Prediction and HCI (Human Computer Interaction or Interface)
The computer seems to be our new overlord in many ways. We have fallen in love with the thing. Almost to the point animism or of worship. It replaces minute functions, keeps our memory logs, and takes over our jobs. Because it can store and sort data, it seems predictive and we use it in that way in many fields, from math to science to even some medicine and some arts.
Humanity does need to remember that there are positive functions that computers cannot do, can’t even mimic. Things that keep us literally alive. Because we aren’t Spock or Data from Star Trek. Logic and memory are good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s emotion and bonding that make humans thrive. That give us our creative edge. That keep us in the driver’s seat when dealing with a computerized world. A world where though computers are everywhere, and do many things for us, they are still tools. And only as good as the engineers and programmers who built them. Garbage in, garbage out. A computer can mimic, it cannot originate anything without a human. Yet?
Can we really?
No, we cannot really let the computer take over. Because the flaws in the design can still cause horror and death. Yes so can humans! But humans can also correct things when they err, and see the human impact. Computers do not. Computers have no investment in whether the human lives or dies. A human is just a number.
And computers have no way of changing direction when reality strikes in an unexpected way. If someone fell down faint of a heart attack, the computer would observe it, and presume it was lost. Calculate the odds of that loss. Maybe call for help. But a human would interact to see if aid could be offered and the life saved. Humans are invested in other lives. Well most of us.
I play some games on line,
and i’ve never pretended to know all the rules and gambits like a master or computer would. In fact when I play a computer, that is actually my strength. I more often beat the computer than it beats me. It has no idea why I act as I do. It’s not in it’s schema. It often fails in trying to win, because it tries for the highest score or the gambit masters have ‘taught’ (programmed) it, rather than watching what I do and playing counter to that. It ‘reads’ where the pieces are and ‘decides’ which gambits are applicable, if any. And it has no idea what I will actually do when my turn comes again. It presumes I will use a known counter gambit. Thing is, I don’t know the master’s gambits, so how can i possibly play them? I might by luck, but not by design.
Yet many fields rely on computers.
For modelling and statistical analysis. For basic grunt work that is endlessly tedious. And for observation and cataloguing. Even for basic prediction. Most of them remember to keep the human observer involved so far.
Most people remember though that they have to compare the computer findings to real life. To the environment and humans within it. The unpredictable. We humans are crazy that way.
And so is Gaia. If a meteorologist ever forgets to look out the window and solely relies on what is on their monitor, they might miss the snow coming down on what was predicted to be a clear day. The FEMA guy might order fewer sandbags than needed when the levee breaks. Because he had no idea the wind would be so high due to an unpredicted storm front. But the birds nearby were trying to tell him something was up. And even though the runners were all in optimal health, the computer can’t predict one falling and straining their leg or breaking a rib in the fall.
A computer has memory, it does NOT have an imagination that would deal with surprises and human behaviour that wasn’t loaded into the program. Therefore it never has all the data it needs nor can it correct for what it doesn’t know. Like humans can. No matter how much data it has.
So is a computer ever able to fully interface with humanity?
Well, not yet. Not now.
Kind of scary for things like auto-pilot in planes, trains and cars, isn’t it? Or computerized surgeries. Humans still needed here. And this is why.