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As we may think 誠如我們的想像

12月 01, 2011 2 Comments Edit Post

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Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. The Atlantic Monthly (July 1945).

資訊科學與圖書資訊領域的學生都聽過Bush與As we may think,不過我到現在才真正地開始讀這篇的內容。由於Bush寫作用詞有些不是很好懂,我同時參考了李博阳的翻譯()(),雖然有些語句不是很通順,但是很能幫助我們了解Bush要表達的意思,中英對照閱讀起來也算是勉強能懂。


前言

Now, as peace approaches, one asks where they will find objectives worthy of their best.

  • 作者係以當時的科學技術為基礎,提出關於儲存、輸入、檢索、取用資訊的未來想像。
  • 本文分成8個部分,每一部分談論數個主題。

I. 資訊檢索的需求

  • 科學家難以掌握數以萬計的研究成果,能夠記下來的更是少之又少。
    The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workers - conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear.
    • 科學家花費大量時間在閱讀上。
      If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling.
    • 我們難以在大量無意義無結果的研究中,找出真正重要的成果。
      ... as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.
  • 這個時代已經可以生產高度可靠、便宜的複雜機器,而我們可以從此獲得些啟發。
    The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.

II. 儲存與壓縮技術

  • 現在儲存資料通常是用書寫或拍照,其次是印刷;但也可用膠卷、唱片與磁帶上。
    Today we make the record conventionally by writing and photography, followed by printing; but we also record on film, on wax disks, and on magnetic wires.
  • 作者介紹乾燥攝影技術(dry photography)並對它該影像儲存能力寄予厚望。而儲存技術發展到最後的化學膠卷將會取代目前的螢光幕畫面。
    Use chemically treated film in place of the glowing screen, allow the apparatus to transmit one picture rather than a succession, and a rapid camera for dry photography results.
  • 光學投影與微縮攝影的成果出現在微縮膠卷技術上,而且具備發展潛力。
    The combination of optical projection and photographic reduction is already producing some results in microfilm for scholarly purposes, and the potentialities are highly suggestive.

III. 可由機器輔助的輸入與計算工作

  • 未來作者是否可以不再使用手寫或打字,而直接用錄音的方式記錄資料呢?
    Will the author of the future cease writing by hand or typewriter and talk directly to the record?
  • 研究者在資料的蒐集與觀察過程中還要做很多事情,像是從既有記錄中抽取重複的資料、將結果加入記錄中。
    Between the collection of data and observations, the extraction of parallel material from the existing record, and the final insertion of new material into the general body of the common record.
    前者是不可或缺的創造性思考,而後者則是可由機械輔助的重複性思考。
    Creative thought and essentially repetitive thought are very different things. For the latter there are, and may be, powerful mechanical aids.
  • 作者認為未來先進的電子計算機將會有更高的速度,可以直接以卡片或膠卷輸入指令進行操作並獲得計算結果,供未來進一步的使用。
    They (the advanced arithmetical machines) will be controlled by a control card or film, they will select their own data and manipulate it in accordance with the instructions thus inserted, they will perform complex arithmetical computations at exceedingly high speeds, and they will record results in such form as to be readily available for distribution or for later further manipulation.

IV. 複雜計算應由機器處理

  • 如果我們要更深入了解實體世界,那就不應該受限於計算處理過程。
    If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the physical world.
  • 研究者應該減少重複計算既有的數位公式,而將腦力投注在其他地方。
    Relief must be secured from laborious detailed manipulation of higher mathematics as well, if the users of it are to free their brains for something more than repetitive detailed transformations in accordance with established rules.
    因此,作者猜想未來會有更多供科學家使用的高等數學機器出現。
    For this reason there will come more machines to handle advanced mathematics for the scientist.

V. 機器協助資料篩選 Selection

  • 現在我們可以快速增加資料,但卻很難找到想要的資料。
    Thus far we seem to be worse off than before - for we can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it.
    這涉及到人類獲取知識進行傳承的過程,而這主要的動作就是篩選。
    …it involves the entire process by which man profits by his inheritance of acquired knowledge. The prime action of use is selection…
  • 作者介紹以乾燥攝影技術製成的卡片作為資料文本,並組成快速篩選機器,以協助身分核對、購物交易等任務。
    • 並提到卡片可以縮影處理與利用光電管、磁性點等方式改進。

VI. 記憶擴大機 Memex

  • 篩選的問題通常是來自於索引是由系統給定。
    基於人類思維模式,篩選應該是透過聯想,而非固定的索引。
    Selection by association, rather than by indexing, may yet be mechanized.
  • Memex 記憶擴大機:個人儲存所有資料與通訊的設備,可以快速並靈活地存取資料。它是人類記憶的擴大裝置。
    A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
    • 外表有著半透明的螢幕、鍵盤、按鈕、操作桿組成的書桌。
    • 遠端操作以微縮膠卷保存的儲存裝置。
    • 可進行檢索、瀏覽、閱讀、筆記。

VII. 關聯索引:軌跡 Trail

  • Memex第一步應該要做的是關聯式索引:把兩件條目連結在一起,讓使用者可從一件條目直接選擇到另一條。
    If affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.
  • 各種條目的結合就像是一本新書,而這些條目更組成了無數的軌跡。
    It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.
    • 使用者可以在幾十本相關書籍和文章中連結大量條目,形成自己的興趣軌跡。
      He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. … Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. ... Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him.

VIII-1. 關聯軌跡網路的用途

  • 大量的關聯軌跡組成了全新的百科全書,並投入到Memex中擴大應用。
    Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.
    • 化學家瀏覽化學相關文獻的時候,可以透過軌跡找到化合物詳細資料,並從軌跡週邊得到化合物的物理與化學特性。
      The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.
    • 大師留給後人的不僅僅只是資料記錄,還包括他建立的知識鷹架。
      The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected

VIII-2. 資訊接收方式的未來

  • 人們接受資訊的方式往往透過感官處理,未來是否有更直接的接收方式?
  • 未來資訊可能可以透過電子脈衝訊號直接輸入頭腦,給人帶來閱讀筆墨記錄的訊息。
    With a couple of electrodes on the skull the encephalograph now produces pen-and-ink traces which bear some relation to the electrical phenomena going on in the brain itself.
    • 而記錄本身就變得難以定義。(註:因為需要資訊時就可以直接傳送到大腦,不需要實際上的紙筆載體。)
      True, the record is unintelligible, except as it points out certain gross misfunctioning of the cerebral mechanism…
  • 人們可以活得更開心:在事情不重要的時候選擇忘掉他們,然後在事情變得重要時馬上取得這些資訊。
    His excursion may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.

感想

  • 本篇綜合了許多當時實際的科學進展以及部分作者對未來的想像,而這些想像至今仍有許多是我們想要前進的目標。這究竟是預言、還是這是一個影響全世界的計畫起端呢?
  • 我特別喜歡關聯軌跡的那個想法,至今這仍然是很熱門且令人感興趣的研究議題。
  • 本文夾雜大量攝影、化學、生物技術專有用詞,作者提出的想法有些是對現有技術的改進建議,有些是用用譬喻、想像的方式來想像未來,實在是很不好讀。一些技術細節的部份我就略過了,因為現在應該會有更好的作法就是。

讀完之後,才真的有種自己是在做資訊科學的感覺,也算是一種個人的成就吧。

總共2 則留言, (我要發問)

  1. 非常感謝你這篇的一些解析與重點摘要,給了我很多幫助:)

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