Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: April 25, 2022, 6:30 a.m. Humanist 35.664 - human bandwidth:investigating and sustaining human exchange

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 664.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2022-04-24 17:54:02+00:00
        From: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) <>
        Subject: Man a Machine . . . and AI

Has anyone tried to calculate/estimate the quantity of information exchange
processed by an individual person in an hour of waking activity (and perhaps an
hour of sleep)?  As to that, has anyone  produced a description of the
individual’s information storage and processing capacities?

John Unsworth has cited as a general point of departure this:

And it is indeed typical of the approach to the question in that it takes the
brain as the model of human computational functions.  But our memory and
processors are distributed across the entire body.  I’ve been made acutely aware
of this recently because I had a bad fall that wrecked the muscles and tendons
and rotator cuff in my right shoulder.   A month into what will be a long
regimen of PT has introduced me to the multiple computers that operate all of
the damaged equipment, each of which is now having to be rebooted on a daily
basis.  It’s not JUST the brain that is contributing to the machinery of our
information storage and exchanges.  Is he brain actually “smarter” than gthe
hand, or the eye, or the ear?

Nothing so true as not to trust your senses,
And yet, what are your other evidences?

I set this personal event in the context of the distributed computational
network of human communication and get a sober view of AI.  By no means a
dismissive view.  But the distributed network of any AI computational model,
actual or conceivable, seems so minimal as to be all but without any statistical
or quantum relevance.   Realizing that seems to me important as we try to design
and build digital tools for investigating and sustaining human exchange in both
natural and artificial worlds, including language exchange.

Jerry McGann

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