Simulation and Its Discontents
How the simulation and visualization technologies so pervasive in science, engineering, and design have changed our way of seeing the world.
Over the past twenty years, the technologies of simulation and visualization have changed our ways of looking at the world. In Simulation and Its Discontents, Sherry Turkle examines the now dominant medium of our working lives and finds that simulation has become its own sensibility. We hear it in Turkle's description of architecture students who no longer design with a pencil, of science and engineering students who admit that computer models seem more "real" than experiments in physical laboratories.
Echoing architect Louis Kahn's famous question, "What does a brick want?", Turkle asks, "What does simulation want?" Simulations want, even demand, immersion, and the benefits are clear. Architects create buildings unimaginable before virtual design; scientists determine the structure of molecules by manipulating them in virtual space; physicians practice anatomy on digitized humans. But immersed in simulation, we are vulnerable. There are losses as well as gains. Older scientists describe a younger generation as "drunk with code." Young scientists, engineers, and designers, full citizens of the virtual, scramble to capture their mentors' tacit knowledge of buildings and bodies. From both sides of a generational divide, there is anxiety that in simulation, something important is slipping away. Turkle's examination of simulation over the past twenty years is followed by four in-depth investigations of contemporary simulation culture: space exploration, oceanography, architecture, and biology.
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Simulation is ubiquitous yet its own effects are yet to be fully understood.
"These projections, 'inhabiting the rover,' occur especially as the scientists formalize and visualize plans for the next day in computer simulations." (p118)
Human cognition seems designed for prediction to make it easier to decide, act and survive. Regular consciousness derives from the interface between mind and world. Expectations are implicit. Simulation makes them explicit, discussable, testable and modifiable. It is learned in theatre, games and education. Computation can use specific content or realtime mining. Probabilities can be assigned for decision support.
"As is the case when we study scientific controversy, looking at discontents is a way to discover deep commitments." (p5)
The author is an expert on social tech. This book has a history of CAD, architectural and civil, and recent cases of biological and environmental projects. Observations are made on psychology of science. It looks at clusters of software, metaphor, dynamics, user-interface, modelers and how methods and tools introduce an altered state and constrain engineering practice. It does not go into details of electronics design and test, e.g. for use cases and mockups.
Incidentally, Amazon ebook PC reader did not yet have search as pdf's do, but it is valuable to be able to select indexed topic links to content. Thanks
THE VIEW FROM THE 1980s
BECOMING A ROVER
KEEPERS OF THE GEOMETRY
PERFORMING THE PROTEIN FOLD
William J Clancey
About the Authors