Nugget for “Augmenting Human Intellect”

Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” by Douglas C. Engelbart.

First any possibility for improving the effective utilization of the intellectual power of society’s problem solvers warrants the most serious consideration. This is because man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society. The other contenders for first importance are all critically dependent for their development and use upon this resource. Any possibility for evolving an art or science that can couple directly and significantly to the continued development of that resource should warrant doubly serious consideration.

Of all the excerpts I read from Dr. Engelbart’s paper, I found this one truly enthralling. I have never given much thought to how truly amazing our problem-solving skills are. Whenever I find something interesting, like a new invention for example, I usually say something like “Wow, I wonder how they came up with the idea for that,” but I have never actually wondered about how they came up with the idea before now. The more I think about it, the more I agree with Dr. Engelbart; our mind’s ability to problem solve is our greatest asset. Just think of all the innovations humans have made throughout history. When ancient civilizations needed to find more efficient ways of moving heavy material such as stones and wood, they created levers and pulley systems. With the growth of the human race and the increased need to effectively move people and goods from one place to another, transportation such as ships, trains, automobiles and airplanes were invented. During the Cold War when military commanders, scientists, and government officials feared the Soviets would attack the telephone system (and thus their means of communicating with one another), a method of computer-to-computer communication was created (the early beginnings of the Internet). As the human population grows, diseases and other ailments grow, and so medicine is ever evolving and inventing new methods of treatment. The brain’s highly advanced ability to problem solve is an extraordinary tool, one which has proven throughout the course of history to be invaluable.

The primary text I used in my previous nugget post correlates well with this passage from Dr. Engelbart’s paper. The video discusses the invention of the first wireless long-term implantable brain chip by researchers at Brown University. This chip allows quadriplegic patients to use their thoughts to move robotic arms, thereby allowing them some mobility. I believe this video is a perfect example of Dr. Engelbart’s proclamation that “…man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society…” because of how tremendously groundbreaking the invention is. These researchers saw a problem and they came up with an ingenious solution to solve it, one that benefits such a large majority, if not all, of society. Our brain’s ability to solve complex problems is its most important and valuable capability, a capability which has proven to be of the utmost benefit.


EDIT

Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” by Douglas C. Engelbart.

First any possibility for improving the effective utilization of the intellectual power of society’s problem solvers warrants the most serious consideration. This is because man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society. The other contenders for first importance are all critically dependent for their development and use upon this resource. Any possibility for evolving an art or science that can couple directly and significantly to the continued development of that resource should warrant doubly serious consideration.

Of all the excerpts I read from Dr. Engelbart’s paper, I found this one truly enthralling. I have never given much thought to how truly amazing our problem-solving skills are before reading this essay, and the more I think about it, the more I agree with Dr. Engelbart; our mind’s ability to problem solve is our greatest asset. Just think of all the innovations humans have made throughout history. When ancient civilizations needed to find more efficient ways of moving heavy material such as stones and wood, they created levers and pulley systems. With the growth of the human race and the increased need to effectively move people and goods from one place to another, transportation such as ships, trains, automobiles and airplanes were invented. During the Cold War when military commanders, scientists, and government officials feared the Soviets would attack the telephone system (and thus their means of communicating with one another), a method of computer-to-computer communication was created (the first step towards the Internet). As the human population grows, diseases and other ailments grow, and so medicine is ever evolving and inventing new methods of treatment. The brain’s highly advanced ability to problem solve is an extraordinary tool, one which has proven throughout the course of history to be invaluable.

The primary text I used in my previous nugget post correlates well with this passage from Dr. Engelbart’s paper. The video discusses the invention of the first wireless long-term implantable brain chip by researchers at Brown University. This chip allows quadriplegic patients to use their thoughts to move robotic arms, thereby allowing them a form of mobility. I believe this video is a perfect example of Dr. Engelbart’s proclamation that “…man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society…” because of how tremendously groundbreaking the invention is. These researchers recognized the problem of immobility to the highest extent in quadriplegic patients, and they came up with an ingenious solution to solve it. This, as well as all of the revolutionary inventions of our history, would not have been possible if not for our brain’s advanced capacity to problem-solve.

Colin said it best in his post regarding the same passage:

if a community were to have no tangible resources, the resource that would be most important would be problem-solving capability, by a long shot. But then even in a country with many other resources (like us), without a surplus of problem-solving capability, we may as well have none! Problem-solving capability is how we use those resources to take the next step, to move forward and overcome whatever our obstacles may be.

Mankind is reliant upon our problem-solving skills; just like Colin said, it is how we overcome the obstacles we face. More than that, though, it is how we have progressed and created all the wonderful (and at times scary) technology we have today. Helen mentioned in her post that “we are never satisfied with what we have now,” which I believe is absolutely true. We are always recognizing problems or shortcomings in the world around us, and we constantly strive to find solutions to better them, a process that would not be possible without our problem-solving abilities. Through the brain’s strong capacity to problem-solve, mankind is ever evolving, and as Zahra said in her post “…we are constantly growing and changing, which in turn can lead to nothing but positive insight and knowledge gained.” 

2 thoughts on “Nugget for “Augmenting Human Intellect”

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