Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Computer Says "No"

Have you noticed how – whatever you do nowadays – and expert will ask you to fill in a form or survey which bombards you with various statements and then asks if you “strongly agree, somewhat agree, are ambivalent…….”. Well, you know what I mean. I think it’s called a Box–Jenkins survey, if my memory of studying statistics thirty years ago (ouch) is correct.

I’ve recently had this both at the doctor’s and at the bank and I’ve watched my mother be asked to do the same with regard to pain management at an arthritis clinic.

I suppose any tool to help comprehension is to be applauded. But there’s a slight nagging feeling inside me that this is turning the “professional” in front of me into a slave of the computer. After all, all this data is promptly fed in and then “the computer” says what the next step ought to be. It’s turning highly skilled professionals into data entry clerks. Sooner or later I fear I’m going to have a doctor say to me “Computer says no”.

Maybe the machines are closer to taking over than we thought.

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