbiosis is for man to work with machines rather than use them as an extension. With man’s flexibility and machine’s accuracy and speed, the product is a more efficient way to carry out tasks.

Specifically, this nuggest stood out the most to me because it reminded me of J.A.R.V.I.S. from the movie “Iron Man.” J.A.R.V.I.S. is basically the sweet result of Licklider’s reading. Although J.A.R.V.I.S. maybe more advanced than what Licklider was describing, they are closely related. J.A.R.V.I.S. can do everything listed above in the nugget plus the ability to reason, communicate through speech and utilize other machinery to “his” advantage. J.A.R.V.I.S. is also a positive example of how man and machine can work together.

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For those of you questioning this topic, J.A.R.V.I.S. stands for “Just A Rather Very Intelligent System.” J.A.R.V.I.S. is just as the acronym explains it to be an intelligence system programed by Iron Man, or Tony Stark, in the Marvel action film “Iron Man.” In this fictional movie, the relationship between J.A.R.V.I.S. and Tony Stark is a great example of man and machine working together. Tony Stark is a genius even without J.A.R.V.I.S. But he comes to his even greater conclusions with the speed and accuracy of J.A.R.V.I.S. so that he does not waste 85 percent of his time “thinking.” J.A.R.V.I.S. is also able to do just what Licklider stated. He is able to search, calculate, plot, transform, and determine the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses. Wuddy might also agree with me on this one based off the fact that he also included J.A.R.V.I.S. in his blog as well. On the other hand Morgan might disagree because her experience with fiction always ends badly. Instead of thinking of a movie like Iron man she thought of Moon and Spider-Man 2 where technology takes over man. That is not always the cause though, you just have too look at all the pros!

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Are we close to technology like this? Some enthusiasts actually have built something relatively close to J.A.R.V.I.S. With modern everyday technology and an average budget, this man was able to create a real life J.A.R.V.I.S. His version of J.A.R.V.I.S. is advanced but not nearly as close to the real thing.

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Let’s not look at how close we are to technology like this but how far we have gotten compared to Licklider’s reading. As Justin stated it would have been more science fiction than feasible prediction of the computing technology of the future, since this reading was written in 1960. There are prerequisites listed in his reading that have been met including memory hardware, the language problem, and others that are still in the making. We now have technology such as hard drives that are capable of storing enormous amounts of information and in some cases we are able to speak to our technology, for example with Siri. Siri can be really helpful in many ways such as aiding in typing, setting reminders, and searching addresses as stated in Katie‘s blog.

siri photo: Siri Siri.jpg

Overall we are very close to the idea Licklider declared. Human intellect and concept are there but the technology is not quite there yet.

Lastly here is an amazing seen from the movie “Iron Man” that represents man working with machine to achieve an amazing conclusion. This video basically translates this nugget, or reading as a whole, into video form.


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