Human Computing

humancomputer

 

The word "computer" has evolved over time to refer to a device that uses electronics to achieve computation. Prior to the second world war, most computing devices were analog, but also the word "computer" was defined as a human who performed calculation, often with the aid of machinery. The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California has an excellent summary of the era of human computing. A classic example of human computing is the production of books of mathematical tables containing values of functions such as sine and cosine. Less obvious, but no less intriguing, are computations that occur regularly whenever we get together and collaborate. For example, two people working with each other in the kitchen to make dinner is a computation resulting in a meal. The collection of human collaborators and their material flows is a type of automaton.