“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.
Any present-day large-scale computer is too fast and too costly for real-time cooperative thinking with one man. Clearly, for the sake of efficiency and economy, the computer must divide its time among many users. Timesharing systems are currently under active development. There are even arrangements to keep users from “clobbering” anything but their own personal programs.
Computing machines can do readily, well, and rapidly many things that are difficult or impossible for man, and men can do readily and well, though not rapidly, many things that are difficult or impossible for computers. That suggests that a symbiotic cooperation, if successful in integrating the positive characteristics of men and computers, would be of great value. The differences in speed and in language, of course, pose difficulties that must be overcome.”
Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursions may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.”
Technology has certainly changed from the time Linklider (1960) wrote that article. Today we not only have super fast computers at our fingertips that allow us to preserve our memories for more important things (or so we hope). We don’t need to keep facts in our minds because they can be called up in a second on Google. The older generation might worry about us not having good attention spans to read a whole book or remember facts at a moment’s notice. But I think we have a pretty good deal now because there is no need to remember so many things. Learning poems and tables by heart is a thing of the past. We may not even need to learn a new language to converse with someone thanks to the many translation softwares and applications available. Here is one called iTranslate. In addition to these, voice-recognition softwares like Siri and Dragon. Siri’s tag line is literally, “Your wish is its command,” which is pretty much like having one’s own genie on our phone!
Besides these marvels that Linklider (1960) nor Bush (1945) could have imagined, there are also medical uses of technology that are not only saving lives but enabling people with certain illnesses and disabilities to live healthier and productive lives. Some examples are: The Cochlear Implant for deaf people that was invented in 1982, prosthetic limbs, laser surgery to correct vision defects, a new stem-cell research that is in its initial stages to cure some types of blindness, heart-pacemakers etc. Besides major advances in medical treatments, technology is also enhancing our lives in new and unheard of ways. The most recent developments are: Google glasses, which can actually look up anything you want, even how to say something in a different language! Check out this music producer asking for something in a foreign language.
And now Brown University has come up with “the first wireless, implantable, rechargeable, long-term brain-computer interface” or BCI for short. These little devices as small as a pacemaker are imbedded into our brains. It has already been tested in animals, and now its time for real human trials. I bet Linklider never imagined this would ever be possible!