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"Are We Relying on Computers to Think for Us?"
Lima Team- Anna Laumann, Nick Hokin, Karoel Drenske
This paper is based on the case study "Are We Relying Too Much on Computers to Think for Us?" Within the Essentials of Management Information Systems 12E by Kenneth C. Laudon and Jane P. Laudon, page 138. The purpose of this report is to analysis if our societies use of technology too often is harmful or helpful. The group collectively gathered information to provide some answers to this question.
"Are We Relying on Computers to Think for Us?"
Automation has created a variety of opportunities globally due to the spread and increase of reliance on computers. Are we allowing computers to dictate our decisions for us, or are we limiting our own mental/ intellectual potential by continually using a handheld device to think for us? Is the constant presence of technology essential? Computers, whether categorized as our smartphones or our laptops, have become a staple form of communication and in nearly every business, educational, and social setting.
The problems described in this case study will be addressed and in what sense is it an ethical dilemma. Automation will be examined as well as questioned on the affects placed on the medical field and cognitive skills. Finally, there will be discussion on how technology is transforming the workplace in the business and management field.
Advancing, researching, and growing every day, we are improving our knowledge and adaptation to a technologically advanced world whether we are conscious of it or not.
Automation aids with mass and personal delivery, search, and structure of information that the human mind and attention span is incapable of competing with due to the multiple instant resources a computer possesses. Most career fields implement the use of some form of a computer daily, which sets an expectation of speed and productivity. One reason we need automation is because of the trusted speed and reliability within computers. Automated processing is undeniably faster than humans, also offering supported content to defend the information. For example, when searching a topic on Google, one is provided with dozens of links related to the searched topic based upon the keyword.
As technology advances and expands its presence in career fields, society fears the possibility of computers taking over, beginning with humans lacking knowledge due to their trust in machines. This is a valid concern when considering the rapid rate of technology has improved in the past decade. To quote Elon Musk, "Technology doesn't automatically improve, it only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better. And, it will by itself degrade·" (Snurnikov, 2019). We often forget that technology exists because of its creator; humans. (Amongst a variety of chemical processes and scientific methods, of course.) As humans, we can self-correct. Computers, however, often catch human error. Although computers lack a conscience that guides information in the right direction, they also lack emotion. This lack of emotion is a swaying factor of decision making in humans that often influences our actions more significant than one would willingly admit.
There is power in the human mind that often gets unnoticed due to the overload of information computers offer. Companies value customer-facing workings that can efficiently problem solve and immediately address a situation without having to hit a search button. According to an article from "Fast Company" 91% of United States Employers state that they plan to keep their workforce as is, or even hire more employees in the next 3 years as a result of automation. (Dishman, 2018). This statement supports that humans should not fear robots taking over their jobs, for there is an idiosyncratic sense in being human. "The uniquely human skills employers reported being most valued and hard to find are communication, collaboration, problem solving, organization, leadership, customer service, and management." (Dishman, 2018). With computers aiding humans in the validation of information, automation profoundly supports human thoughts rather than thinking for them.
Within the medical field, there have been tremendous amounts of automation; some good some not so good. We have automated the dispensing of medication so that nurses do not have drop what they are in the middle of doing to provide the medication directly. In doing so, we are now allowing the machine to give the correct amount within the particular time frame. These machines have "safety alarms" to warn the health care professionals that there is something wrong helping eliminate under or overdosing a patient or that the medication has run out and needs replacing. While this does save the health care professionals time, it can be a hazard due to what is called alarm fatigue. According to Sendelbach and Funk "Alarm fatigue is sensory overload when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarms and missed alarms. Patient deaths have been attributed to alarm fatigue."(Sendelbach & Funk 2013) Also, the article states that "72% to 99% of clinical alarms are false" so is the automation helping or hindering? What should hospitals do to help with the alarm fatigue?
Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic filing system for a patient's medical history required in 2014. This system was initiated to improve the patients' health care so that other provider would have a clear historical record. According to CMS.gov website the EHR helps with "1) reducing the incidence of medical error by improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records; 2) making the health information available, reducing duplication of tests, reducing delays in treatment and patients well informed to make better decisions; and 3) reducing medical error by improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records." (CMS.gov 2012) It is like a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) whereas it keeps track of customers history but much more detailed. As the CRM the EHR collaborates with other health care professionals all working to achieve one primary goal, the patient's health. Cerner and Epic are both cloud-based EHR systems and is the question many companies are deciding to use that would be the best for their company. Both methods can become a multitiered client/server network (N-Tier) if the end client wishes. Should hospitals allow patients access to their EHR? Why or why not?
Automation creates benefits for both service providers and customers. "Customers see an improved experience due to better consistency in the services provided, improved response times, and often lower costs. These are benefits for the service provider, too: enhanced user experiences increase the lifetime value of customers and brand loyalty."(Yip 2018,). Automation strengthens organizations to intergrate internal resource allocation, capitalize on opportunity costs and enables businesses to scale while ensuring consistency in customer experience. With automation, companies are either saving or creating captial.
The problem described in this case study is automation and computers. Complex interferences among the algorithm, databases software's are required for computer systems. The higher the number of the dependent elements in the system the more will be the chances of failure. The jobs that require more of human monitoring such as diagnosing illness, flying airplanes when gets automated; the chances of making risk-prone also increases as the level of human monitoring gets reduced. Too much reliance over the computers and automation has led to the loss of skill. The professional's focus and trust over the automation which is affecting their decision-making stimuli. Another problem with automation and computers is losing mental ability to solve problems and increases dependency on technology is another major problem. Skill development has been lost due to improved technology. "The way computers can weaken awareness and attentiveness points to a deeper problem. Automation turns us from actors into observers. Instead of manipulating the yoke, we watch the screen. That shift may make our lives easier, but it can also inhibit the development of expertise." (Carr 13) The thinking capacity of humans has been reduced and act as data entry objects like inputting data and observing the output. In the accounting field where the human brain is a must, it has been replaced with accounting software where it leads to significant financial risks.
It's an ethical dilemma in the sense that technology reduces the human effort but, getting the work done by the machines instead of getting it done by human hands reduces the employment level. Assigning the work to the computers where human life may be at risk is the biggest dilemma as a machine can fail or may provide false output. Automation has made the work more straightforward and has reduced the human efforts, but an excess of this increased the dependencies of machine over machines. Here, if one of the processes gets affected, the other tasks will automatically get affected. A minor mistake can change the whole process. Also, the increasing adaptation of automation has led to the loss of human skill. The solution for this problem here is not to involve the automation in every process rather include it in a limited process where it's not feasible for humans to provide quality output. This will not decrease the employment level, and the frequent intervention of human effort will not affect the skill level as well. Thus, only limited processes should be automated to keep intervention of human efforts will not affect the skill level as well.
Cognitive skills can be explained as a process where it allows an individual to think, learn, and solve problems. As time moves on, I don't think the issue of automation reducing cognitive skills can be addressed because we are so dependent on computers and other electronics like mobile phones. Also, passing on this dependency to the next generation. Cognitive skills are the ones which led the human brain to think analytically, and cognitive functioning is the process by which thoughts are generated in the mind. Cognitive skills help the person in solving and helps to improve the thinking ability. Automation is a part of development where the work which was earlier done by humans is now done by machines. Innovation lets the mind to do brainstorming which increases the cognitive functioning.
Technology is transforming the workforce
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