One fundamental framework that I was always really impressed with and found basically true to life was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the stages of growth in human beings, and it portray’s people focusing on their more primitive needs first and then progressing on to fulfilling higher order needs, as the lower ones are satisfied.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs–starts with addressing our basic Physiological needs for food, water, shelter, clothing and so on; then Safety covers our needs for safety and security; followed by social needs for love and companionship; next is Self-esteem which is our need for respect and value; and finally is Self-actualization where we actually fulfill our potential.
What occurred to me is that computing is an aid for us to fulfill our human needs, and as such we can map a Hierarchy of Computing to the Hierarchy of Needs.
The result is a “Hierarchy of Computing,” as follows:
– Automation–helps us produce the sustenance items that we need for our physiological needs and includes everything from agricultural plows and harvesters to production line automation and systems.
– Weaponization–this is the systemization of everything supporting our homeland security, military, and intelligence apparatus from nukes to drones, satellites, missile shields, cyber and bioweapons, and more.
– Social/Mobile–these are technologies and apps that help us communicate and interact with one another, whenever and wherever we are.
– Business Intelligence–addressing Big Data, this is the capability to capture, catalog, analyze, locate, and report information to drive value, power, and respect.
– Ethical–the use of technology to aid timely decision-making and meaningful, value-driven action–helps us choose and execute right from wrong and is the ultimate in progressing toward our self-actualization.
I struggled with where Robotics fits in this hierarchy and I decided that robotics is not a specific layer in the hierarchy of computing itself, but rather is a application of the technology that can be applied at every level. For example, robotics can aid automation on the assembly line or it can be used for safety to defuse roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan or they can be applied to social needs as nursing and home aids for the elderly and handicapped and so on.
I am excited by this alignment of the Computing Hierarchy to the Needs Hierarchy in that it provides a framework for advances and application of technology to supporting our very humanity.
(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)