Linked by David Adams on Wed 24th May 2006 04:08 UTC
Editorial It's conventional wisdom that computers need to be "easier to use." But do they? More reliable, yes. Easier to troubleshoot, yes. But now that so many people use computers so much, I think there's something to be said for making them less easy-to-use and less intuitive.
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RE: Deus Ex Machina
by ma_d on Wed 24th May 2006 22:20 UTC
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Human dialogue, especially in English, is incredibly imprecise, slow, and complex to master. It would be a terrible way to interface with a computer under important and serious contexts.

Sure, it'd be nice to dictate your paper (which you can already do, dragon speak, etc). And it'd be nice to talk to bring up your e-mail; but I dare you to write an SQL query this way... And if you think that's hard (because SQL has a remarkably spoken language like semantic) try to write a C program via speaking..

Or better yet, tell your computer where to find a document. "Yea, that's in slash a-q-f-g capital X slash boborama that's b-o-b-o-r-a-m-a no capitals and it's named jill dot text t-x-t." Of course, the computer can algorithmically narrow your choices and allow you to not be terribly precise and this is fine; right up until precision is exactly what you need and no amount of guessing is going to get it.

The interesting part of comparing computer interaction to conversing with your fellow comes into affect when you consider that conversation is horribly innaccurate and usually misunderstood... Take the differences between men and women (typically) for one! How cliché is it for men to complain that women read into what they say; because the woman is reading his speech pattern and body language too and the man is pretending that's unimportant. Shall computers read body language too? Will they try and calm you down when they see you're angry and keep you from deleting all your files because they "know you wouldn't ever want to do that."

This comes down to a basic argument of is computing apt as a tool or as a fellow worker. Obviously I see it as a tool and you see it as a worker. It's working as a tool right now; the worker part is researched a lot (although maybe not as much by proportion as it was 30 years ago) in AI labs.

The last thing I'd ever want to see is being required to talk to my computer. Now, having it read my mind, that's much more intriguing.

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