I am exploring J.C.R. Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis theory, the implications it had when Licklider published his 1960 article, where we stand now in our relation to technology, and based on research whether or not society seems to be fulfilling this… Read more
I am exploring J.C.R. Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis theory, the implications it had when Licklider published his 1960 article, where we stand now in our relation to technology, and based on research whether or not society seems to be fulfilling this theory. Licklider’s theory states that “man-computer symbiosis is a development in cooperative interaction between men and electronic computers. It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership.”
The research questions I started with were; what is the historical significance of Licklider’s theory? What technological advances are fulfilling this theory? How close is this to happening as Licklider imagined it? Is Man-Computer symbiosis a good thing for humans?
The natural roadblock to this is the fact that my project is capable of going in a lot of different directions. So it was a little difficult to narrow down what I wanted to focus on. When I was exploring another theory over the course of the semester, whose name escapes me, I was looking around on youtube for applicable videos. I found what I need but as I read through the comments I came across a recommendation for the book Feed. It was described as an example of where our digital age is taking us. Because I had an oceans worth of information I could explore I started with Feed, I knew it would apply in some way and might help me to narrow down my topic.(The following video discusses Feed briefly but portrays the essence of the book nicely.)
I was also told of a TED talk by my suite mates that described a new way of using computers. Seeing potential for this to apply to my project I investigated.
With Mistry’s Sixth Sense Technology, Feed, and Licklider’s theory I figured out how to narrow my project. I initially planned on researching Sixth Sense Technology but decided I wanted to expand that and explore prosthetics as well. This is where my classmates come in. I picked four pieces of technology; the google goggles, sixth sense technology, i-Limb, and Proto 2 by DARPA. I asked them for an explanation of what the technology is and does? How does it embody Licklider’s theory? What kind of innovation can you see happening that would further exemplify Man-Computer Symbiosis? I also found a senior thesis from MIT titled Pilot: A Step Towards Man-Computer Symbiosis that I asked for feedback on as well.
For the second half of the project I intend to learn more about the technology I have chosen and to finish Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky so that I can hypothesize the effects of Man-Computer Symbiosis on our society. Having read Feed it will be hard to keep that from giving me a bias however, Shirky should help counter that. In general, the project hasn’t changed much in theory, it was just difficult to put into reality.
In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the… Read more
In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the Memex: “The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.”"
How could one not read this and consider what that would be like, our brains constantly connected to the internet, able to upload and download information instantly.
Ok, so maybe The Matrix is an extreme example but, I think every kid out there has wished that everything we learn in school could be downloaded into our brains in a matter of minutes. This likely occurred one of those dreary days where you really just want to stay in bed. Anyway, while perusing youtube I found another video from the Vlogbrothers. Two brothers, Hank and John Green, spent a year communicating with each other via blog videos and this idea was brought up.
All of the sudden internet security became infinitely more important. Like any major change in society there are pro’s and con’s having access at all times to all the information in the world would put everyone on an even playing field and certainly result in an interestingly new societal structure. On the other hand would we become as John Green said, “mindlessly consumeristic” in a sense entirely different from the mindless consumerism we suffer from today?
I leave you with an excerpt from the book mentioned in the video Feed by M.T. Turner(please excuse the swearing) and the question of what you would expect from a world in which everyone has the internet in their minds at all times?
Your face is not an organ
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.
We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, “I’m so null,” and Marty was all, “I’m null too, unit,” but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we’d been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun place for lo-grav on the moon. Lo-grav can be kind of stupid, but this was supposed to be good. It was called the Ricochet Lounge. We thought we’d go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel there and go dancing.
We flew up and our feeds were burbling all sorts of things about where to stay and what to eat. It sounded pretty fun, and at first there were lots of pictures of dancing and people with romper-gills and metal wings, and I was like, This will be big, really big, but then I guess I wasn’t so skip when we were flying over the surface of the moon itself, because the moon was just like it always is, after your first few times there, when you get over being like, Whoa, unit! The moon! The goddamn moon! and instead there’s just the rockiness, and the suckiness, and the craters all being full of old broken shit, like domesnobody’s using anymore and wrappers and claws.
The thing I hate about space is that you can feel how old and empty it is. I don’t know if the
others felt like I felt, about space? But I think they did, because they all got louder. They all
pointed more, and squeezed close to Link’s window.
You need the noise of your friends, in space. I feel real sorry for people who have to travel by themselves. In space, that must suck. When you’re going places with other people, with this big group, everyone is leaning toward each other, and people are laughing and they’re chatting, and things are great, and it’s just like in a commercial for jeans, or something with nougat.
To make some noise, Link started to move his seat up and back to whack Marty’s knees. I was like trying to sleep for the last few minutes of the flight because there was nothing to see except broken things in space, and when we’re going hard I get real sleepy real easy, and I didn’t want to be null for the unettes on the moon, at the hotel, if any of them were youch.
I guess if I’m honest? Then I was hoping to meet someone on the moon. Maybe part of it was the loneliness of the craters, but I was feeling like it was maybe time to hook up with someone again, because it had been a couple months. At parties, I was starting to get real lonely, even when there were other people around me, and it’s worse when you leave. Then there’s that silence when you’re driving home alone in the upcar and there’s nothing but the feed telling you, This is the music you heard. This is the music you missed. This is what is new. Listen. And it would be good to have someone to download with. It would be good to have someone in the upcar with you, flying home with the lights underneath you, and the green faces of mothers that you can see halfway through the windows of dropping vans.
As we flew across the surface of the moon, I couldn’t sleep. Link was playing with the seat like an asshole. He was moving it forward and backward. Marty had dropped his bird, these fake birds that were the big spit and lots of people had them, and Marty’s bird was floating off, because there was hardly any gravity, and whenever he leaned out to get his bird, Link would slam his seat back like meg hard and it would go bam on Marty’s face, and they would start laughing. Marty would be all, “Unit! Just wait one—” and Link would be, “Go for it. Try! Try it!” and Marty would be like, “Unit! You are so—!” And then they would be all big laughing and I felt like a complete bonesprocket for trying to sleep when there was fun. I kept hoping the waitress lady would say something and make them shut up for a minute, but as soon as we got out of Earth’s gravitational zone she had gone all gaga over the duty-free.
I didn’t want to be sleepy and like all stupid, but I had been drinking pretty hard the night before and had been in mal and I was feeling kind of like shit. So it was not a good way to start this whole trip to the moon, with the seat thumping on Marty’s face, and him going, “Unit! I’m trying to get my bird!”
Link was saying, “Go for it.”
Marty went, “Linkwhacker! Shit! You’re like doing all this meg damage to my knees and my face!”
“Kiss the chair. Pucker up.”
They both started laughing again. “Okay,” said Marty. “Okay, just tell me which of my frickin’ organs you’re going to smash this time.”
“Keep your tray in the upright position.”
“Like what organ? Just tell me.”
“Those aren’t organs.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your face is not an organ.”
“My face is too an organ. It’s alive.”
“Omigod, is there enough oxygen?” said our friend Calista. “Because are you having some kind of neuron death?”
“I’m trying to sleep,” Loga complained. She yawned. “I’m flat-lining. Meg.”
Then there was this wham and Marty was all, “Oh, shit,” holding on to his face, and I sat up and was like completely there was no hope of sleeping with these morons doing rumpus on my armrest.
The waitress came by and Link stopped and smiled at her and she was like, What a nice young man. That was because he purchased like a slopbucket of cologne from the duty-free.