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Amir Michail

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Has computer science completely missed the point of a computer -- namely, that it is a creative tool?

One could argue that computer science is like a "pen science" where scientists find ways to write as quickly as possible with a pen and to fill up a page with as much text as possible.

That would of course completely miss the point of a pen.

One could say something similar about computer science with its focus on time and space efficiency of computations.

The computer—like a pen—is a creative tool and the focus should be on the invention of new kinds of software applications—not on making existing ones more efficient.

Universities should have a creative field of study—distinct from computer science—for novel uses of computers.


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    May 17 2011: Hello Amir, and everyone else!

    Amir; what you speak of is descriptive of an area of Computer Science often called Human Computer Interaction (HCI), which is loosely a Human Factors field where the art of combining human and machine into something more than either is developed.

    Whereas strict Computer Scientists (I like to call them "Big Iron") work inside the machine, HCI folks work extends beyond the scope of machine to incude the human.

    If you have heard of Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, you may also be familiar with his design for an unconventional computer (with computational powers beyond the Turing Machine) called an "Oracle Machine". The Oracle Machine was a Turing Machine and a Black Box working together. In this symbiosis the Turing Machine asks the Black Box questions it can't answer alone and thus is more powerful than an unaugmented Touring Machne.

    In many ways the combination of computers and humans embodies this powerful tool described by Turing. HCI recognizes this and works towards both efficiency and humanistic gains. So, this is a hard example of an area of Computer Science that has both artistic and scientific acumen.

    If you look at work that comes out of many labs with a strong HCI history (eg. Zeros PARC, MIT Media Lab, Human Media Lab, etc.) you will see many interesting and odd uses of computers that are novel, disruptive and sometimes even world-changing!

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