Image of "Man-Computer Symbiosis"
"Man-Computer Symbiosis"

“In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them.”

— J.C.R. Licklider

J.C.R. Licklider’s article, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” was the opening piece in the inaugural issue of the electrical engineering journal, IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics. Licklider used the analogy of the fig wasp and the fig tree to explain why he believed that in the future humans and computers would live in a similar symbiosis. Licklider’s vision and subsequent actions as director of the Information Processing Techniques Office of the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) were the inspiration for ARPAnet and the modern Internet.

“Man-Computer Symbiosis” by J.C.R. Licklider in
IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, March 1960, p.4.

photo: MIT Museum Collections

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