Abstract

This paper addresses the human aspects of change at a time when the rapid wide-spread implementation of a new infostructure has become the cornerstone of national security policies. The author explores the behavioral characteristics of human beings from a point of view that is not based on inter-human comparisons, but on an examination of the innate physical, biological, intellectual, emotional, and social characteristics of our species. It is argued that the experience-based nature of the human cognitive system greatly reduces our ability to adapt to changes in our environment, exploit opportunities, and create new knowledge. A fundamental biological survival instinct drives the human being to seek a level of certainty and security that is irreconcilable with a continuously changing and largely unpredictable environment. The symptoms of this distinctly human struggle manifest themselves in a strong resistance to change and an emotional aversion to experimentation and risk taking.

As an example that is currently of critical importance, the paper discusses the reluctance of human beings to accept computers as any more than unintelligent computational machines. Focusing on the collection and analysis of intelligence data in a post-Sep.11 (2001) world that is subjected to the constant threat of terrorism, the author points out the human obstacles that have delayed the necessary paradigm shift from data-centric to information-centric software. By presenting an assessment of human weaknesses and strengths the paper attempts to provide some useful insights into human behavioral characteristics that will tend to create a great deal of tension during this critical period of accelerated change.

It is the humble hope of the author that the notions expressed in this paper will provide cause for further thought and deliberation, and may contribute in some useful manner to diffusing the intense human intellectual and emotional struggles that characterize periods of rapid change. Specifically, the author is greatly concerned that these human struggles may further delay the utilization of higher level computer capabilities, at a time when such capabilities are so desperately needed.

Disciplines

Software Engineering

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cadrc/69