“Augmenting Human Intellect” Douglas Engelbart, 1962 + “Put-That-There” Richard Bolt, 1988

[Week 7] In Augmenting Human Intellect, Douglas Engelbart discuss the idea of augmenting Human intellect capacity by relegating as much tasks as possible to computer. He decomposes each task into smaller processes that can in many case be accomplished by computer. The remaining tasks that can hardly be accomplished by a computer (due to different limitations), are then seen as more suited to humans. Engelbart suggest that humans should focus on these “more complex” tasks and then extend then be able to advance further than if they would have to also process all the tasks computer can manage by themselves.

In “Put-That-There”,  Richard Bolt discuss a system where the end user can command a computer with a set of more human-based language instruction. Using human like deduction, and pointing direction, a computer can understand and accomplish instructions like “make the circle larger” or “delete the triangle”. While todays computing left away command line driven instruction to the profit of graphic user interface, there’ still many cases where Bolt ideas may be put in practice to improve the communication quality between a computer and its user. For example, in most software (like operating systems), we need to precisely define each element for each instruction, even if there’s only one. Bolt suggested that if only one element would correspond to the instruction, the computer should assume the user refers to this one. I’m amaze to realize how today’s user commands in software, are still directly based on machine-level type of instruction. With proper implementation of Bolt’s ideas, user wouldn’t have to learn how the machine works internally and would be able to focus more on the tasks itself instead of the computer vocabulary that can translate their gaoled into sets of instructions.

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