Re: [unrev-II] OHS Overview

From: Henry van Eyken (
Date: Tue Nov 21 2000 - 18:47:15 PST

  • Next message: Henry van Eyken: "Re: [unrev-II] Re: Tuesday's meeting"

    Eric, Frode:

    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
    > advance.
    > 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
    > mentioning.
    > * 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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