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.
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