The Long History of Computer Science and Psychology Comes Into View

Discussion in 'Science & Tech' started by MarineCorpse, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. MarineCorpse

    MarineCorpse

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    The truth is finally out about Cambridge Analytic. In a series of eye-popping articles for the Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr and her colleagues have detailed the full story of how research linking Facebook demographic data to personality traits apparently ended up in the hands of Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer, and the Donald Trump campaign.


    I’ve been staggered by the sheer detail of these articles, but totally unsurprised by their content: I’ve been arguing for years that the integration of digital media devices and psychological techniques is one of the most underappreciated developments in the history of computing. For more than 50 years, this has been the domain of computer scientists who have approached the brain as a “human processor,” just another a machine to be tinkered with. The work has taken place almost entirely in the domain of computer science, with little input from clinical psychologists, ethicists, or other academic fields interested in the messy details of human social life. Understanding that shortsighted perspective, and how it gave rise to companies like Cambridge Analytica, can help us curtail the weaponziation of social media today.


    Psychological models shaped the development of computers from the very beginning. Kurt Lewin, one of the founders of social psychology, was a participant in the 1946 Macy Conference, a now-legendary gathering of computer scientists and scholars interested in human behavior that helped birth both cybernetics and systems theory. This combination of psychology, systems analysis, and computer science became a hallmark of other Cold-War era research institutes like the RAND Corp. and the Stanford Research Institute. Much of this research was tied to the defense establishment and their large institutional mainframes. The idea of an individual user interacting at their own discretion with newly personal computers attracted only a few visionary designers like Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse.


    Psychology’s insights into the complexities of the human mind both troubled and fascinated computer scientists in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 AI pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum modeled ELIZA, one of the first chat bots, after famed talk therapist Carl Rogers. Weizenbaum set out to demonstrate how superficial communications between humans and machines were at the time, and was surprised when scores of people ascribed the program with intelligence. Also in the 1960s, computer scientist Hilary Putnam developed the idea of the “computational theory of mind,” which understood the brain as a computing machine and helped shape the field of cognitive psychology around thinking of brains as “information processors.”


    It was this development—metaphorically understanding brains as computers—that really began to knit psychology and computer science together in the field of human-computer interaction. A critical moment came with the 1983 publication of The Psychology of Human Computer Interaction by three scientists working for the Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto Research Center—Stuart K. Card, Thomas P. Moran, and Allen Newell. Together, they made up the Applied Information-Processing Psychology Project at PARC, which had an outsized impact on a wide range of developments in personal computing between the 1970s and 1990s. The three brought a wealth of experience: Card was a psychologist by training, Moran a human factors engineer, and Newell a mathematician, game theorist, and artificial intelligence researcher. Card had been developing ways to apply cognitive psychology to human-computer interaction since his arrival at PARC; in the spring of 1980, he and Moran ran a graduate seminar at Stanford’s Computer Science department on the subject, open to both engineers and psychologists.


    The kind of communication with machines envisioned by the PARC authors was based on understanding the human being as a functional analogue to the computer. The goal of the authors was to “integrate all the units of the human processor to do useful tasks.” These tasks could be processed through the collection of human data: about physiological response rates, movement dynamics, and other processes amenable to the digital languages of computing. The authors illustrated their idea of the “model human processor” with a bald, smiling homunculus staring happily at a computer screen.


    Card and his co-authors had great ambitions for human-computer interaction as a new way to shape our behavior. They called it “an applied psychology” grounded in understanding a human and computer as one single unit through numerical tracking, task analysis, and calculability. In traditional experimental psychology, the authors complained, “measurements come to have little value in themselves as a continually growing body of useful quantitative knowledge.” Human-computer interaction, in contrast, would collect data about the human body indiscriminately, and put all sorts of measurement about the human information processor to use.


    Card, Moran, and Newell were interested in collecting whatever data they could about human computer users—and they thought that computer scientists, not psychologists, should be the ones applying psychological techniques with digital systems. Systems designers were “engaged in a sort of psychological civil engineering,” they wrote, using human abilities as one factor among many to create an efficiently operating system.


    The Psychology of Human Computer Interaction was highly influential. Crucially, it pushed studies of how humans interact with computers firmly into computer science for almost 20 years, detaching psychological techniques from their human context and prompting psychologists themselves to play catch-up. Branches of psychology already dealing with evaluations by number, like psychometricians, found human-computer interaction research especially amenable to their experiments. For instance, British data scientist and psychologist Michal Kosinski claimed in a 2013 paper that publicly available Facebook likes could be used to determine a user’s race, sex, sexuality, and even personality traits. Last year, Kosinski published a paper suggesting that his AI system could determine the sexual orientation of faces more accurately than a human being.


    Happily, human-computer interaction has changed over the past decade to include a more diverse set of methods and disciplines, including insights from designers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists. Unfortunately, social media platforms were already up and running under the auspices of computer science as “psychological civil engineering,” via digital means without much input from the social sciences. The humble online quiz, a way for individuals to while away time ever since Spark.com’s famous Purity Test from the 1990s became a vector to collect personality data. Kosinski’s 2013 researcher relied on a personality test circulated via Facebook—a copy of which was used by Cambridge Analytica. And with Facebook and Twitter performing nearly constant behavioral experiments to test ways their users could be nudged into spending more time on their sites, the amounts of behavioral and psychological data collected by our digital devices is only getting bigger. “A smart phone,” Kosinski told the media after the 2016 election, “is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.”


    As the Cambridge Analytica story shows, there’s a fine line between psychological civil engineering and psychological civil war. The behavioral, demographic, and personal information Facebook and other social media platforms now collect through what I call algorithmic psychometrics has the sensitivity of medical data, and should be treated as such by regulators around the world. In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects medical and other health information—but only if that information is collected and used by organizations like health care providers and insurance plans. Instead, regulators need to rethink health privacy laws by focusing on both how demographic, behavioral, and psychological data is collected and used across all sectors of the digital economy. The long history of psychology’s role in computing means the Cambridge Analytica bombshell makes unfortunate sense—and makes immediate regulation of these forms of data an urgent necessity.
     
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  2. DR OSMAN

    DR OSMAN

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    I don't know if you could call these things science sxb, especially computer part, that's putting together not coming up with anything new, maybe the person who came up with the logic behind it could be deemed. I think with most fields today you have a bunch of engineers more or so less, people who put things together that are already established. For example, this is probably the closest I found to what engineers are.

    All the things used here have already been discovered lol, their just adding it together to address a solution. Nothing wrong with it don't get me wrong but it's not science, I think science is bringing something that is totally not at all known. So even most scientists are just engineers if you apply that standard. I think Einstein was the best in our times. But Newton was mind blowing I have to give him that, totally new things he brought.

    Mind you I think science always existed sxb but the testing component didn't so it's critical to read past societies and their explanations which could be very plausible but un-tested. It's just difficult as there is very little available in terms of video content on youtube on other societies, I guess travelling is a must but don't limit yourself just to western stuff, it's only one side of knowledge.

    I think a good example is aboriginal boomerang, these guys knew maths or else they couldn't one figure out how to create this object and at the same time have it work for a specific purpose within it's natural environment. They must of understood the environment and the different factors involved like distance, speed, conditions, and the type of equipment needed. So just cause they didnt use some flashy confusing algorithm don't mean anything well not to me, it's provable they did something and it achieved a purpose. Basically a purpose was set, environment and obstacles was scanned, and a tool was created to achieve the purpose.

     
  3. DR OSMAN

    DR OSMAN

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    In my honest opinion, I think humanity was always set up as the ant structure. U had the majority ants who just live day to day doing tasks, then there is leaders who manage it all, and then there is thinkers or enforcer ants who either feed ideas to the leaders or the leader himself gives them the idea for it to be created or enforced.

    I don't think the structure we have no just started with Isaac Newton, things don't just pop out of nowhere into existence, there is a long chain involved. So in my view there is DOERS, THINKERS, LEADERS similar to the ants three structure pyramid and we all fall into one or we achieve the best results.

    That's why the world is messed up people are in the wrong areas of the pyramids due to enviromental set-up hence the poor results through-out our life-times. Leaders need to great respect among the heirachy and have a good pull over each sphere of the pyramid and knows how speak to each side and get them push forward into survival. The current structure is doers rise up to thinkers then to leaders and you see that everywhere in society and the results aren't that great are they. They come into roles or areas with the mind-set their 'predospitioned' with so a doer will start acting like he does in thinker role and a thinker will start acting like a doer role and there is huge clashes that happen and even leaders could either be doers or thinkers which isnt the quality that is really needed.

    The leader simply needs to be respected by the thinkers and doers and have that pull over them nothing else, then each sphere will perform it's role perfectly. The thinkers will tell the leader how to set it all up and the doers start doing it. Leaders just need to be there and understand the different challenges in each sphere and maintain the order for the survival of the tribe, business, govt, or where-ever there is a collective group.

    But I do think each area can be taught, but will the person actually click with it? that's where it's subjective and if they don't click with it and there is no positive result in the sphere their in, they just should go back to what their good at and not effect the over-all result in the pyramid.

    I think the problem is the biggest rewards tend to be in the thinker or leader spheres or closer up to the heirachy hence people gravitate towards that so the incentives should be at each sphere.

    A great doer in his sphere should be paid way better then a shitty thinker in the thinker sphere, u get me bro? each sphere will have the people who should be in there and the incentives are there also so they don't need to gravitate towards another sphere for incentive reasons and vice versa.

    My ultimate dream is seeing a doers award like noble peace prize set up for them as it's critical part of the chain of survival, we got one for thinkers and leaders why not the doers? this will make people strive hard in that sphere where they are the best and benefit the whole pyramid.

    U use people where they are best for the survival of all, any part of the chain disturbed is an effect on all within that pyramid. Study ants and it's great system. Imagine that setting up your all-star team by plucking thru the doers nobel prize and thinker noble prizes and leader noble prizes. U would have a damn wicked team set up where everyone is the best in his area, totally unstoppable force.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  4. DR OSMAN

    DR OSMAN

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    It's like Pharoah he probably wasn't a thinker or doer or a leader, he was well respected among all the structure, that's all u need to keep the pyramid from collapsing. Pharoah is what I describe a pure leader. It can come thru genetic holyness or designated by god or something that all the doers and thinkers respect and will adore. So I don't think even think u need to be a thinker to be a leader, u just need a great pull on the whole pyramid below you.

    The leader should keep the thinker and doers working on with greatest reverence and respect but he should pull the hell away from influencing anything in the below spheres as he could stuff it up, hopefully some manual was handed to him from previous leaders or wisdom on how to keep the pyramid flowing on. Wow thinking about it further I really adore the Pharoah structure, they would always be guaranteed legitimacy and huge pull among the thinkers and doers, so the structure is always stable. Through stability now the only question remains is the type of Pharoah that comes and the only way he can stuff things up is interfering in the sphere below and not letting them do what their good at be it agendas, emotions, etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
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