Changing Human Behavior


In my last essay, I finished by wondering what’s next. This question is bothering/concerning a lot of people. In my case, I have been struggling with the changes in recorded music for several years. My wife and I began with 331/3 records which played up to 45 minutes of music on two sides. This was successor to the 78 rpm records that played about 4 minutes per side. Then, the 331/3 record was succeeded by compact cassette tape with about the same amount of time. Tape was succeeded by compact discs with up to 80 minutes of recorded time. All of these media still work, but have mostly been replaced by digital format, which is even less understandable to me than the previous media. Unlike automobiles, recording music has moved through completely different formats and playing machines.

Making automobiles that don’t need human control for some of their actions is simply one aspect of changing interaction between machines and humans. What is making this possible is computer programming which is coming closer to recognizing a particular human voice as a control of technology. And, driving new autos involves using computerized help. Like automobiles, playing recorded music can now be managed by computer. But, unlike automobiles, recorded music is no longer played by machines devoted directly to it.

Computers, like the first one I used with a colleague at GW, were of large, standup size and physically connected to several working stations. You had to develop a program to use it and then there was not much the uninitiated could do with it (and this was in the mid 1980s). Developers gave us a continuing array of smaller and more capable machines. With the development of the internet, computers moved on to the knowledge machines we now use.

However, development is not over. Voice operated computer service is being developed. It is in a relatively primitive stage, but its hands free, voice operated system of communication continues the trend of less physical action in our daily lives. Change increases as one builds on another, and poses the question about how humans will participate in our social and economic life. (Just watch people using cell phones everywhere to realize how we are reducing physical human interaction.)

  1. #1 by Marvin Mostow on March 13, 2017 - 8:22 pm

    I often feel like a dinosaur. As soon as I master something, it seems it is obsolete and a new and improved something comes out. The idea that you can walk into a room and tell some gadget to turn on the lights seems strange and ridiculous. Is this needed? And self-driving cars are scary. I worry about cars with some drivers, but I really worry about car’s with no drivers. I think I am going to be ostrich type of dinosaur.

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