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Live Free or Die Hard July 9, 2007

Posted by Wendy Wolfe in On Teaching, Random Thoughts.
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Sunday was a really hot day around here (99+ degrees and humid ICK!) so we decided to go to see the newest Die Hard movie. I know, the Die Hard movies do not have deep plots or writing, but I really enjoy them so we sat down in our stadium seats ready to be entertained. If you have seen/read the trailers or have seen the movie, you know the storyline, cyberterrorism drives the show.

Why write about this? While watching the movie, especially the first half of the film, I could not help but think, “This is what happens when people rely too much on computers and throw logic out the window.” No-one quickly tested anything in the movie, most of the characters (especially the government officials) let the computers think for them. In CSI New York’s season finale this year, their lab is attacked and while the computers tell them there is a problem, Mac does not lose logic – he uses it to see the alarms are false.

But life is not the media, is it? Last night we had dinner with my parents and my dad shared a story about going to the grocery store and the computer screens at the checkout not only told how much change to give, but walked the cashier through which compartments in the cash drawer to access to make the change correctly. I know Karl Fisch’s “Did you know” piece (and all of the iterations that have followed) addresses how the computational abilities of the computers will exceed that of the human brain in the not-too-distant future, but I truly hope that we still remember to use logic to drive those powerful tools, not the other way around, and that we teach our students to do the same.

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