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Topic: Robo-dilemma
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jan 16, 1995 12:31 PM

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 Edward S. Miller Posts: 15 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Robo-dilemma
Posted: Jan 16, 1995 12:31 PM

On Mon, 16 Jan 1995, MADD wrote, in part:

> It is very irresponsible to rely on the computer so much that it
> should in any way do the thinking for the human. Calculations, yes,
> why not, but only if the user knows exactly what's going on.
> Calculations might be taken in a little broader sense, they can be
> very complicated, so to the simpleminded they might seem as
> thinking, but it shouldn't be allowed that the level of complicity
> of calculations overcomes the user. If it does, more likely than not
> the user will make missteps, often disastrous, needless to say.

Yes! Bravo! I couldn't agree more. After months of discussion of
theory, I think this hits the technology question square on the head.
(Please excuse the unclear mixed metaphor.)

I spend one (1) class period showing my students how to make the computer
do things. I spend the other 59 showing them when and why they want to
do calculation by machine or by hand. I also show them what not to do,
to the very best of my abilities. After I am satisfied that the students
understand the calculation part well enough to perform at a moderate
difficulty level, they are free to compute to their hearts content.

> The general belief that one can drive well without knowing what's in
> the automobile is, in my opinion, a nonsense hidden behind what's
> normally done. (That something's usual or widespread doesn't mean
> it's intelligent. The trueness of the contrary comes to mind more
> easily.) Driving obliviously of what you drive is not very far from
> driving blindfolded. That kind of driving can be exercised by one
> indeterminately, until on an occasion, driving downhill a steep
> alpine road in cheerful ignorance of the intricate characteristics of
> the braking system, one kills an impressive number of people.

And here is where my agreement with Darko ends. It is not the basic
principle of knowing what is in your car that bothers me; I have a
cousin who seized the engine of his car by not changing the oil for about
30,000 miles. It is the depth of understanding which I question. Need
we teach a driver how a braking system is constructed, or is it
sufficient to teach the driver how to employ the brakes to successfully
stop the car under a broad range of driving conditions? I must admit
that I believe solidly in the latter. It is also important to teach
things like for all practical purposes, brakes *don't* work on ice.

I almost forgot. Having an anti-lock braking systems does not relieve
the driver of the responsibility of driving safely. It just helps stop a
little quicker with a little more control under most conditions.

--Ed

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Edward S. Miller edmiller@lcsc.edu

Division of Natural Sciences VOICE 208-799-2810
Lewis-Clark State College FAX 208-799-2064
500 8th Avenue
Lewiston ID 83501-2698 USA
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