Are machines replacing certain human cognitive functions?
Lauren McKenna and Dallas Warren
Psy 322 – Human-Machine Interaction
April 12, 2005
FINAL PROJECT PROPOSAL
Advisors: Professor Johnson-Laird
Are machines replacing certain human cognitive functions? Do humans rely too much on
technology and abdicate rational decision making to algorithmic computer programs? Or is
technology the key to making everyday decisions more efficient? We wish to analyze the role
Personal Digital Assistants play in assisting the health care sector. With the development of the
PDA, many time-consuming processes in the medical field are being transformed, increasing
overall efficiency and decreasing the need for human involvement. Initially PDAs were used as
digital planners; however, more advanced and specialized features have been developed and
incorporated into PDAs in order to expand its uses.
For example, some physicians have started using PDAs to access relevant patient history,
pharmaceutical data, and treatment methods to more efficiently diagnose ailments and optimize
treatment protocols for their patients. The devices can also be used to upload, download and
store results of basic medical tests. We want to determine what medical professionals are taking
advantage of this technological advance. Is this device geared more towards general practitioners,
surgeons, nurses, or radiologists? Are these medical PDAs “user friendly” for senior age
practitioners, or are they only for the new age “techies” of the medical profession? Are women
more prone to use such a device in order to improve organization? Or are men more inclined to
use PDAs for practical purposes like cutting labor costs or saving time? We also want to
determine what functions of PDAs are being used by medical professionals, and what functions
have not been helpful.
By analyzing testimonials, published articles, and statistics about PDA use in the medical
sector we want to examine and assess the costs, benefits, and practicality of this device. Is this
new technology a necessity or a luxury? What are the potential consequences of relying on
PDAs to analyze life-threatening illnesses? Even though there are concerns about introducing
this technology into the medical field, there are potential benefits to patients and doctors. How
helpful will PDAs be in eliminating or at least substantially reducing paperwork on patient
history? Will doctors have less of a need to hire assistants and nurses? Will this lead to the
elimination of human-to-human interaction in the medical field?
We hypothesize that gender will have little to no effect on the use of PDAs, but that age
will play a large role as younger physicians are generally more computer savvy and accepting of
technological advancements. Also, it is probable that most medical professionals would use
PDAs for simple, organizational tasks before trusting the technology to perform more crucial
operations. We also believe that the benefits of portability, flexibility, reliability, and multi-
functionality of the devices will lessen human errors in recording patient data, minimize data
storage costs, reduce mis-filed or lost records, and provide ease of data mining, retrieval, and
distribution to large medical teams involved in patient care.