Partners in Cognition: Extending Human Intelligence with Intelligent Technologies - by G. Salomon D. N. Perkins and T. Globerson 2016 - Article review

This document contains article review "Partners in Cognition: Extending Human Intelligence with Intelligent Technologies" by by G. Salomon D. N. Perkins and T. Globerson written in 2016
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People have been making machines more "intelligent."
Can machines make people more intelligent?
These two sentences should be modified as:
The machines them self don't make people more intelligent. The fact that people improve machines, makes these people more intelligent.
Hwever that does not mean that these machines become intelligent.
More specifically, with the increasing use of intelligent computer programs, tools, and related technologies in education, it may be an opportune time to ask whether they have any effect on students' intellectual performance and ability.
The words: "intelligent computer programs" should be changed to : "more powerfull computer programs".
The answer on the final question is simply: Yes
Two points need to be noted at the outset. First, by intelligent technologies we do not necessarily mean artificial intelligence.
The words "intelligent technologies" should not be used at the outset. First we need to dicuss the meaning of the word intelligent and what defines intelegence between people.
Many technologies that would not be considered instances of artificial intelligence are intelligent technologies in our sense.
The ordinary hand calculator is an example.
The hand calculator is not an intelligent technologies
The same with abacus.
Although not artificially intelligent, it undertakes significant cognitive processing on behalf of the user and thus is a partner in what Pea (1989) has come to call "distributed intelligence."
My understanding of "cognitive processing" is "intellectual processing"
With that defintion, it is true that to use a calculator requires a certain effort or intelligence by the user, but that does not mean that the calculator is intelligent or is your partner.
With these points in mind, we turn to the influence of intelligent technologies on human intellectual performance and ability.
It is stil not clear why the word intelligent is used.
We notice that cognitive effects with computer tools greatly depend on the mindful engagement of learners in the tasks afforded by these tools and that there is the possibility of qualitatively upgrading the performance of the joint system of learner plus technology.
This is a rather theoretical sentence. Using any tool in our manual or mental activities improves our capabilities, but that does not mean that you become more intelligent. To improve intelligence requires learning. Tools don't learn.

1. Effects with Versus of Intelligent Technology

With intelligent technologies becoming prominent, it has not taken long for questions to arise about their impact on human thinking and learning. But the question has not always been clearly asked.
There, and in many other cases, working with an intelligent tool has effects on what students do, how well they do it, and when it is done (Pea, 1985). We shall refer to such potential effects as effects with the technology.
The only tools which can be identified as high-technological tools are robots or robotics-skeletons specific if they are equipped with sensors. High-technological tools are structural different as human intellectual. People working with these HT tools will be affected by and vice versa. These effects on humans are only in the opperating sense and not in the intellectual sense.
Another meaning of "effect" concerns relatively lasting changes in students' general cognitive capacities in consequence of interaction with an intelligent technology.
You can only learn something if the specific tool used is specific designed for teaching.
For another illustration, consider the possible impact of a truly intelligent word processor: On the one hand, students might write better while writing with it; on the other hand, writing with such an intelligent word processor might teach students principles about the craft of writing that they could apply widely when writing with only a simple word processor; this suggests effects of it.
I prove my writing skill by means of a weekly newsletter: "Business Writing." The tips are very handy, but it is wrong to call this newsletter: intelligent. All the intellence lies within the redaction.

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2. Effects with Technology: Intellectual Partnership

Technologies can be divided roughly into two classes, in terms of their afforded use: machines that work for us and tools with which we work (Ellul, 1964).
We can work without machines, but machines can never work without us.
The partnership with computer tools entails the three major ingredients one finds in human partnership: (a) a complementary division of labor that (b) becomes interdependent and that (c) develops over time.
In a true business partnership one can not triompf without the other, because each has its own knowledge, experience and inputs and outputs.
With such examples on hand, it makes sense to call computer tools that offer an intellectual partnership cognitive tools (Pea, 1985) or technologies of the mind
Whats in the name?

2.1. The Role of Mindful Engagement

Unfortunately, any partnership requires effort, and intellectual partnerships between humans and technology are no exception.
If you want to learn how to use any tool, requires effort.

2.2. The Question of Ability

Usually we view ability, regardles of definition, as the potential of a person's mind, the property of the individual.
From a systemic point of view what counts is the overall level of performance of the system, not of the individual in it; ability is treated as the joint product of person and computer tool.
But this is true for any tool. When a researcher uses a microscope the quality of his research improves; the measurements become more accurate.
The question of how to define ability can thus receive two answers.
One answer adopts the systemic approach, appraising the products of the joint abilities of person and tool.
The other answer adopts the analytic approach, appraising the kinds of mental activities contributed by the individual operating in partnership with the intelligent tool.
The importance is the ability or capability of the whole system.

3. Effects of Technology: Attaining Cognitive Residue

Accordingly, the impact of a technology is as much a concern as performance with it.
First comes the performance (local) , second the impact (global)
Students should not only become better writers when equipped with an intelligent writing tool or idea generator; they should also become better able to write when using no more than a simple word processor that provides no intelligent guidance or even when writing with only pencil and paper.
Students should try to do as much possible by them self related to the subject they write about.

3.1. Intelligent Technologies and the Question of Transfer

Regarding "old" technologies, the case is not easy to make. These technologies—writing, television, and so on—are so widespread and their presence so correlated with other sociological factors that experimental manipulations are hard to mount, and reasonably clean "natural experiments" hard to find.
Although effects of technology are difficult to assess in the case of older technologies, the new intelligent technologies offer more promising prospects.
These findings suggest that "Is there a cognitive effect of technology?" may be the wrong question to ask when one is seeking transfer in school settings: The needed mindful abstraction is not likely to occur spontaneously
One might better ask, "Can a cognitive effect of technology be 'engineered' by designing the technology, the activity, and the setting to foster mindful abstraction of thinking skills and strategies?"

4. The Wider Context of Technology's Effects

The initial question—does computer technology have any effect on students' intellectual performance and ability—has now been reframed
First, we differentiated between effects with and effects of computer tools, a contrast that can better focus research questions, as well as challenge our notions about human ability
Second, we examined the preconditions for positive effects with and ofan intelligent technology, for example, the importance of mindful engagement and reflective abstraction.

4.1. The Normative Context

If positive effects of intelligent technology are possible, what about negative ones? March. (1987) speaks of "deskilling," which results from work with intelligent tools that numb, so to speak, certain skills needed before but not with the tool.
This is the first intelligent question. This is like using a route planer on a screen and not knowing where you are on a map.
However, returning to an issue discussed earlier, what if an expert system becomes so intelligent as to numb physicians' own diagnostic skills?
Any physician should stay at level with the current state of the art. This is a general problem and not specific related experts systems.
To stay ahead requires education and often investments, which can be expensive.
What if, indeed, human diagnostic abilities give way to a mechanical facility in operating black-box expert systems?
New technological tools should never become a black box. The physician, I assume, should be trained to use these tools. Secondly the physician should understand the functionality and the final results such that he can discuss these results with the patient and discuss the future, specific if the results not are what we hoped.
If a tool becomes like a black box the physician can never have any responsibility.

4.2. The Theoretical Context

If you have a technology, as H. Simon (1987) has observed, you are likely to use it
And with this initial use, old activities might become redefined (e.g., writing with a word processor), new activities emerge (e.g., programming), and the roles for the intellect become changed (e.g., from "knowledge" as possession to "knowledge" as an activity denoting retrieval from data bases).
Programming can become Configuration. Knowledge can become Searching for knowledge. But that is often not simple.

4.2. The Practical Context

This leads us to a brief discussion of the practical contexts in which technology may affect minds. In light of our discussion of the theoretical context, it becomes apparent that profound effects of intelligent technology on minds can take place only when major changes in the culture take place as well.
This requires more thought. The most important consequence of the internet is that we can retrieve data from all over the world instantaneous. That is important. But this has nothing to do with our mind nor with culture. The most important influence is that we can become overwelmed.

5. Conclusion

In this age of making machines more intelligent, we began by asking whether machines can make people more intelligent. The answer we suggest is yes, and in more than one way.
The logic works in a different way. By improving the quality of the tools we use, we can improve the accuracy of the experiments we do, we learn and give better advice what to do next. As a result we also can improve the accuracy of the tools we use.
The center of this upward spiral are humans and not the tools. The center is human intelligence
Accordingly, to make the most of the opportunity, a partnership is required not only between people and machines but among people of different expertise.
The most important point is partnership between people of different expertise.

Reflection 1 - General

The article "Partners in Cognition: Extending Human Intelligence with Intelligent Technologies" gives the impression that there are Intelligent Technologies. That is misleading.
We humans, we can be called intelligent. Some more, some less. We have a mind and we can think. We have a feeling that there exists something we called time. There exists a present, in books and magazines we know what happend in the past and we know when we fall asleep, that to morrow the sun will shine again.
A computer, which is an electrical machine, which can perform calculations, but has none of these particular human characteristics. It is very clever, human made, but it can not be called intelligent, in the same sense as humans can think. In fact it can only execute and perform the calculations as layed out in the program. But even more the program is designed by a programmer or team, never being more capable as its designers. The program, as claimed, requires training, but this training involves to calculate the parameters to reach the required output. The consequence is that the total accountability or responsability lies with the designers, including all possible errors.
A human can read a book and a computer can read the same book. Just by listening it is impossible to decide if the computer could be the author.
Aristotle wrote the book 'Ethics' based on a careful observation of life and a genuine understanding of human nature. He wrote the sentence "Moral conduct implies choice, but what is choice? It must be distinquised from desire, temper, wish and opinion" Is it possible to write a computer program, which as input uses the same information as Aristotles observed and obtained during his discussions and as output produces the above sentence? But not only that sentence, but also a clear definition what each of the concepts desire, temper, wish and opinion mean. I don't think so.
The same can be said about the article: "Partners in Cognition: Extending Human Intelligence with Intelligent Technologies". Can that be written by a computer? I don't think so.

Reflection 2 - Intelligence

In this document the word intelligence and intellectual is often used.
Both are typical human concepts. Tools are never intellectual. They are designed by humans and they reflect the intellect of humans.
Human communication normally goes via human language, and the level of expression involves subtlety. Communication between people is often difficult and start with the requirement that they agree with the definition what each word means and the subttle differences between words which have an almost identical meaning. Next they should agree about concepts and laws. Next we can start with the discussion about new issues
The communication between programmes inside a computer goes with numbers. To mix both is very difficult. To have any discussion with a computer about a new issue seems very difficult. You must be convinced that the computer understands both issues.

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Created: 28 March 2023

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