Will Machines Make Humans Obsolete?


The following blog will conclude this three-part series based on course material in DITA. Material covered in session seven to nine will be discussed to an extent. Placing focus on artificial intelligence and its impact upon humans. Enjoy!

Coming from a scientific background I’ve always been taught the importance of numbers. That numbers ultimately prove the prominence of subject matter. We measure numbers to get a better understanding of the meaning of what is being looked at. In LIS we can consider the use of technological tools which allow resources to be pulled based on qualitative and/or quantitative statistics. Some tools discussed such as Altmetrics gather material from various sources allowing users to have a wide range of resources regardless of their platform. The importance of measuring such resources is to show the relevance of the topic being researched as well as allowing the researcher to view the metrics associated alongside feedback. Such tools as Altmetrics can be very resourceful when conducting research.

In our INM341 class one of the first exercises was to name categories of LIS collections as shown in the figure below. As a class we collectively generated a word cloud only later to understand it’s importance in INM348. Word clouds are essentially a textual tool used in data visualization. Their use is highly effective when attempting to visually communicate important information. For instance, the word cloud below shows categories of LIS collections. As you can see there are words that are in a larger font then others, this is because the term appeared more than once on several occasions. Word clouds are useful in LIS when compiling information to summarize in a visual context.


Artificial intelligence can be best described as machines exhibiting intelligence. In the LIS field we can see how artificial intelligence has ultimately taken over middle class jobs. Stephen Hawkings mentions “Technology has already gutted many traditional manufacturing and working class jobs — but now it may be poised to wreak similar havoc with the middle classes”. Just like that you can recognize how the use of computers and technology has slowly cut the demand for certain professions within LIS. For instance, the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) within libraries. RFID tags are placed within library materials to identify and track material this is done by using an electromagnetic tag. The use of RFID has taken libraries to another level making the task of customer service professionals less in demand. With the use of RFID there’s no need for interactions with staff a customer can ultimately check material out without any assistance. We know see the use of checking in material being automated as well. Spending millions of dollars on such software to make the process simpler and reliable essentially. With such technological advancements occurring in this day and age where do we stand as humans when looking for such middle class careers?

We’re living in a digital age where technology has become the forefront of our lives but have you ever thought about technology taking over? To be frank this is something that I’ve always thought about but have never really researched nor looked into. Our last session of DITA really opened my eyes to this world of artificial intelligence and I began to make connections with the role technology has played in our society. At the turn of the 21st century we’re entering an era where we turn to technology to write our wrongs, to give us directions and so on. My main concern with artificial intelligence is that it will ultimately take over the use of humans in many forms.

Before we know it the role of Librarians and LIS professionals will become obsolete and the work of artificial intelligence will take over.

#citylis #INM348

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Connecting the Dots

And the game of dominoes is much like life. You gotta play the bones you’ve pulled. It don’t matter if you got seven doubles in your damn hand.                        -S.B. Redd

The following blog will reflect on the connections that I’ve made with course material covered weeks three to six. All material taught won’t be covered but rather a reflection of the key aspects and there connections throughout.

We took a look at metadata and how it can be described as data that is used to describe other data. For instance, in order to better comprehend metadata it helps to look at the different forms of metadata and how it adheres to everyday life. There are three definite types of metadata which is subsist: structural, descriptive and administrative. Structural metadata takes a look at the vessels of data so you can find data within data. An example of structural metadata would be that information found within a magazine while the magazine is the vessel of data. Descriptive data takes a look at the information within the data from an intellectual perspective by analyzing aspects of the metadata such as a document and how long it is and so on. Administrative data places focus on metadata which is private and/or public whether it looks at emails or phone calls of a company or government documents containing the metadata.

From metadata we moved on to look at the ways in which bibliographic metadata and internet metadata have come to be. Anglo- American Cataloguing Rules (AARC) is a descriptive cataloging method that was used prior to its successor Resource Description and Access (RDA) which is currently the standard method used to frame bibliographic data. RDA organizes descriptive bibliographic metadata in a structural format based on Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). FRBR uses various ideologies to formulate a hierarchy when it comes to organizing bibliographic data as well as making connections amongst the data. When it comes to internet metadata there’s an initiative used known as the Dublin Core which ultimately links terminology that is used to describe internet resources.

Machine Readable Cataloging better known as MARC 21 is a format used to organize bibliographic data. When you look at a book there are different ways to interpret the information surrounding the various elements such as title, author and so forth. BIBFRAME will soon replace MARC21 as it is also a bibliographic framework that has evolved to make bibliographic descriptions more organized. While MARC21 lists descriptions BIBFRAME allows for information to be grouped together in a more abstract format with three core levels being work, instance and item. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web came up with the terms linked data as well as the semantic web which identify the way in which we are able to find data today. Linked data allows for data to be interlinked with other data allowing for that data to become more useful. While I’m on google I can type in Toronto Raptors and up to date information would be linked. The semantic web is a framework which allows for the use and reuse of data across different platforms. With the semantic web and BIBFRAME I find that more data about certain topics can be found because of the linked data that will draw together the various resources.

Application programming interfaces are codes which allow for software programs to connect with one another. The best way to understand an API is by observing one like the Google API. I for one primarily use my Gmail account for everything. With Google API it has been able to track my home location and work location with the use of google maps. I’ve never put my home location nor work location in google maps but because of the map software it was able to track my frequent locations. If I go into google while my email is open type in home or work google maps brings the exact location up. With such API’s existing it makes me think how strong software interfaces are working to make connections amongst one another without the use of a human involvement.

Six weeks into DITA and I must say all I can think about is how all the course material that we’ve learned thus far seems like a game of dominoes. From week one to where we were introduced to data and how it relates to information to week six where we learn to work with data and the various ways we can retrieve information from the web, databases and API’s. As every week goes on I realize the correlation with the material that we’ve learned in previous sessions and how it pertains to the LIS profession.

#citylis # INM348

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This is the first reflective post of a series of three that will be based on the module INM348, Digital Information Technologies and Architectures. Material discussed in both sessions and tutorials will be covered in the blog posts alongside any other relevant information that pertains to the course. Here goes my first post! Enjoy!

Data? What does the term even mean? Coming into class I assumed the more quantitative definition assuming that it was a set of numerical variables. After class I realized that there was more to the topic then I knew most definitely. Data can be described as a qualitative variable that we can interpret as what is given. Data can also be described as a quantitative variable with a numerical variable of sort. So how do we begin to understand what data is? We must look at the relationship between data and information. How does data become information? How do we interpret data into information? These are important questions to reflect upon when looking at the topic of data and information. We can begin to understand data by looking at the various ways of collecting data and then attempt to comprehend how to filter data into information. What is relevant? What is presentable? What is engaging? All questions that assist in putting information out that is in return meaningful data. In my perspective data will forever continue to get larger and it will only exceed that of human intellectual capacity. American futurist Raymond Kurzweil describes this as exponential growth and the whole world is accelerating with the amount of data that is being stored and has surpassed that of human being’s functional memory.

“You will be assimilated” following the first session which allowed myself to acknowledge data and how we process it into information we took a look into the development of information architectures which allow us to make understanding information. Computers and the internet play a keen role in the development of information architectures such as websites and databases which provide individuals to grasp information in various formats. We’re in the 21st century where digital information can be accessed by all young and old, my 2-year-old nephew has an iPad and can access Netflix with ease. The development of the computer and internet over time makes me wonder what will our society be like at the turn of the 22nd century. Will computers become obsolete as tablets have?

To conclude this blog, I have realized that data can never become information right away there’s various steps in filtering data before it becomes valuable information. Understanding the connection between data and information and how it is represented in a digital form with the use of the computer and other forms of information architectures that will only continue to grow as time goes. When looking at the importance of what has been discussed in sessions and tutorials thus far it relates to Library and Information Science students as we are curators who are the forefront of information and technology services.