As far as I know, the original description of the human system in the
context of man+tool capabilities appears in the 1962 proposal for the Air
Force, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.," Part II.
Might it not be best before publishing anything here to go back to basics
here? Mind you, I should think that after the 40 years that have gone by
since the proposal was written, a couple of thoughts might now be developed
somewhat differently. I lot has been learned about psychology and
linguistics since. And perhaps about human organizations as well. The
Whorfian hypothesis, for example, makes no longer a respectable reference,
nevertheless this does not negate the core conclusion, I don't believe.
I imagine writing that Section II would today take a substantial team of
academics from various disciplines and a couple of conventions on the
subject (and, hence, would not likely to ever have produced that mouse,
etc.). Nothing against that process, mind you, but for a single, unaided
individual to produce a proposal that looks fundamentally correct to me is a
most remarkable thing. One might say, an audacious thing. And definitely a
thing that already has borne substantial fruit. And those fruits do much to
speed up the academic process from grants to results. Some "bootstrapping"
Not being a disciplined philosopher, I plea for the opinion of those who
Eric Armstrong wrote:
> I hate to express the negative reaction I am
> experiencing. It is clear that the document
> is accurate, and a lot of thought went into
> it. So what I am about to say is bound to be
> demotivating. For that, I apologize in
> But my personal reaction to the picture
> presented here is that it is about as compelling
> as a wet blanket.
> It has the same difficulty as the colloquium,
> in my view -- it covers way too much ground to
> be a practical recommendation for anything.
> When it begins talking about the "human system",
> in particular, it reflects the colloquium. Like,
> the colloquium, the specific impact on the
> "human system" is never adduced. Three possibilites
> spring to mind:
> * Will the human system go on as before
> unchanged? If so, it scarcely needs
> * Will the human system evolve naturally
> in the new environment? If so, the
> evolution that will take place is worth
> mentioning in a companion piece, but it
> is not an integral part of the system
> that is being proposed. The only significant
> relationship to the human system (as far
> as it leads to acceptance) is what *benefit*
> will the system have on the human system.
> * Is the proposal seriously attempting to
> change human systems simultaneously with
> a change in technology? If so, what is
> going to be different, and why is there
> any reason to believe that the effort
> will be successful? (I suspect that any
> such effort is fore-doomed. I'm willing
> to be convinced otherwise, but have yet
> to see a convincing argument.)
> Analogy: What we really need is a
> transportation system that allows your
> personal auto to become part of a "train".
> That allows efficient, hands-off travel
> while preserving the benefit of autonmous
> travel at your destination. But that
> requires everyone to change everything,
> all at once, and it just ain't gonna happen
> in this lifetime...
> Toffler pointed out that new technologies first
> replace the preexisting models. Only later are
> they expanded into new territories. It seems
> clear to me that a system which provides immediate
> benefits comes into use. The co-evolution that
> occurs in system functionality and human use then
> produces even greater benefits.
> But to speak of the "human system" as anything
> other than a naturally evolving system is to
> defeat the project before it gets started.
> If the evolutionary hypothesis is accepted, then
> the only significant aspect of the system is how
> it will make your life better today -- before you
> change anything at all about the human systems
> you are used to.
> Again, I believe the document you've constructed
> accurately reflects the issues as they have been
> formulated to date. I just believe that the
> particular formulation we've all seen has always
> been, and will continue to be, an "impossible sell".
> Believe it or don't, use it or toss it.
> Them's my thoughts.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Nov 21 2000 - 18:52:42 PST