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What Can Computers Offer?

What Can Computers Offer?

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What Can Computers Offer?

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  1. What Can Computers Offer? The Perfect White Collar Assistant

  2. Agenda • Finding the perfect White Collar Assistant • A Theory of White Collar Work • What Computers Offer • The Match

  3. Finding the Perfect White Collar Assistant • Define the work • Determine the qualities • Make the match

  4. A Theory of White Collar Work • Information-intensive, requires memory • Repetitive, boring • Done in real time, scheduled • Can be broken up or analyzed into a structured, hierarchical set of tasks (Taylor) • Errors propagate unseen • Work moves around in space and time

  5. Task Structure This task consists of This task and then … this task and then … this task which consists of All of these tasks which consist of others, etc., etc. Frederick Taylor’s idea, which is now termed “Taylorism”. Ford took this idea and focused on the sequential links. His ideas are now called “Fordism”

  6. Desired Qualities • Can handle information tasks and can delegate to others • Can remember lots of things • Speedy • Reliable in several senses • Can do several things at once: multitask • Doesn’t make errors • Can take orders • Hopefully doesn’t require much supervision

  7. Computer Qualities • Can handle information tasks • Can control other operations • Speedy, operations in nanoseconds • Reliable in several senses • Can do several things at once • Doesn’t make many errors and corrects some • Can take orders: programmability • Hopefully doesn’t require much supervision: operating systems

  8. How does this happen? • Programmability (A. Turing) • The stored program concept (von Neumann) • The law of large numbers • Leverage

  9. General Purpose Programmability • Each task requires a specialized machine • To do a number of different tasks requires a number of different machines (if people, read “specialists”) • Information tasks have some commonalities, though, enabling the concept of a machine that can be “rewired” “on the fly” by changing its “program” • Alan Turing demonstrated the feasibility mathematically in the 1930s. • First programmable computers were built in the 1930s and 1940s.

  10. Stored Program Concept • Earliest computers had to be reprogrammed using wires and jumper cables. Reprogramming took hours. • John von Neumann set the stage with the stored program concept: instructions are data, like any other data, so store them in the computer’s memory and have the computer fetch them in order and do them. • Thus, reprogramming could be accomplished just by changing the computer’s memory

  11. …and more • The process of changing the computer’s memory has become automated so that programs can be “loaded” in microseconds. • People who create the programs are called “programmers”

  12. The Way It Happens • Fast operation, so can share among tasks and appears to be doing multiple things at once. • Large memory, so can keep track of many operations simultaneously • Stored programs, so can switch among many tasks easily • Can control anything that can be “switched”