We Shall Rise

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I found Clive Thompson’s Smarter Than You Think to support the study of the humanities. Our society has been experiencing a boom in technology and we have needed a labor force that was trained to create this resource. So there’s been a push towards STEM education, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. And now we’ve reached a point where computers far surpass human abilities in logic and pattern finding. For example, “if you go eight moves out in a game of chess, there are more possible games than there are stars in our galaxy”(3) a feat Thompson says is a common practice for computers and essentially impossible for a human mind. We can’t think like them. Or at least we can’t be as good at it. So why strive to replicate a process in which we can never excel? They have the ability to calculate and memorize far beyond that of a human mind. The way that technology is developing we will reach a certain point where computers are so prevalent that we will have outsourced careers in many STEM areas simply because computers can do it better.


Thompson’s “’extended mind’ theory of cognition argues that the reason humans are so intellectually dominant is that we’ve always outsourced bits of cognition, using tools to scaffold our thinking into ever-more-rarified realms” (6). The growth of technology to encompass previously human jobs is a natural extension.


Kasparov makes the point that “human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming”(5), that the combination of computer and human is smarter. This occurs not when we try to replicate the process of computers but rather use our unique abilities of creativity and strategy. In Thompsons imagined future the strongest intellectual force is the human mind in conjunction with the logical prowess of the computer. There will be a new shift in our society where we need to start cultivating the humanities to best prepare for a newly functioning society.

So now it’s time to think out of the box.


tpom13's picture

I really enjoyed reading your

I really enjoyed reading your blog. The beginning made the argument about how much computers can accomplish that human's can't normally. But the end made the point that even with all the computer's powers cannot counter a human intelligence, and the combination of the two is one of the greatest collaborations. I really enjoyed your pictures, they were pretty funny.

Nice work!


Gavin Oliver's picture

I enjoyed your post, as well.

I enjoyed your post, as well. It brings into focus the collaboration of humans and computers, and the revolutionary gains the tandem could accomplish in years to come as technology advances. Humans and computers have proven effective working together, with each having strengths able to account for the other's shortcomings.