Wednesday, February 28, 2007

About Human Computability...

Going back to childhood, and before landing into the "land of opportunities" I always had (or probably was an inherited) pre-conceived notion that, Indians are good at computability. While in history books we used to take pride in our Aryabhattas and Bhaskaracharyas, I never got a scope to explore the notion or cull it into a practically validated fact in reality till today.
Nevertheless, today morning came as a surprise: a proof of this deep-and-old seated notion that even if agreed Indians' computation capability is better, how is it so? How is the degree of that? Or is it something else? Well, I am not a racist or an overtly patriotic individual, but beleive me I was taken aback when I got a 'parametric' view of the difference in computability between the folks from the East and the West!
Somehow, in a class of mine where there are undergraduates too, a topic cropped up: how long did you learn arithmetic tables? Basically the professor was casually asking us, what is the highest number of whose table you had memorized in primary school. He said, "Probably 12, right?" Then someone(one undergraduate) interrupted, "No! more for me! I learnt till 15!" Then there was a big "wow"! I was sitting quiet and smiling to myself. Then I thought, okay, let me give them the shock of their lives. I said, "I learnt till25!"
And then the situation in the class: don't ask me what happenned!
Well, generally, they were telling me later, that even for 13*5 they would use a calculator! I don't know if this degree of technology dependency is good or bad, but I am sure, this is destroying the natural computability of humans. I will not talk of Asia and The West separately. Because I believe, computability is not intelligence: it can be acquired by any. And when they say, they carry a scientific calculator/PDA with them all the time which they specifically use for the four basic mathematical operations: add, subtract, multiply, divide, I can only arrive at two conclusions.
One, this is a direct affect of too much technology dependence which is interfering with people's computational growth. Or the second, am I too out-dated, old-fashioned, obsolete looking at today's undergraduates, despite the fact that I myself was an undergraduate only 2 years ago? The answer is a question to me!

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