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The Media Equation and the Positive and Negative Influences on Society - Article Review

Essay by   •  November 3, 2011  •  Article Review  •  939 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,751 Views

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Abstract

The article entitled "The Media Equation" is based on research gathered from a project called Social Responses to Communication Technologies. The project's findings show that individuals interact with computers, televisions and new media in a fundamentally social and natural way. Before the experiment, researchers suggested that the cause of real life interactions with media were due in part by lack of education, lack of experience or simply by distractions. But as the project's evidence shows, all people, no matter their age or education, automatically and unconsciously respond to media as if it were human.

How is this phenomenon possible? The researcher's reasoning is based on the thought that our society has not adjusted to twentieth-century technology. Anything that mimics social behavior is automatically perceived as real to a human, no matter how ridiculous the situation may seem to a spectator. But aside from the humor that comes with these findings, there are accomplishments that come from understanding that media is equal to real life. By understanding the media equation, society can improve the design of media, evaluate new media more effectively, develop new research methods and reconsider significant issues of media today. This report will discuss how the media equation does indeed better our society in some cases; however, it will also show how it worsens it in others.

How the Media Equation Can Benefit Our Society

In studying the media equation, the researcher not only came to the conclusion that people interact socially with media, but that this relationship can lead to societal progression. One of the phases of this societal progression that the researcher discussed was improving the design of media. As humans, we are naturally savvy when it comes to social relationships and the physical world. But as mentioned before, humans are not born with the natural instincts to operate media. These are traits that must be learned. However, if media's design improves in a way that allows it to function within the social and natural rules of our environment, then technology usage can become a natural process. Media expertise could be instant and therefore, media usage would be more productive.

A recent example of improving the format of media took place in February 2011. In front of a national audience, IBM's super computer Watson defeated Jeopardy's most prestigious contestants. Specifically, Watson is a computer that can answer questions that are verbally composed in a natural language, a type of artificial intelligence that researchers have worked on for decades (Markoff, 2011). But winning a game show is not the end for Watson; it is merely the beginning. IBM is working with Columbia University and the University of Maryland in efforts to format Watson into a cybernetic physician's assistant. In this case, Watson would be used as a reference to doctors when treating patients. IBM is also working with major electronics retailers in efforts to format Watson to better the consumer experience, whether by assisting with buying decisions or technical support (Markoff, 2011). Watson may be one of the major scientific breakthroughs of our young

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