Computers will merge ever closer with humans by 2020: Report

April 3rd, 2008 - 1:56 pm ICT by admin  

London, Apr 3 (ANI): With more and more technological advancements, the gap between man and computers is certainly shrinking and the day is not far when this divide would completely fade off and computers would understand human needs and work accordingly with devices embedded in objects, clothing or, in the case of medical monitoring, in human bodies, a Microsoft-backed report has predicted.

According to the report, there will be fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The report titled Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the year 2020, came out through discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.

The report indicated that by 2020, humans will increasingly question machines, while the computers would predict how they should serve the humans, and this would require new rules about our relationship with machines. Overall, the report specifically looks at how the development of technologies over the next decade can better reflect human values.

“It is about how we anticipate the uses of technology rather than being reactive. Currently the human is not considered part of the process,” BBC quoted Bill Buxton, from Microsoft Research, as saying.

In fact, scientists have already taken steps towards getting nearer to machines, and at the launch of the report, many of them displayed the types of technologies that could bring the human back into the equation.

Professor Bill Gaver and his team at Goldsmiths College have developed a Drift table that may enable people to view aerial photography of their local neighbourhood and beyond.

“It isn’t really designed for anything. People can use it for entertainment or learning. One of the people that was given the table used to check out houses in Southampton following a piece on the news about house prices going up in the area. Someone else used it to look at the towns they lived in as a child or to visit towns where friends lived,” explained Prof Gaver.

Also displayed at the launch was the Whereabouts Clock, an interface designed at Microsoft’s research labs in Cambridge, and would make it possible for family members to see where each other are at any point of time. Microsoft is working on many other communication devices for the home that include Epigraph, an interface that allows family members to ‘post’ pictures and messages to each other via their mobile phones.

Not only this, the keyboard, mouse and monitor may also be replaced by more advanced forms of interaction and display, including tablet computers, speech recognition systems and fingertip-operated surfaces.

With such advances, the Microsoft HCI report indicates that though, paper would exist in 2020, but there may be a possibility of having social network magazines made of digital paper, that update in real time. With digital storage of even more aspects of our lives, from mobile phone calls to CCTV footage, with an omnipresent network the HCI community will not compromise on privacy.

However, the report points out that this association might act as a double-edged sword. Not only this ever-present network will bring to us mass market information directly, but would also disseminate our own intimate information. And this might lead to an era of “techno-dependency”.

“Without proper consideration and control it is possible that we - both individually and collectively - may no longer be in control of ourselves or the world around us,” warned the report.

The report further said: “Not just teaching children about how computers and applications work, but about their wider impact. (ANI)

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