Computing as a Symbolic Process:
I found Mahoney’s point about computation as a symbolic process very interesting. He states “Computation is about rewriting strings of symbols [and]… The symbols and their combinations express representations of the world” (p.129). Like we went over last week, this is very apparent in programming languages. The symbols Mahoney refers to are probably functions, variables, for loops and other commands within programming languages. This idea carries into Conery’s article. Conery talks about the need for agents in computing, “clearly there must be some structure to the computation, otherwise one could claim any connection of random symbols a constituted state” (p.815). There needs to be reason and order for there to be an output. I believe that the fact that there needs to be these things to create an output, makes this process symbolic.
J.A.R.V.I.S Just A Rather Very Intelligent System, created by Tony Stark (aka Iron Man, aka Robert Downey Jr.), is an operating system with the ability to complete complex tasks and communicate using context.
I am not 100% sure if this is what Engelbart, Sutherland, Licklider or Bush had in mind at the time for HCI, but I don’t think this concept would seem too out of reach for them. J.A.R.V.I.S is the ultimate memex, not only can Tony Stark store all of his “memory” but he can also communicate with J.A.R.V.I.S to access these memories at a rapid pace. J.A.R.V.I.S also fulfills some of Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis ideas. There is a developed partnership and relationship between Tony Stark and J.A.R.V.I.S where they problem solve together. Obviously J.A.R.V.I.S is a fictional operating system…that I know of… but the functions presented do not seem unattainable.
Would Google’s function “Did you mean…” be an example of a kind of Man-Computer Symbiosis?
Bush, Vannevar (1945) “As We May Think,” Atlantic.
Conery, S. John (2002) “Computation Is Symbol Manipulation.” The Computer Journal 55, no.7. p.814-816.
Engelbart, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.” First published, 1962. As reprinted in The New Media Reader, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, 93–108. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Ivan Sutherland,(1963) “Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”.
J. C. R. Licklider, (1960)”Man-Computer Symbiosis”.
J. C. R. Licklider, (1986) “The Computer as Communication Device”.
Mahoney, Michael S. (2005) “The Histories of Computing(s).” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 30, no. 2 p.119–35.