It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership. The main aims are 1 to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and 2 to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs. In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them. Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output equipment.
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It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership. The main aims are 1 to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and 2 to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs.
In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them.
Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output equipment. The larva of the insect lives in the ovary of the fig tree, and there it gets its food.
The tree and the insect are thus heavily interdependent: the tree cannot reproduce wit bout the insect; the insect cannot eat wit bout the tree; together, they constitute not only a viable but a productive and thriving partnership. This cooperative "living together in intimate association, or even close union, of two dissimilar organisms" is called symbiosis .
There are many man-machine systems. At present, however, there are no man-computer symbioses. The purposes of this paper are to present the concept and, hopefully, to foster the development of man-computer symbiosis by analyzing some problems of interaction between men and computing machines, calling attention to applicable principles of man-machine engineering, and pointing out a few questions to which research answers are needed.
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. The mechanical parts of the systems were mere extensions, first of the human arm, then of the human eye. These systems certainly did not consist of "dissimilar organisms living together In one sense of course, any man-made system is intended to help man, to help a man or men outside the system.
If we focus upon the human operator within the system, however, we see that, in some areas of technology, a fantastic change has taken place during the last few years. In some instances, particularly in large computer-centered information and control systems, the human operators are responsible mainly for functions that it proved infeasible to automate. Such systems "humanly extended machines," North might call them are not symbiotic systems. They are "semi-automatic" systems, systems that started out to be fully automatic but fell short of the goal.
Man-computer symbiosis is probably not the ultimate paradigm for complex technological systems. It seems entirely possible that, in due course, electronic or chemical "machines" will outdo the human brain in most of the functions we now consider exclusively within its province.
In short, it seems worthwhile to avoid argument with other enthusiasts for artificial intelligence by conceding dominance in the distant future of cerebration to machines alone. There will nevertheless be a fairly long interim during which the main intellectual advances will be made by men and computers working together in intimate association. A multidisciplinary study group, examining future research and development problems of the Air Force, estimated that it would be before developments in artificial intelligence make it possible for machines alone to do much thinking or problem solving of military significance.
That would leave, say, five years to develop man-computer symbiosis and 15 years to use it. The 15 may be 10 or , but those years should be intellectually the most creative and exciting in the history of mankind.
The course of the computation may be conditional upon results obtained during the computation, but all the alternatives must be foreseen in advance. If an unforeseen alternative arises, the whole process comes to a halt and awaits the necessary extension of the program. The requirement for preformulation or predetermination is sometimes no great disadvantage. It is often said that programming for a computing machine forces one to think clearly, that it disciplines the thought process.
If the user can think his problem through in advance, symbiotic association with a computing machine is not necessary. However, many problems that can be thought through in advance are very difficult to think through in advance. They would be easier to solve, and they could be solved faster, through an intuitively guided trial-and-error procedure in which the computer cooperated, turning up flaws in the reasoning or revealing unexpected turns in the solution.
Other problems simply cannot be formulated without computing-machine aid. The other main aim is closely related. It is to bring computing machines effectively into processes of thinking that must go on in "real time," time that moves too fast to permit using computers in conventional ways.
Imagine trying, for example, to direct a battle with the aid of a computer on such a schedule as this. You formulate your problem today.
Tomorrow you spend with a programmer. Next week the computer devotes 5 minutes to assembling your program and 47 seconds to calculating the answer to your problem. You get a sheet of paper 20 feet long, full of numbers that, instead of providing a final solution, only suggest a tactic that should be explored by simulation.
Obviously, the battle would be over before the second step in its planning was begun. To think in interaction with a computer in the same way that you think with a colleague whose competence supplements your own will require much tighter coupling between man and machine than is suggested by the example and than is possible today. That assumption may require justification. In the spring and summer of , therefore, I tried to keep track of what one moderately technical person actually did during the hours he regarded as devoted to work.
Although I was aware of the inadequacy of the sampling, I served as my own subject. It soon became apparent that the main thing I did was to keep records, and the project would have become an infinite regress if the keeping of records had been carried through in the detail envisaged in the initial plan.
It was not. Nevertheless, I obtained a picture of my activities that gave me pause. Perhaps my spectrum is not typical--I hope it is not, but I fear it is. About 85 per cent of my "thinking" time was spent getting into a position to think, to make a decision, to learn something I needed to know. Much more time went into finding or obtaining information than into digesting it. Hours went into the plotting of graphs, and other hours into instructing an assistant how to plot.
When the graphs were finished, the relations were obvious at once, but the plotting had to be done in order to make them so.
At one point, it was necessary to compare six experimental determinations of a function relating speech-intelligibility to speech-to-noise ratio. No two experimenters had used the same definition or measure of speech-to-noise ratio. Several hours of calculating were required to get the data into comparable form. When they were in comparable form, it took only a few seconds to determine what I needed to know.
Throughout the period I examined, in short, my "thinking" time was devoted mainly to activities that were essentially clerical or mechanical: searching, calculating, plotting, transforming, determining the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses, preparing the way for a decision or an insight. Moreover, my choices of what to attempt and what not to attempt were determined to an embarrassingly great extent by considerations of clerical feasibility, not intellectual capability.
The main suggestion conveyed by the findings just described is that the operations that fill most of the time allegedly devoted to technical thinking are operations that can be performed more effectively by machines than by men. Severe problems are posed by the fact that these operations have to be performed upon diverse variables and in unforeseen and continually changing sequences.
If those problems can be solved in such a way as to create a symbiotic relation between a man and a fast information-retrieval and data-processing machine, however, it seems evident that the cooperative interaction would greatly improve the thinking process. It may be appropriate to acknowledge, at this point, that we are using the term "computer" to cover a wide class of calculating, data-processing, and information-storage-and-retrieval machines.
The capabilities of machines in this class are increasing almost daily. It is therefore hazardous to make general statements about capabilities of the class. Perhaps it is equally hazardous to make general statements about the capabilities of men. Nevertheless, certain genotypic differences in capability between men and computers do stand out, and they have a bearing on the nature of possible man-computer symbiosis and the potential value of achieving it. As has been said in various ways, men are noisy, narrow-band devices, but their nervous systems have very many parallel and simultaneously active channels.
Relative to men, computing machines are very fast and very accurate, but they are constrained to perform only one or a few elementary operations at a time. Men are flexible, capable of "programming themselves contingently" on the basis of newly received information.
Computing machines are single-minded, constrained by their " pre-programming. Computers "naturally" speak nonredundant languages, usually with only two elementary symbols and no inherent appreciation either of unitary objects or of coherent actions. To be rigorously correct, those characterizations would have to include many qualifiers. Nevertheless, the picture of dissimilarity and therefore p0tential supplementation that they present is essentially valid.
Computing machines can do readily, well, and rapidly many things that are difficult or impossible for man, and men can do readily and well, though not rapidly, many things that are difficult or impossible for computers. That suggests that a symbiotic cooperation, if successful in integrating the positive characteristics of men and computers, would be of great value.
The differences in speed and in language, of course, pose difficulties that must be overcome. In theorem-proving programs, computers find precedents in experience, and in the SAGE System, they suggest courses of action. The foregoing is not a far-fetched example. In other operations, however, the contributions of men and equipment will be to some extent separable.
Men will set the goals and supply the motivations, of course, at least in the early years. They will formulate hypotheses. They will ask questions. They will think of mechanisms, procedures, and models. They will remember that such-and-such a person did some possibly relevant work on a topic of interest back in , or at any rate shortly after World War II, and they will have an idea in what journals it might have been published. In general, they will make approximate and fallible, but leading, contributions, and they will define criteria and serve as evaluators, judging the contributions of the equipment and guiding the general line of thought.
In addition, men will handle the very-low-probability situations when such situations do actually arise. The sum of the probabilities of very-low-probability alternatives is often much too large to neglect. Men will fill in the gaps, either in the problem solution or in the computer program, when the computer has no mode or routine that is applicable in a particular circumstance. The information-processing equipment, for its part, will convert hypotheses into testable models and then test the models against data which the human operator may designate roughly and identify as relevant when the computer presents them for his approval.
The equipment will answer questions. It will simulate the mechanisms and models, carry out the procedures, and display the results to the operator. It will transform data, plot graphs "cutting the cake" in whatever way the human operator specifies, or in several alternative ways if the human operator is not sure what he wants.
The equipment will interpolate, extrapolate, and transform. It will convert static equations or logical statements into dynamic models so the human operator can examine their behavior. In general, it will carry out the routinizable, clerical operations that fill the intervals between decisions. In addition, the computer will serve as a statistical-inference, decision-theory, or game-theory machine to make elementary evaluations of suggested courses of action whenever there is enough basis to support a formal statistical analysis.
Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider
In , J. It was his vision that man and machine would work together to accomplish great things. So how are we doing? I had to do all of those things while preparing this article. The Associated Press has no qualms about such things, though. They accurately provide game stats and player accomplishments for thousands of games across the U. But they could not subjectively describe how the warmth of the sun felt upon the face, or the waxing and waning energy of the crowd, or the thrill of victory versus the agony of defeat.
Resources and Help Man-Computer Symbiosis Abstract: Man-computer symbiosis is an expected 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 main aims are 1 to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and 2 to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs. In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations.