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Re: Machine vs. Human

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On May 5, 2006, at 8:28 AM, Wontae Kim wrote:

I heard some softwares are trying to incorporate drafting, structural analysis and miscellaneous functions.
There's such a thing as CAD software that incorporates FEA capability and FEA software that incorporates multi-physics analysis and some crude 'optimization.' Is that what you mean?

If you're talking about software that exercises intelligent judgment, you'll get different answers depending on who you ask. Software vendors will tell you their packages do design and analysis, but that's an overstatement, usually because they don't understand the scope of the kinds of judgment calls required for engineering design. For example some FEA software may be able to run iteratively and find 'optimum' proportions of a flat plate end closure for a cylindrical pressure vessel, but it won't tell you the reasons why a flat plate closure is such a rotten idea. And it won't give you the least rotten alternatives based on things like material delivery and shop labor constraints.

In short there's a fair amount of software that will do a lot of the arithmetic thaqta most engineers do and the same package that does one kind of arithmetic can do other types. What software cannot do is apply the arithmetic intelligently nor can it draw conclusions from ambiguous results the way the human mind can. Maybe someday when someone figures out what real intelligence is, then perhaps we'll know something about artificial intelligence, and then maybe computers can help us with engineering decisions that necessarily need to balance a lot of off-optimum constraints.
Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)       | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
____________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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