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Do we rely on computers too much?

  1. Oct 11, 2003 #1
    Do you think we rely on computers to do too much for us. Remember the Y2K scare, when wackos thought the world would end when all the computers shut down? The problem was averted, but the question remains.

    I am espescially interested in hearing younger posters feelings as opposed to those of older posters.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2003 #2
    I will quite simply say "yes" to that, theres just no doubt about it.
  4. Oct 11, 2003 #3


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    I'll say we don't rely on computers enough!

    But more importantly, I don't think the population in general understands computers enough.
  5. Oct 11, 2003 #4
    What about when kids stop learning the basics of math and just crunch numbers on a calculator?
  6. Oct 11, 2003 #5


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    What about it?

    (Note: I'm not condoning the possibility, but I think you're sensationalizing)
  7. Oct 12, 2003 #6


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    That is almost exactly what my first reaction was to the title of the thread.
    They won't. Thats just not relevant to the question.

    I spent a month in calculus class learning to differentiate using limits and let me tell you, I was PISSED when I first learned the chain rule. But just because the chain rule is easier doesn't mean that they are going to stop teaching the long way first.
  8. Oct 12, 2003 #7
    I disagree. I think the population in general understands computers more than they used to, but certainly not enough. Imo, treatment of computer-related issues like the DMCA, p2p, IP, internet law/regulation, etc. by the powers-that-be and the uninformed laymen show that they only acknowledge computers, and perhaps understand them somewhat superficially.

    Besides, how can you say the general population understands computers enough when this sort of thing happens? :wink:

    Calculators - so the kids aren't coached to crunch numbers in their heads, but they're definitely shown the process behind the buttons. Personally, I think it'd be good to have a "sharp-minded" population that can count mentally (and who can use calculators/computers proficiently when they can be beneficial), but I suppose educators have better things to waste their time on...
  9. Oct 12, 2003 #8
    Yes they do, its called giving out detentions :P
  10. Oct 12, 2003 #9


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    abhishek, I'm confused. Don't feel bad, I woke up too early, maybe its me.

    How do you disagree. You start out by stating you are in disagreement, but then make almost an identical statement to that of Hurkyl's.

    And no, the population IMO is getting worse and worse as computers get more "User Friendly". Back when everything was command prompts and guis running on dos, you had to know your stuff. Now a 6 year old kid with a year or two of gameboy time could learn how to make animated cartoons with relative simplicity.

    But even still I think the majority of people are still greatly confused by computers. I've been through Computer tech training, and about half way through the class, some of the people with the best grades in the class still knew nothing about the workings and operation of a computer.

    I work with a lady who when started here had no computer knowledge. She has been here for over a year now, has memorized "Menu paths" to do her job, and has learned how to open internet explorer and go to the local news website. If something like a warning dialog pops up, it totaly ruins her day, and unless someone is around to fix it, will cause her to not mess with the cpu anymore in fear of breaking it.

    No, people are horrible when it comes to computers.

    To the note of kids not knowing math, well, if a machine knows it all and is better at, only requiring input from the user, whats the problem? The computer is supposed to be an extension of human capability. As such, the human user should still have a general understanding of the basics, like say, Ohms Law. But having a program designed to calculate the current when V and R is giving isn't taking away from the user, but saving him/her time.

    This is why we are capable of doing more work in our lifetime as opposed to earlier generations. My children will probably atleast double my lifelong productivity in their own, largely inpart to computers, and better understanding of them.
  11. Oct 12, 2003 #10
    DO you think it depends on the individual?

    Some of my classmates spend 24 hours a day on a computer and the socialization that goes on is via a chat room.

    Me? I'm not too computer savvy and I pretty much use my computer to type of papers for class. For communication, chatting is fine but I need to get out and see people face to face.

    And it's not just one classmate, or just me. A majority of people I'm in contact with fit either of the descriptions (or a healthy balance in between).

    About the calculator issue: When I signed up for Calculus I my freshman year, the classroom was crammed and everyone had their TI-89 graphing calculators out and were like "I'm going to breeze my way through this class." Then the teacher walks in, props her books on the table, and goes "oh, you're not allowed to use any graphing calculators" and people's jaws dropped to the ground.

    After that day, there was always enough place to sit because a good number of people had dropped the class.

    Those who stayed and still had a dependence on their TI-89 would sometimes perform horribly on exams because of not being able to factor or FOIL.

    For once, I was glad that I was behind in utilizing available technology (My TI-89 spent most of its time in the back of my closet). :smile:
  12. Oct 12, 2003 #11
    d'oh, I misread Hurkyl. I didn't pick up the "don't". :wink: So I don't disagree then. :smile:

    hmm, I don't know about that (assuming I haven't misread you too ). I think intuitive, usable, human-centric interfaces are definitely a good thing. But what I fear is that the gap between those who know (and produce) and those who don't (and use) is widening, which is probably not too good. If the principles behind, say, computer animation were taught at some level, but the "user-friendliness" was also used, then we might have a good solution. That is, make a product with an effective and efficient interface without dumbing down the user.
  13. Oct 13, 2003 #12
    First off, I don't think the general populace understands computers in the slightest. Some know how to "use" them, but they don't know what they can be used for. When something goes wrong in this day in age, the term "it's because there was a computer breaking down" is a common phrase. People don't realise it's USER ERROR that makes the computers break down, and even then 90% of the time it's not the computers anyway. Technology is an easy excuse to pin troubles on when things go wrong. Why? Because it can't fight back.

    As for calculators, that's just silly. The same arguments were introduced when the slide rule was invented, and obviously, kids still had to learn how to count. The concepts have to be understood, before a calculator can be utilized.

    I remember a Calculus class, much the same as Sting's (except we were using Ti-86s). And Graphing calculators were used to the fullest, BUT they were used in aid to teaching. The problem with these classes won't be that the students can't learn how to do the calculations because they have a calculator, it's that the teachers don't know how to use the calculators! A recent trend in public schooling has had uper-level math classes (especially Trig) taught by people in the computer department.

    The same arguments always come along whenever a new technology is put in place, simply because humans are naturally afraid of change. But in the end, it's all overblown. We integrate it into our lives, it may even change our lives, but any knowledge we lose is a good riddance.

    Who wants to memorize logarithm tables anyway? Just a waste of brainspace.
  14. Oct 13, 2003 #13
    whats the worst that can happen? the matrix? seriously, if i was plugged into the little power thingie, and i lived in a made up world, i wouldnt quite mind, sucks for the people outside though. ignorance is bliss
  15. Oct 13, 2003 #14
    If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic :P

    Personality, I embrace technology and change. Without it, where would we even be today?
  16. Oct 13, 2003 #15
    I really don't know how to respond to this comment. I understand exactly where you are coming from, but just a personal example:

    I got my TI-89 my senior year of high school. A month later I learned how to switch it on. Then I decided to goof off with it and so I tried the integrating function (remember, I took my first Calculus course in college). The only thing I knew about integration was that it was with respect to some variable. I plug in a equation, the variable (following the syntax), and (to quote Emeril) BAM! It popped out an equation.

    What I'm trying to get at is that I was able to use my calculator to solve for an integral (but at the same time, I knew nothing about integrals and how to solve for them by hand).

    Do you see what I'm trying to get at here?

    I work in the Math Lab at my school and I was helping one kid with his Calculus homework. There was a point where he had to factor out a really simple second-degree equation and so he reaches into his backpack and takes out a TI- eighty something. The time he spent trying to find the calculator, he could have factored it out easily.

    Please don't get me wrong. I'm not against calculators or technology. However, I feel that SOME people have a dependency on their calculators.

    Okay, I know this was off-topic but oh well :smile:
  17. Oct 13, 2003 #16


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    It's not true about slide rules either. I started using slide rules in the fifth grade (you could buy a crude one for a dollar). This was not to replace hand calculation but to speed it up. You had to understand the math in order to place the decimal point, which a slide rule doesn't give you. And when I later came to learn logarithms I had a much better feel for them from working all those years with the logarithmic scales on the slide rule.
  18. Oct 13, 2003 #17

    That..was my point. All the arguments came to nothing, as kids still had to learn what the theory behind the numbers were.

    Hm.. and in response to Sting's question, that made me think. I'm seeing less and less evidence of your example now, but it is worrysome. A lot of math teachers have come up with the "you can use calculators for everything but tests" rule, which means kids do learn how to do the calculations, but use the calculators on homework to speed it up. (Probably not the best way to do things, as you don't get much practice by hand). I'm sure there is some degrading of ability to do calculations by hand, but most students (and almost all teachers) will teach the kids how to do things by hand. As teachers learn how to better and better teach with the calculators, things should even themselves out.
  19. Oct 13, 2003 #18
    In all honesty, I really see this "calculator dependency" in incoming freshmen. As students progress, they still use the calculator, but don't rely on it as much (which I believe is ideal).

    Before you guys think some anti-technology advocate, let me stress that I'm not against technology.

    In my Differential Equations class, we use Maple or our TI-89's to go through all the grunt work (it is assumed you can perform integration techniques like partial fractions and trig substitution).
  20. Nov 19, 2003 #19
    YES WE DO!!!!I work in technical support for a software company and ohhhh man.. the second someone computer does not work you would think that someone was going to die!!! I think it is rediculus...

    There are some people that should not even touch one!!!
  21. Dec 1, 2003 #20
    lol. That's like some people who arrive in the Math Lab. But the problem with some of the Math Lab people is that they don't bother reading the directions and then they go crazy when something doesn't work (which I assume is on the same lines as your problem).
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