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FleshFactor: Humans as Machines (HaM)

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

Mark Weiser wrote:

"The machine as "predictable and reducible" is simply a literary
 construct, applicable to very few real machines. I think Dennett meant
 real machines, not literary ones."

We (humans) design and build machines - we KNOW how they are made and
constructed and therefore can understand and predict their behaviour - we
even have a good idea of what might be wrong with them when they do not
function as predicted.  All constructed machines are real machines as they
have designs (be it described literary or graphic). 

M.W.  "... Brown's argument is again consistent with people being machines
 -- and I thank him for the many good examples of how this is so.." 

Hardly!  It's all down to definitions, ideologies and belief systems.  The
Quantum/Godel approach was meant to show that there are limits to our
rational/scientific ability to understand and predict the "real world". I
am happier to believe that we are limited in our ability to comprehend
"reality".  Perhaps simplistically I define a machine as having a
human-made design - we are not machines by this definition.

Can some one please explain to me the benefits of the Human as Machine
(HaM) ideology?  I can see only negative associations: Humans as
disposable/recylable/repairable units measurable as to worth
(effectiveness/efficiency).  Humans as ultimately understandable (as only
machines can be)... 

Or am I missing some great insight here?

Richard Brown

Research Fellow,
Royal College of Art,
Kensington Gore,
London SW7 2EU.

Tel: 0171 590 4296 (direct line)
Fax: 0171 590 4290


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