"Man-computer symbiosis is an expected development in cooperative interaction
between men and electronic computers. It will involve very close
coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership.
The main aims are 1) to let computers facilitate formulative thinking
as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and 2) to enable
men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex
situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs.
In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate
the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing
machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare
the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary
analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual
operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them.
Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association
include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in
memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output
The fig tree is pollinated only by the insect Blastophaga grossorun. The
larva of the insect lives in the ovary of the fig tree, and there it gets its
food. The tree and the insect are thus heavily interdependent: the tree
cannot reproduce wit bout the insect; the insect cannot eat wit bout the tree;
together, they constitute not only a viable but a productive and thriving
partnership. This cooperative “living together in intimate association, or
even close union, of two dissimilar organisms” is called symbiosis .
“Man-computer symbiosis” is a subclass of man-machine systems. There
are many man-machine systems. At present, however, there are no mancomputer
symbioses. The purposes of this paper are to present the concept
and, hopefully, to foster the development of man-computer symbiosis by analyzing
some problems of interaction between men and computing machines,
calling attention to applicable principles of man-machine engineering, and
pointing out a few questions to which research answers are needed. The
hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines
will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will
think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not
approached by the information-handling machines we know today."
Excerto do artigo de J.C.R. Licklider escrito em 1960.