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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Humans And Their Ability To Make Mistakes - 1275 words
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Humans And Their Ability To Make Mistakes In today's pop culture, there is one very popular view of the future.All humans will be free to do as they wish, because robots and computers willwork for us. Computers are viewed as the ideal slaves. They work non-stop, nevercomplain, and above all, never make mistakes. It is often said that computersdon't make mistakes, that it is the person using the computer who commits errors.What is it that makes humans err, but not computers? I will prove that it issimply the way humans are built that makes us commit errors. Unlike computers,built of mechanical or electronic parts, humans are made of organic matter andnerve pathways.
These same pathways, with the help of the brain are responsiblefor all the decision making. I shall demonstrate why humans err, despite thefact that we have eyes and ears to sense with. Before I can establish causes for error, I shall define the terms'error' and 'mistake'. In the context of this essay, they will simply mean thata human obtained a result different from the expected, correct one. Whether itin be adding two numbers, or calling someone by the wrong name, these are allerrors that a computer would not make
An error can also be interpreted as beinga wrong physical move. If a person is walking in the woods and trips on a branch,it is because the person erred in the sense of watching the path followed.There is no doubt in anyone's mind that humans make mistakes all thetime. Let us simply analyze any process in which there is a chance for someoneto commit an error. Take for example a cashier in a grocery store. The cashierobtains the total on the cash register, and receives a twenty dollar bill fromthe customer.
She must now give the patron back his/her change. The cashregister tells the cashier that the client is owed 4.60$. The cashier thenreaches into her change drawer to retrieve the proper set of coins. This iswhere the opportunity for error increases. What if the cashier only gives thecustomer back $4.55, because she mistakenly returned a nickel instead of a dime?What caused this blunder? Would this blunder have happened if the cashier hadhad 15 minutes to decide on how much change to return instead of 15 seconds?Logically speaking, we can establish that if the cashier had 15 minutes toselect the proper set of coins, she probably wouldn't have made a mistake.
Thisis due to the fact that she would have taken more time in figuring out whichcoins to choose and would even have had time to review her decision severaltimes. What can we deduce from this discussion? Humans are more prone to makemistakes if they are rushed than if they have lots of time to do an operation.There are many other examples. If you give a class a math exam, but restrictthem to 15 minutes, we can be almost certain that they will get a lower markthan the same class doing the same test in one hour. The reason is fairly simple.Our brains and senses simply do not react fast enough. That is why computers areso renown for their dependability in terms of errors.
Computers can performthousands more operations per second than a human with no chance of error. Thisis due to the construction of these machines. Their inanimate parts are betteradapted to executing these operations at very high speeds. Let us take another example. A man is adding up a column of numbers.
Wewill pretend that this individual has a basic knowledge of math. The mistakes hemight make, if any, will not be due to his lack of knowledge of the basicaddition rules. He sits down with a sheet of paper with a list of many threedigit numbers. What kinds of errors can he commit, and why? While adding up thenumbers, he might mistake a 7 for a 1 and add the numbers together wrong. Hemight, while adding, disregard a number once in a while.
All these possiblemistakes would lead to the wrong final answer, but what causes these errors?Once again, the time factor is very important. Given the chance to redo hiscalculations another 99 times, he would certainly produce the correct finalanswer. The reason he committed errors was simply that he was doing an actionfaster that his brain and eyes could handle with 100% accuracy. It seems thatour brains can compute complex operations that allow us to drive a car throughterrible weather conditions, at night, but all these operations cannot beaccomplished within too short a time limit. So far, we have discussed the speed at which the brain can computeoperations without error.
We must consider other factors which can also lead tomistakes. To explain other types of error, I will use a terminology developedand used by the philosopher Bertrand Russell. He identifies something calledsense data. Sense data is the data received by our senses from the object being'sensed'. For instance, if a person is looking at a red apple, the shape andcolor and all other aspects of this apple are received in the form of sense data.In the case of the man adding up the numbers, he mistook a 7 for a 1. Whatreally happened is that his senses misidentified the number.
The sense data wasreceived by his eyes, which then converted this information into an electricalsignal to be sent to the brain for analysis. There are thus two possibilities.Either the eyes did not transform the signal of the 7 properly, or the brainmisunderstood the signal received from the eyes. In both cases, the sense datawas analyzed incorrectly, leading to an error in the final calculation. Some skeptics might criticize my position by saying that, no matter howmuch time a person has to complete a job, he or she might still commit errors.In the example of the cashier that I used earlier, one might say that althoughshe had 15 minutes to select 3 different coins, that she still might make amistake. One could justify this position by saying that this is due to a lack ofattention.
If a person has 15 minutes to complete a simple task, they will payvery little attention to the details. If the coin is slightly worn out, and thecashier is not paying attention, then she will pick it up by mistake. Moreover,once the coin is selected, she will assume that it is the right one, so thateven if she checks the coins before handing them to the customer, she mightsimply assume that she has selected the correct amount. My answer to thisposition is fairly clear. No matter how little attention she pays to the job sheis doing, that is not where the error lies.
If she is distracted while pickingup the coins in question, then her senses are not receiving and analyzing thesense datum properly, or thoroughly. This is simply a more complex case of whatI described earlier, with the man mistaking a 7 for a 1. The individual is notdrawing the right conclusion from the sense data received. In light of the examples and discussions presented, I think is safe tosay that human error is due to the fact that the brain can only functionperfectly up to a certain speed. Also, the five human senses do not alwaysproperly interpret the sense data received, causing the brain to make mistakes.Not paying attention to what one is doing is not a reason for making a mistake.It is the repercussions of this behavior that cause the error, because theperson is not using his/her senses properly. In conclusion, it is understandablethat humans make mistakes despite the fact that our senses receive sense datafrom objects surrounding us.
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