Posts Tagged ‘human/machine


Burnett’s How Images Think

Ron Burnett

How Images Think

Area: Digital Media


·                  MRIs and image quality: many issues arise in the relationship between images and diagnosis

·                  Middle space: combines the virtual and the real into an environment of visualization that has the potential to displace conventional notions of subjectivity

Xiv: “How Images Think explores the rich intersections of image creation, production, and communication within this context of debate about the mind and human consciousness.  In addition, the book examines cultural discourses about images and the impact of the digital revolution on the use of images in the communications process.”

Xviii: “However, a great deal of intelligence is being programmed into technologies and devices that use images as their main form of interaction and communications.  The screens that mediate the relationships humans have to the technologies that surround them have become increasingly sophisticated both in texture and detail as well as in content and what can and cannot be done with them.  I use the term image to refer to the complex set of interactions that constitute everyday life within image-worlds.”

Chapter 6: Humans—–Machines

·                  Rather than thinking about human and machine as a collapse, think of it as a convergence

·                  Computers have the capacity to talk to each other

·                  What do “listen” and “talk” mean with computer-computer communication?

·                  Humans transform machines into surrogates

125: “Communications networks to some degree are about autonomous relationships developed and maintained by machines with connections that are generally sustained without too much human intervention.  Of course, machines do not literally speak to each other.  They do communicate although the assumption is that humans mediate the interchange.  However, a great deal takes place that is not governed by humans even if they may have been the progenitors of the interaction.”

126: Can a machine feel pain? “On the one hand, computers are related to as if they have no bodies. On the other hand, when a hard disk crashes and wipes out its ‘memories,’ it also takes something from the humans who may have used it.”

Chapter 8: Computer Games and the Aesthetics of Human and Nonhuman Interaction

·                  There is intelligence in the game, but the question is does the game know?

·                  Technology has always been mapped into and onto human bodies

·                              And…human bodies have always been mapped into and onto technology

·                  Customization is the game

·                  Even though open source may be messy, writing code appears to be the most concrete of activities

·                  When playing video games, there are actually very few choices.  The “trick” to winning is to figure out the limitations

170: “The computer is a trope, a part-for-whole-figure, for a world of actors and actants and not a Thing Acting Alone.  Computers cause nothing, but the human and nonhuman hybrids troped by the figure of the information machine remake worlds.” (Haraway)

171: “Latour suggests that machines and humans form a collective and are continuously acting together in an associative chain of relationships that is only interrupted as people move to different levels of complexity in the process.”

175:  “Current frameworks for developing technological products reflect a limited conception of their role.  In designing such a product, the emphasis is placed on what can be preconceived about its use, as expressed in its functional specification, its optimization to meet specific functional needs, and the evaluation of its performance by predetermined metrics.  This perspective on design is not sufficient to address the agenda of cognitive technology; it takes too little account of the interaction between a technology, its users, and its environment.” (Beynon)

177: “When an individual says something to a friend and he or she responds, there is not direct way to fully comprehend all the intentions that governed the communication.  Instead, both parties agree by convention, habit, and the desire to understand each other that, to a certain degree, the gaps between them will not affect the content f the exchange.  Although the gaps are present, they are part of the process.  Awareness of the gaps, however, pulls the process of communications into a netacommunication, where individuals must develop an awareness of what works and what doesn’t.  They also have to be aware of the constraints that the gaps introduce into every part of the exchange.  It is the combination of exchange, awareness, and communications that produces additional spaces of interaction and conversation—these are third spaces that can only be examined by looking at all parts of the exchange.” (Bateson)


Suchman’s Plans and Situated Actions

Lucy A. Suchman
Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication
Area: Digital Media

•    All activity is fundamentally concrete and embodied
•    The circumstances of our actions are never fully anticipated are continually changing
•    Mutual Intelligibility: the relation between observable behavior and the processes not available to direct observation, that make behavior meaningful
•    The goal is a machine, given some input, reacts/produces the right output behavior by simulating human cognitive processes
•    Suchman uses the terms “interaction” and “communication” interchangeable ⇒ troublesome to me…
Chapter 2
•    Turkle: alive v. not alive; machine v/ person
•    All the things one designs v. all the things with which one communicates
•    Machine operation becomes less a matter of pushing buttons or pulling levers and more a matter of specifying operations and assessing their effects through the use of a common language
•    Term “partner” or “user” in person-computer interaction??
o    “User” isn’t applied to a participant in a conversation
Chapter 3
•    For cognitive science, the background of action isn’t the world as such, but knowledge about the world.  Researchers agree that representation of knowledge about the world is a principal limiting factor on progress in machine intelligence
Chapter 4
•    Indexical Expressions: rely on the here and now
o    Example: “That’s a nice one”
Critical moments in the text
3: “I argue that artifacts built on the planning model confuse plans with situated actions, and recommend instead a view of plans as formulations of antecedent conditions and consequences of action that account for action in a plausible way.  As ways of talking about action, plans as such neither determine the actual course of situated action nor adequately reconstruct it.”
7: “Historically the idea of automata – the possibility of constructing physical devices that are self-regulating in ways that we commonly associate with living, animate beings – has been closely tied to the simulation of animal forms.”
8: “Cognitive science, in this respect, was a project to being thought back into the study of human action, while preserving the commitment to scientism.  Cognitive science reclaims mentalist constructs such as beliefs, desires, intentions, symbols, ideas, schemata, planning, and problem-solving.”
49: “A point of departure for the challenge is the idea that common-sense notions of planning are not inadequate versions of scientific models of action, but rather are resources for people’s practical deliberations about action.  As projective and retrospective accounts of action, plans are themselves located in the larger context of some ongoing practical activity. As common-sense notions about the structure of that activity, plans are part of the subject matter to be investigated in a study of purposeful action, not something to be improved upon, or transformed into axiomatic theories of action.”
50: “[Situated action] underscores the view that every course of action depends in essential ways upon its material and social circumstances.  Rather than attempting to abstract action away from its circumstances and represent it as a rational plan, the approach is to study how people use their circumstances to achieve intelligent action.  Rather than build a theory of action out of a theory of plans, the aim is to investigate how people produce and find evidence for plans in the course of situated action.  More generally, rather than subsume the details of action under the study of plans, plans are subsumed by the larger problem of situation action.”

February 2019
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