Human-Computer Interaction: Communication, Cooperation, and Application Design

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

new technology will diversify ways in which people spend their free time, enrich the culture, make possible solving social problems, etc. ( Gates 1995). He also notes the problems which come with the age of information. The ubiquitous computers will change relations between states as well as social and economical groups in particular countries, there will emerge, among other things, the issues of right to privacy, commercial secrets, national security as well as social equality in the access to information technology. Gates perceives also some risks to autonomous cultures which are due to the cultural unification of many countries and the creation of a homogenous world culture.

Humanists increasingly often ponder on the personality of digital-age man. Will the original Homo sapiens, transformed into Homo faber and Homo ludens in the course of evolution, become Homo electronicus with a "one-digit palm designed for striking computer keys?" Some prediction-makers envision the man of the future as a bio-electronical hybrid, i.e. a human enhanced with micro-processors. Meanwhile, the followers of the idea of symbiotic man believe that people will no longer function as individuals and become "neurons in the global brain". Today, such visions still look like fantasy, yet there are signals of the first steps taken in that direction. For example, chemists at College de France are ,,growing" a biological computer in their laboratory dishes, British physicist S.Hawking considers computer viruses to be a primitive form of artificial life, and scientists at Rochester University ( A.Ray, M.Ogihara) have used DNA strains as "logical nodes" in conventional computers. Simultaneously, "humanization of computers" is connected to research on constructing artificial intelligence.

In many research institutes in the world, artificial neuron nets are constructed which bear resemblance to the human brain and replace man in complicated activities requiring both knowledge and intuition. Until recently, attempts at making a robot endowed with artificial intelligence were restricted to building supercomputers. Since they did not show a trace of simple thinking, attention turned to the possibilities of "growing" intelligence (Japan Brain project).

Scientists at MIT ( C.Breazeal, R.Brooks) work on constructing cyborgs-artilects that acquire intelligence by learning through observation of the world around them and physically resemble humans (Cog and Kismet robots). A creator of new generation computers, D.Hillis, is the author of computer programs which can join together to form new ones, better adjusted to the tasks given to them (artificial evolution). Several systems are in operation that respond to human movements (the Alive system). Works are carried out ( M.Korkin) on a supercomputer built of neuron CoDi modules in which modules of predetermined characteristics may be "grown". Works are also carried out on the Brain Activated Technology and Fujitsu is analysing so-called silent speech.

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