The University of Sussex

The meeting of man and machine

Margaret A. Boden

The task of improving the relationship between man and computer can be conceptualized at two different levels, each of which has practical importance in a society wherein computers are in constant use outside research laboratories. On the one hand, we can design "friendly" programs for the public domain, programs which non- specialists will find easy, and even pleasant, to use. So we can ask, for example, how the comprehensibility, flexibility, and modifiability of specific systems can be increased. On the other hand, we can concern ourselves with the general image in the public's mind of man and computer, and of the relation between them. Is a meeting between man and machine likely to be dehumanizing, in respect of how people think about themselves and their fellows?


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