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Date: 25 May 2018
U of N Reported Impact of Human Values to the Enlargement of Innovative Computer Technology  

Topic Name: U of N Reported Impact of Human Values to the Enlargement of Innovative Computer Technology
Category: Computer science & technology
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Research persons: Prof Tom Rodden

Location: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom


U of N Reported Impact of Human Values to the Enlargement of Innovative Computer Technology

Emerging computer technologies will change our lives for the
better by 2020. But we need to retain control to ensure that these developments
do not impact negatively on basic human values, according to a new report
co-edited by a University
of Nottingham

Advances in interfaces — the physical way we react with
computers — and other techniques of controlling computers will supplement the
role of the traditional keyboard and mouse. Technologies in development include
surfaces that allow fingertip control of on-screen objects and devices that
sense — and react to — movement.

But we should assess human-computer interaction (HCI) to
ensure that we retain control of key decision-making processes, Being human:
human-computer interaction in the year 2020 suggests. The report details the
findings of a Microsoft-hosted conference held in March 2007, which brought
together HCI experts from across the world.

Display technologies will soon allow us to embed screens of
all sizes in a variety of fabrics. In 2020 we will still be reading paper books
and magazines; but we'll also be using paper-like digital screens to distribute
content. For example, “paper” used in books and magazines may be digitised on
foldable screens we can put in our pockets; and our clothing may be capable of
performing health diagnostics.

Cheap and easily-accessed digital storage allows consumers to
electronically record and store more aspects of our lives — allowing us to share
information and interact with people across the globe. This hyperconnectivity
liberates us from fixed telephone lines, desks and offices, while advances in
robotics develop the computer's ability to learn and make decisions.

“New computing technology is tremendously exciting,” said Tom
Rodden, Professor of Interactive Systems at The University of Nottingham. “But
the interaction between humans and computers is evolving into a complex
ecosystem where small changes can have far-reaching consequences. While new
interfaces and hyperconnectivity mean we are increasingly mobile, we can see
that they are blurring the line between work and personal space.

“Huge storage capabilities raise fundamental privacy issues
around what we should be recording and what we should not. The potential of
machine learning might well result in computers increasingly making decisions on
our behalf. It is imperative that we combine technological innovations with an
understanding of their impact on people.”

The report argues that without proper monitoring and
assessment it is possible that we — both individually and collectively — may no
longer be in control of ourselves or the world around us. This potentially
places the computer on a collision course with basic human values and concepts
such as personal space, society, identity, independence, perception,
intelligence and privacy.

The report gives recommendations for the HCI community to
adopt to ensure that human values inform future development. These include
educating young people so that they understand HCI and the impact of computer
advances early on; to engage with governments, policy-makers and society as a
whole to provide counsel and give advance warning of the emerging implications
of new computing ecosystems; to set the boundaries of HCI's remit and recognise
when specialists from other disciplines (eg, psychology, sociology and the arts)
offer more insightful perspectives; and to recognise the need for other
disciplines to be part of the research community inventing these systems.

“Computers have shaped so many aspects of the modern world
that we wanted to explore how today's emerging technologies might shape our
lives in 2020,” said Abigail Sellen, senior researcher at
and one of the editors of the report. “Computing has the potential to
enhance the lives of billions of people around the world. We believe that if
technology is to truly bring benefit to humanity, then human values and the
impact of technology must be considered at the earliest possible opportunity in
the technology design process.

“This report makes important recommendations that will help
us to decide collectively when, how, why and where technology impacts upon
humanity, rather than reacting to unforeseen change. The final recommendation is
something towards which we should all aspire: by 2020 HCI will be able to design
for and support differences in human value, irrespective of the economic means
of those seeking those values. In this way, the future can be different and
diverse because people want it to be.”

Note for Human–Computer Interaction
Human–computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between people
(users) and computers. It is often regarded as the intersection of computer
science, behavioral sciences, design and several other fields of study.
Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply
interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example,
general-purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems, such as
aircraft and power plants. The following definition is given by the Association
for Computing Machinery:

"Human-computer interaction is a discipline concerned with the design,
evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and
with the study of major phenomena surrounding them."
Because human-computer interaction studies a human and a machine in conjunction,
it draws from supporting knowledge on both the machine and the human side. On
the machine side, techniques in computer graphics, operating systems,
programming languages, and development environments are relevant. On the human
side, communication theory, graphic and industrial design disciplines,
linguistics, social sciences, cognitive psychology, and human performance are
relevant. And, of course, engineering and design methods are relevant.
HCI is also sometimes referred to as man–machine interaction (MMI) or
computer–human interaction (CHI).

A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interactions between users and computers
by making computers more usable and receptive to the user's needs. Specifically,
HCI is concerned with:

  • methodologies and processes for designing interfaces
    (i.e., given a task and a class of users, design the best possible interface
    within given constraints, optimizing for a desired property such as
    learnability or efficiency of use)

  • methods for implementing interfaces (e.g. software
    toolkits and libraries; efficient algorithms)

  • techniques for evaluating and comparing interfaces

  • developing new interfaces and interaction techniques

  • developing descriptive and predictive models and theories
    of interaction

  • A long term goal of HCI is to design systems that
    minimize the barrier between the human's cognitive model of what they want
    to accomplish and the computer's understanding of the user's task.

Professional practitioners in HCI are usually designers
concerned with the practical application of design methodologies to real-world
problems. Their work often revolves around designing graphical user interfaces
and web interfaces.

Researchers in HCI are interested in developing new design methodologies,
experimenting with new hardware devices, prototyping new software systems,
exploring new paradigms for interaction, and developing models and theories of

HCI differs with human factors in that there is more of a focus on users working
with computers rather than other kinds of machines or designed artifacts, and an
additional focus on how to implement the (software and hardware) mechanisms
behind computers to support human-computer interaction. HCI also differs with
ergonomics in that there is less of a focus on repetitive work-oriented tasks
and procedures, and much less emphasis on physical stress and the physical form
or industrial design of physical aspects of the user interface, such as the
physical form of keyboards and mice.

Note for Decision Making
Decision making can be regarded as an outcome of mental processes (cognitive
process) leading to the selection of a course of action among several
alternatives. Every decision making process produces a final choice. The output
can be an action or an opinion.

Human performance in decision making terms has been subject of active research
from several perspectives. From a psychological perspective, it is necessary to
examine individual decisions in the context of a set of needs, preferences an
individual has and values he/she seeks. From a cognitive perspective, the
decision making process must be regarded as a continuous process integrated in
the interaction with the environment. From a normative perspective, the analysis
of individual decisions is concerned with the logic of decision making and
rationality and the invariant choice it leads to.

Yet, at another level, it might be regarded as a problem solving activity which
is terminated when a satisfactory solution is found. Therefore, decision making
is a reasoning or emotional process which can be rational or irrational, can be
based on explicit assumptions or tacit assumptions.

Decision making is said to have an intentional component. This means that
although we can never "see" a decision, we can infer from observable behaviour
that a decision has been made to act in a particular way. Therefore, we conclude
that a psychological event that we call "decision making" has occurred. It is a
construction that imputes commitment to action. That is, based on observable
actions, we assume that people have made a commitment to affect the particular

Logical decision making is an important part of all science-based professions,
where specialists apply their knowledge in a given area to making informed
decisions. For example, medical decision making often involves making a
diagnosis and selecting an appropriate treatment. Some research using
naturalistic methods shows, however, that in situations with higher time
pressure, higher stakes, or increased ambiguities, experts use intuitive
decision making rather than structured approaches, following a recognition
primed decision approach to fit a set of indicators into the expert's experience
and immediately arrive at a satisfactory course of action without weighing
alternatives. Also, recent robust decision efforts have formally integrated
uncertainty into the decision making process.

According to behavioralist Isabel Briggs Myers, a person's decision making
process depends on a significant degree on their cognitive style. Myers
developed a set of four bi-polar dimensions, called the Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator (MBTI). The terminal points on these dimensions are: thinking and
feeling; extroversion and introversion; judgement and perception; and sensing
and intuition. She claimed that a person's decision making style is based
largely on how they score on these four dimensions. For example, someone who
scored near the thinking, extroversion, sensing, and judgement ends of the
dimensions would tend to have a logical, analytical, objective, critical, and
empirical decision making style.

Note for Hyperconnectivity
Hyperconnectivity is a term invented by Canadian social scientists Anabel
Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman, arising from their studies of person-to-person and
person-to-machine communication in networked organizations and networked
societies. The term refers to the use of multiple means of communication, such
as email, instant messaging, telephone, face-to-face contact and Web 2.0
information services.

Hyperconnectivity is also a trend in computer networking in which all things
that can or should communicate through the network will communicate through the
network. This encompasses person-to-person, person-to-machine and
machine-to-machine communication. The trend is fueling large increases in
bandwidth demand and changes in communications because of the complexity,
diversity and integration of new applications and devices using the network.

The Canadian communications equipment vendor Nortel (TSX, NYSE:NT)has recognized
Hyperconnectivity as a pervasive and growing market condition that is at the
core of their business strategy. CEO Mike Zafirovski and other executives have
been quoted extensively in the press referring to the hyperconnected era.

Apart from network-connected devices such as landline telephones, mobile phones
and computers, newly-connectable devices range from mobile devices such as PDAs,
MP3 players, GPS receivers and cameras through to an ever wider collection of
machines including cars refrigerators and coffee makers, all equipped with
embedded wireline or wireless networking capabilities. The IP enablement of all
devices is a fundmental limitation of IP version 4, and IPv6 is the enabling
technology to support massive address explosions.

Some examples to support the existence of this accelerating market trend include
the following facts and assertions:

  • About 2.8 billion mobile phones are already in use with
    another 1.6 million being added every day (The Economist, April 28, 2007)

  • The network will need to accommodate a trillion devices,
    most of them wireless, in the next 15-20 years' time (David Clark, MIT)

  • Sales of wireless modules for devices, sensors and
    machines this year (2007) are forecast to reach $33 million and grow rapidly
    to $400 million by 2011 (Harbor Research)

  • Last year 1 billion RFID chips were sold. This year
    (2007), the number may rise to $1.7B (IDTechEx)

  • Already, tens of billions of e-mails, mobile text
    messages and instant messages are being sent through the world's public
    networks each day (The Economist, April 28, 2007)

  • Each CDMA mobile phone communicates with a cell tower 800
    times a second just for its power management (The Economist, April 28, 2007)

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