As technology becomes more ingrained into our daily lives, and our reliance on it for tasks and information increases, so the competition of ‘man vs. machine’ debate hots up. However, Shyam Sankar looks not at this future not as ‘man vs. machine’ but man + machine’:
“Isn’t it supposed to be about man vs machine? Instead it’s about co-operation, and the right type of co-operation. We’ve been paying a lot of attention to Marvin Minsky‘s vision for Artificial Intelligence over the last 50 years. It’s a sexy vision for sure, many have embraced it, it has become the dominant school of thought in computer science. But as we enter the era of Big Data, of networked systems, of open platforms and embedded technology, I’d like to suggest it’s about time to re-evaluate an alternative vision that was developed around the same time – I’m talking about JCR Licklider’s human-computer symbiosis, perhaps better termed Intelligence Augmentation … his vision was to enable man and machine to co-operate in making decisions, in controlling complex situations, without the inflexible dependence on predetermined programmes.”
“The more you look around you the more you see Licklider’s vision everywhere: whether it’s augmented reality in your iPhone, GPS in your car, our human-computer symbiosis is making us more capable. So if you want to improve human-computer symbiosis what can you do? You can start by designing the human into the process. Instead of thinking about what a computer will do to solve the problem, design the solution around what the human will do as well.”
What’s this to do with learning, or education? Simple … if we can work out a way to co-operate with the computational capabilities of computing devices (mobile, desktop, etc.) in a way to enhance our learning need can we increase our learning capacity? This is obvious in areas where large-scale computations are needed, but can this be used for classroom use? We already ask students to collaborate with each other, why not collaborate with the computer – not just use it as a tool, but use it as a team member?
A bit far fetched .. .maybe, but for how long?