Being Human Summary and Response

First off, I would like to say that this was a very interesting reading and gave some great insight as to what the future of HCI might bring to our world.

How will HCI affect us in the future? This is a very difficult question to answer mainly because nobody knows the answer. There are so many things that can happen over the next couple of years and trying to forecast exactly what changes are in store for us 12 years down the road is a difficult task. This reading discusses many different aspects as to what us as individuals can expect and also how our world will adapt and react to the increasing amount of new, amazing technologies. Our relationship with technology has been great in the past because it has enabled us to become more efficient, save many resources, and also make our lives easier and more manageable. Unfortunately, it does have some disadvantages such as breakdowns, loss of physical interaction with other individuals, and many frustrating times. Thankfully, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and we have been able to implement various forms of technology into our lives.

The reading can be broken down into separate sections, including how technology has evolved over the past couple of decades, and how it has affected us. Another area that was discussed is how humans are becoming more personally involved with emerging technologies, such as the implementation of HCI and its fast growth. The other areas discuss in detail HCI, its significance in our world today, as well as some insight as to where we can expect to see dramatic changes in the years to come. Ever since the introduction to the internet, our lives have been altered drastically, mostly for the good. We have become extremely dependent on email, our main source of electronic communication because it has enabled us to communicate with others all over the world instantly. Consequently, our lives have become so involved with computers, and mainly the internet, gaining knowledge on everything has become virtually impossible. There is simply just so much information to be learned as one can pretty much find anything they want on the internet.

One of the most interesting topics that was discussed was the change over from mouse/keyboard to multi-touch devices. We can see this change happening with the creation of hand held touch devices such as the iPhone, iPOD, Microsoft Surface, touch sensitive TV’s, etc. It has clearly been an impressive couple of years as far as input devices are concerned. One of the most fascinating new devices are OLED displays which are in some cases as thin as a credit card. This is amazing to think that something 0.3mm thick can produce an unbelievably clear image and also consume much less power than a standard LCD monitor, which are considered the standard today. One can only dream of where we will be in 10 years if there are monitors as thin as credit cards getting ready to go into production.

The design and use of robotics is also rapidly growing as well. Since the focus date of this reading is around 2020, many of the statements mentioned will most likely change because it is simply too far down the road to predict where technology will be then. However, it can definitely be argued that it will have a dramatic effect on everyone’s life, no matter who you are. The reading states that by 2020, every individual will have and/or use some sort of technological device from day to day. This isn’t that astounding because almost everyone today has a cell phone or some sort of digital music player.

What might happen is completely up to the designers that are creating these devices. The possibilities are endless and we will definitely be amazed looking back when we are in the year 2020. We might not even be making our own decisions, but instead, letting a computer calculate the best decision for us. It is kind of scary to think but in a way it is really cool. Something like placing an order for food products might be as simple as walking up to your fridge as pressing a few buttons, without having to actually make a trip to the supermarket!

Our basic human value must be taken into consideration when designing new devices and implementing them because devices that are created solely for the purpose of being cool will not succeed. We need to make relevant decisions as to what we need and what we value the most. There are a few stages in which the author discusses which are very similar to the design process we have been talking about in class. These stages include understanding, creating, evaluating, designing, and learning or studying. As all of these points must be touched upon, there are certainly ones that are more important than others. Those being understanding and evaluating. These are the most important because if we don’t understand our problem or where we ultimately want to be, creating a technology product or service is pointless. Also, evaluating is a very difficult and time consuming process which must be taken seriously in order to be successful.

Overall, this reading was extremely insightful and is easy to relate to from an HCI perspective. It is interesting to see individuals views as to what the future has in store for us. Of course this was only written by one person and many of the statements can be debated, it was a great overview of where we came from and what we should be expecting as to how technology will be effecting us in the years to come, whether we like it or not. So get ready for a very interesting next couple of years; who knows what will happen by 2020?

When I think about how all of this new technology will affect us in the future I have mixed feelings. I am extremely excited that these new innovations will enable us to be more efficient and effective with what we need to do as well as how interesting and exciting they are. Since I am so interested in technology, it is really cool to surf the web and watch how companies go through the design process; even though the public isn’t exposed to nearly half of what is actually involved. On the other end of the spectrum, it is a little scary to think how we will be constantly watched like a hawk, whether it is through recorded phone conversations or from a security camera. Soon enough, there will be eyes on us at all times and microscopic microphones recording everything we talk about. When will we have privacy? We might never have privacy, but the important thing to realize is that most of these surveillance devices are supposed to help us rather than hinder us.

In addition, when thinking about the creation of all of these new robots that are supposed to be able to do everything a human does, it also is a little scary. Will we be out of jobs by the year 2050? Will a robot and computer be able to make better decisions than me? Just recently I read online that a robot performed brain surgery on a woman in Canada that had a brain tumor. It seems like pretty soon robots will be performing all of the surgeries and surgeons will be essentially out of business. Now, it will save people thousands of dollars, and human error will be reduced to virtually nothing, but is this what we really want to happen?

All of these situations are things to take into consideration when we look at the rapidly growing pace of technology and the future that is in store for us. Yes, it will definitely benefit us in many ways, but will it also hinder us more than we are anticipating? Nobody really knows right now as this questions is unanswerable, so we will just have to go along for the ride and see where it takes us.

I certainly hope that machines don’t make people obsessive over technology, and that we will all have a chance to control the technology and use it to our benefit, and not the other way around.

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2 Responses to “Being Human Summary and Response”

  1. jopeck Says:

    The Being Human summary focuses on the effects of HCI both now and, mainly, in the future. Th advantages and disadvantages of HCI are mentioned along with the significance that it plays in our world. Lastly, new devices are discussed with the focus pertaining to the human value that must be addressed in designing such creations.

    This summary is quite detailed and a little lengthy. However, the length is not necessarily a bad thing. Given the subject matter, I think that it would have been difficult to cover this information with much less text. Also, had it been shorter, the reader’s level of understanding may not have been so great.
    The break down of the summary was well organized and specific examples allowed the reader to really grasp certain topics. Overall, it is very nice.

  2. hcid1 Says:

    That was a good summary. You covered pretty much the whole book and all of the core topics.

    I would have liked to have seen a little bit more about how you related to this personally in your response. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see technology fitting into your life?

    A couple of points. First of all, this was written by four people, but it is a collaboration of about 30-40 of the top minds in HCI when they met together for a conference on this topic. So I would say that this really comes from the field itself.

    Second, you say that almost everyone has a cell phone. Just to clarify this. While cell phone is probably the most ubiquitious piece of technology worldwide. World wide ownership of cell phones has just reached 50% recently (or will do so soon). http://current.com/items/88980637_half_of_the_world_s_population_has_a_cellular_phone

    I think the article is making a pretty bold claim (that could happen) with the statement that everyone will have something digital.


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