CS299-001 Spring 2010

The Next 5,000 Days of the Internet

by zappull_jose on Apr.20, 2010, under Uncategorized

One of the most interesting quotes in Kevin Kelly’s TED speech entitled “The Next 5,000 days of the Internet” was when Kelly says, “Humans are the extended senses of the machines”. In the days before the internet, machines were the extended senses of humans. Humans depend less on memorization when simply they can Google the information they need (also as seen in class with WolframAlpha).

What, in your opinion does the quote “Humans are the extended senses of the machines” mean to you? Can you give an example of a website that fits this quote?

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6 comments for this entry:
  1. Artese_Anth

    For me, the quote, “Humans are the extended senses of the machines” means that as a society we are becoming more and more dependent on technology whether it is a device, or internet service. Before machines served as extended senses of humans because the machines enhanced the ability for the human to complete a task. For example, a steam powered machine can make digging houses foundation much easier compared to if the human had done it with a shovel. Therefore, the machine was an extended sense or medium for the human to complete a task. With web 2.0, and soon the semantic web, this relationship will flip flop. The machine (semantic web) will still make our lives easier through the extension of our senses but humans will collectively extend the senses of machines by enhancing its knowledge in the cloud. Every human input or interaction on the web will effectively be an extension of the machines senses by making it smarter, more comprehensive, and giving it more ways to make intelligent connections between different objects or things.
    I think a good way to look at this flip flop in relationships between humans and machines is by looking at the old saying, “Think before you speak.” This was in the old days when machines where an extension of our senses but did not really place any role on our decision making process. However, a new trend is starting that can be summarized by “Google before you tweet.” This may seem ridiculous but on a day to day basis I find myself doing Google searches on topics before I decide to discuss or even tweet about them. This is characteristic of the change to humans being extended senses of the machines because every topic searched in Google, every tweet, and every single post to the web adds to the collective intelligence of the machine. This posting and gathering of content by the machine is basically the same thing as a human’s sense gathering information for the brain to process. In summary, humans really are becoming the extended senses of the machine due to how we are constantly feeding it mass amounts of information.

  2. Courtney Gallagher

    “Humans are the extended sense of machines.”

    Developed societies have become so dependent on computers that we couldn’t imagine a world without them. As technology emerges and our lives become easier as a result, we are asked to do less and think less to accomplish what we’re trying to do. Applications online do almost everything we can imagine; just like Apple says, “there’s an app for everything.” So we are beginning to see ourselves step into the era where humans have become the extended sense of machines. The power and intelligence is no longer coming only from humans, the computer is doing the work for us. Our simple task is to decide how to use the resources and information that is readily available to us on the Web whenever we need it. When we ask Google or Bing to do a search for us, we get an answer in about .3 seconds. Using Web 2.0 searching sites like Freebase which takes a database perspective, sorting and sifting through data just got even easier. Freebase has taken away the human job of sorting through information to find articles about a specific topic within a broader topic. With each new and innovative development that strengthens our dependence on computers, the idea that “humans are an extended sense of computers” will become more of a reality.

  3. Fred

    Our senses help us learn and grow through experience. You don’t touch a hot stove because the first time you did it you felt pain. You get better sports or hobbies by repetition and practice so it becomes second nature. In the same way, the internet is using all interactions and activities that people perform on the machine as senses and it is effectively “learning”. Most of the world is not yet connected which is why the internet is and has been growing geometrically rather than linearly. The more traffic that uses the web, the “smarter” the web gets. Since there is essentially an endless amount of information that can be stored in the cloud, there is infinite potential on how smart the web could get. The next 5,000 days might be the beginning of web 3.0 but the next 25,000 days have the potential to be web 12.0 15.0 or even 20.0. As long as the machine’s senses stay active and continue to contribute to its growth.

  4. Elena Berezovsky

    Before internet and web 1.0 the machines depended on humans. When the first computers were introduced in order to get them to work, a user would have to insert different data cards into the machine for the computer to produce anything. Now with the world of Web 2.0 we no longer have to give the machines anything to make them work or retrieve desired information. Inversely, the machines have become the ones that “make orders” and we take those orders and bring them into human society. Rather than machines depending on us, we have now become reliant on machines for various things such as information, news, and events.

    One great example of this is the website Facebook. How many of your friends birthdays can you honestly say you retain in your memory? Facebook provides us with that information that we then use to remind on to say Happy Birthday. Instead of presenting this information to the internet, the internet presents this to us in which we use to send a text or give a call. Our friends are happy and we have been given the reminder to make them happy. This reminder has come to us from the machines that we depend on, although gathered from user input, and allows us to use it’s information for our purposes.

  5. chow_kyso

    Back then, computers were able to run simple calculations and programs, and we thought THAT was amazing. Machines were the extended senses of humans. Their uses were limited since they had not advanced in technology enough to be able to do the things they can do today. We still had to do many things by hand and that took time.

    Kevin Kelly’s quote “Humans are the extended senses of the machines” reminds me of my old teacher in high school calling computers “stupid.”
    Computers don’t know how randomly pick a name from a list of names. You have to write program code that does it and execute it through softwares that can read and run the code. Computers don’t know how to arrange your bookmarks into specific folders that you created; you have to tell it to save bookmarks in the specific folder. Also, someone had to write the code to show the computer how to save the URL and title of the website.
    Computers don’t know how to do anything; it is the humans that have the logic to create applications that can do things like logging the location of someone’s tweet on a GPS. Computers provide the platform and has the ability to do anything; it just doesn’t know how to do it. We show the machines how to do things. That is why humans are the extended senses of the machines. Machines provide us a platform and give us the ability to create applications and programs of limitless uses. The machines’ thoughts basically say: “We don’t know how to do it, but we can provide you the tools to create an application that can do it.”

    An example of this is the software Eclipse. In Eclipse you are able to write code in Java that can do limitless things. Some examples include selecting random first names and last names from a document and putting them together, calculating the averages of a set of grades, and generating a random date between a given range. Eclipse provides the code and ability to compile/execute it, and we tell Eclipse how to do something in code.

  6. susienk_jose

    The quote “Humans are the extended senses of the machines” refers to how computers are getting smarter. They are almost able to think for themselves. This goes back to the reference of computers acting like human beings. In their infancy they relied on humans for everything and now s they are maturing they are capable of doing more things. The computer is becoming a place that holds a lot of information and the human just needs to ask it. In this sense the computer is just relying on us to relate the information and it will be able to process it. Instead of the computers relying on us we are relying on them.
    An example of a website that utilizes humans being the extended senses of machines is Amazon’s mechanical Turk. This is where you get paid to process tasks that a computer cannot process yet. In sense you are building its memory. One of the turks will show a picture and then you identify what is in the picture using multiple tags. This is making it so that hopefully it will be able to identify that object on its own later on.

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