Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 769. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2020-04-15 14:29:30+00:00 From: Henry Schaffer
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.764: pubs: A Way Through On Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 3:17 AM Humanist wrote: > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 764. > Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London > Hosted by King's Digital Lab > www.dhhumanist.org > Submit to: email@example.com > > > > > Date: 2020-04-15 06:41:41+00:00 > From: Sheldon Richmond > Subject: A Way Through > > Sheldon Richmond, A Way Through the Global Techno-Scientific Culture > (Cambridge Scholars, 2020) > > Computers are supposed to be smart, What??? I've done a lot of work in the ICT arena, and I've yet to hear anyone in technology say that computers are smart. To go down this path, it's necessary to define "smart". A Google search for the word brings up two definitions: 1. INFORMAL having or showing a quick-witted intelligence. "if he was that smart he would never have been tricked" I don't think this applies - but 2. (of a device) programmed so as to be capable of some independent action. "hi-tech smart weapons" Ahh - while I sometimes use the meaning - I'll claim that "of a device" refers to a piece of equipment that has already been in use and has its use and capabilities extended by incorporating programming. IMHO, this doesn't include computers. They never have had any use other than to be programmed and to follow the program/instructions. Those instructions were written by people. So perhaps the question should start "People are supposed to be smart" (Even for AI, the instructions were generated by software which was written by people.) > yet they frustrate both ordinary > users and computer technologists. Why are people frustrated by smart > machines? > Maybe because the people who wrote the instructions weren't smart enough to make the machines easy to use? My car radio is quite good. One day it stopped showing the time on its display, and only showed the station. Why did this change happen? Maybe when fumbling to change the station while not looking at all of the buttons I pushed something unintended? Whatever the cause, I wanted to change it back - and after diving into the User Manual (at least half of which was for other models of the radio), I couldn't find out how to do it. So I started experimenting - pushing buttons, going into the Menu and selecting this and than and then pushing buttons and/or turning the knob. Aha - the display changed back - not exactly the way it used to be, but good enough for me to be satisfied with how it worked. Sorry for the long story - but my point is that we don't say "Car radios are supposed to be smart, yet ..." So, while I think that Sheldon is making a very good point about the discordance between machine designs (whether they be computer/program or car radio types of machines) and the way people and cultures work - that phrase, "Computers are supposed to be smart" does raise my hackles. --henry _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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