Choose Non-Computerized, Or Least-Computerized, Products & Services. Reclaim your Life, Sanity, & Efficacy.
Can CRAZE you, COST you, or even KILL you.
I am fed up with computer software that is buggy, doesn’t work, doesn’t work as advertised, is incompatible, is improperly documented, is poorly supported, was prematurely released, or any of a thousand other problems which make computing a living hell so much of the time. These problems in a personal computing context are frustrating, costly, and time-consuming. Even worse, however, are mission-critical systems, traditionally comprising such areas as medicine, military, and airline, but increasingly including consumer items such as ovens and automobiles; in these kinds of products, software that is anything less than perfect can cause injury--or death.
Non & Least Digital Alternatives
for SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS
Consumer Products: When Software Bugs Bite
MY BUG BLOG
The software industry is attempting to resolve this disturbing state of affairs, yet I don't see dramatic, wholesale improvement coming quickly. Indeed, it may never come: market pressure, real or perceived, to release early, which often means prematurely, is so strong, yet the software written today so complex, that the ideal of bug-free, or even near-bug-free, code is probably unrealistic.
Consider the article dated April 11, 2017 by Will Knight in MIT Technology Review entitled The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI - No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. The piece declares that, though the field of artificial intelligence is finally moving forward again thanks to the new conceptual driver called "deep learning," the problem is that no one actually knows how the deep learning works and does what it does.
From the piece:
"Last year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. The experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia, didn’t look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors, and it showed the rising power of artificial intelligence. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it."
"Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it’s also a bit unsettling, since it isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle’s sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you’d expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why. The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action. And you can’t ask it: there is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did.". . . . .
"We need more than a glimpse of AI’s thinking, however, and there is no easy solution. It is the interplay of calculations inside a deep neural network that is crucial to higher-level pattern recognition and complex decision-making, but those calculations are a quagmire of mathematical functions and variables. “If you had a very small neural network, you might be able to understand it,” Jaakkola says. “But once it becomes very large, and it has thousands of units per layer and maybe hundreds of layers, then it becomes quite un-understandable.”. . . . .
"The U.S. military is pouring billions into projects that will use machine learning to pilot vehicles and aircraft, identify targets, and help analysts sift through huge piles of intelligence data. Here more than anywhere else, even more than in medicine, there is little room for algorithmic mystery, and the Department of Defense has identified explainability as a key stumbling block.". . . . .
“We haven’t achieved the whole dream, which is where AI has a conversation with you, and it is able to explain,” says Guestrin. “We’re a long way from having truly interpretable AI.". . . . .
"I think by all means if we’re going to use these things and rely on them, then let’s get as firm a grip on how and why they’re giving us the answers as possible,” he says. But since there may be no perfect answer, we should be as cautious of AI explanations as we are of each other’s—no matter how clever a machine seems. “If it can’t do better than us at explaining what it’s doing,” he says, “then don’t trust it."
Accordingly, NonDigital.org, this web site, is firing the first shot in the official, organized movement away from digital products and services. While not calling for a complete moratorium on digital products and services--yet--it advises people to first seek out and consider non-computerized or least-computerized (NC/LC) products and services in every category, whether for writing, drawing, business, music, appliances, autos, medical care, and everything else. Seek the more reliable (and often easier-to-use) nondigital option, whether you are word-processing, driving to work, or toasting a piece of bread. Get those microchips out of your goods and services, and reclaim your life, sanity, and efficacy.
You can pile books, papers, and every manner of file, document, or physical object on your physical desktop, and you will hear not a peep in complaint. Don't try this on the virtual desktop of your computer, however, without performing a regular reboot, which requires closing all open documents that you're working on and programs that you're working with, or prepare for the eventual fireworks of crashes, glitches, slowed performance, and possible loss of both data and income, with the concomitants wasted time, exasperation, and increased chance of hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure).
Life is short. Don't waste a second more.
Why NonDigital, when all or many of the replacement products recommended here are, themselves, digital?
The term digital describes a mode of operation based on a numeric system. The numeric system of the computing of today is a binary, or 1 - 0, system. The more popular understanding of digital, however, is that which is computer-based; it's in this general sense that NonDigital.org uses this word.
This is because finding a technically accurate word for our site title is not straightforward. For example, I could select the word computerized, but the recommended alternate products are computerized in that they usually contain some sort of microprocessor. So computerized turns out just as inaccurate as digital, and in fact means fundamentally the same thing. Today, it is difficult if not impossible to find replacement products which are truly non-digital or non-computerized, which is to say products which are purely mechanical, electrical, or otherwise fully analog in nature.
However, it is still possible, fortunately, to find products which, while digital, are designed and built to perform just one basic task (i.e. are "dedicated" devices), and are thus an order of magnitude less complex and more reliable than multi-purpose computing devices such as personal computers. Therefore, while the alternative products recommended here are digital, using a microprocessor, and are thusly not non-digital, they are dedicated digital devices: their operating system and computerized hardware components serve the one task the product is designed for, as opposed to a multi-purpose use digital device like a personal computer that attempts to perform many computing tasks (word processing, music recording, graphic rendering, etc.), increasing complexity and unreliability accordingly.
Accordingly, the only practicable way to conceptualize what I advocate is that which is not non-digital, but least-digital, and thus do I refer to these alternative products as least-computerized products.
Bug = Defect
While we're defining terms and clarifying concepts, let's remind ourselves that the term "bug" is actually a euphemism for defect--what we're talking about here are defects in software products. You wouldn't accept defects in a new car, washing machine, stereo, camera, kitchen table, or pair of shoes. Why should you accept defects in software products?
About & Contact
I am Vincent Frank De Benedetto, creator and author of this Internet resource.
I am a Philosopher, New York Times-published writer, neologist, Musician, Agape Master, Health Educator, Silence Activist, former Leafblower & Community Relations Expert at a national anti-noise organization, and a continuing family Caregiver.
I have a B.A. in Philosophy from Seton Hall University.
I urge that rather than try to create machines that mimic or duplicate the human mind, we try more assiduously to improve the human mind itself, especially the moral mind. Success in this endeavor would likely solve all human problems, or at minimum create a social framework under which this could realistically happen. The twin symbiotic realities that define capitalism, profit and ego, are not such a framework, and in fact immutably are, in theory a counterpoint, and in operation an obstacle, to such a framework.
Terminology & Concepts Copyright © 2017 Vincent Frank De Benedetto
NonDigital.org went live on August 27, 2003, was eventually removed, but went live again July 13, 2017, its message of technology coherence more relevant than ever.
Please contact me at onehumanfamily [at] fastmail.net.
Note that most links running down the left and right sides of this home page require update.
If your company, product, or service is critiqued, assessed, cited, or otherwise featured at NonDigital.org, and you wish to respond to what has been written, please contact Vincent Frank De Benedetto, above. If you present a substantive counterclaim, mitigating factor or explanation, or other point of relevance, I may amend my account.
- Site, Terminology, & Concepts Copyright © 2017 Vincent Frank De Benedetto -
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