Rote instruments consist of large numbers of a few types of basic components, each of which performs a rather simple task. The accomplishment of complex tasks is possible through intricate interconnections (programming) between the components. The important principles of operation reside in the program, and by changing the program the instrument can be put to different uses. New problems can be approached in a straightforward, intellectual, bureaucratic, "systems", manner. The solutions will be elementaristic and often a bit clumsy.But, I also am very unsure what Runeson takes to be the "targets" of his exposition. When I look at the anatomy and physiology of human beings, I see structures, namely, neural networks, that seem to me to consist of many parts that are "programmable". But, I don't see what structure Runeson takes to "consist of few but specialized components". This is not to say that there aren't or couldn't be. It's that I am unsure what he is talking about. Is the retina one of the few, but specialized components? Is the lateral geniculate nucleus another? And area V1 another? I don't know. This, too, is an expository issue.
Smart instruments are specialized on a particular (type of) task in a particular (type of) situation and capitalize on the peculiarities of the situation and the task, i.e. use shortcuts, etc. They consist of few but specialized components. For solving problems which are repeated very often, smart instruments, if they exist, are more efficient and more economical. They are also likely to be more reliable and durable. Solution of a new problem requires the invention of a new instrument. A straightforward and bureaucratic procedure is not likely to achieve that, since the task is creative and just as much intuitive as intellectual. (Runeson, 1977, pp. 173-4).
Friday, November 5, 2010
What's the "Target" of Runeson's Smart-Rote Distinction
In posts on this topic a week or so ago, I was harping on what appears to me to be the messiness of this smart-rote distinction. It is not clear to me how particular cases are supposed to be classified. There seem to me to be cases that have both features of rote mechanisms and features of smart mechanisms. So, this seems to me to be an expository issue.