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Re: Machine vs. Human [response to Mr. Wright]

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Wontae Kim wrote:

Mr. Wright,

You are understanding exactly what I am looking for.

Why don't you expand your FEA argument into ACI, AISC, or AASHTO?

[In reality, many decisions are made by non-technical staff.

For example, when I need to purchase a engineering software in my company,

I have to make IT engineer and network administrator understand what and why I need it in additon to boss.

These people do not have any knowledge at all about the structural engineering.]

This is generally an indication the IT has too much "power" in your organization. They should require only the technical needs of the software you and your boss are ordering. If the requirements are such that a new server or system is necessary, they can pass that cost up to management to determine the cost/benefit. If IT requires that you justify the upgrade to them, they are out of bounds - they are there to serve you, not the other way around. Sadly, this is common in the corporate world, as the IT group is what keeps the CEOs internet connection undisrupted so he can track his stock portfolio during the day.

If some upper level people who do not have technical background believe a software can replace drafters

and engieers in NEAR FUTURE (say, within two or three years) and decide to invest millions of dollars

 into software development project, what can you do as an engineer?

Do you think that their decision makes sense?

Certainly, if it has financial payback for the company. The downside is that you need somebody to keep an eye on the software. As with everything, some companies will try it, and will - mostly - come to a bad end because there is little value in this type of design. If the computers were making items for other computers it would be one thing, but they are making products for humans, and humans are very complex consumers. As with most areas, the number of people in the field will likely be decreased.

At some point with more critical items (power plants, for example), somebody in the approval process will stand up and ask, "how do you know that it is safe?" If several thousand are being made, the company can simply break a representative sample and prove it. For larger items & smaller quantities - buildings, for example - there is no proof testing that can be done at the system level. I don't think that unsupervised computers will be taken as the only verification for such things in our lifetimes. There is too much in the way of politics, practicality, and human nature. For example, I offer the flying car. Literature of the late 19th century predicted we would all have them in the middle of the 20th century. I'm still waiting for Moller to get their production machine on the market - it was promised more than 20 years ago.

As for what we do as engineers? We wait, and we charge huge consulting fees to fix things when they go wrong. Or, we figure out what the next problem is to solve that can't be solved by computers. That's why we're here, right?


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