Are we becoming simpler?

Genki Takiuchi is worried about the consequences if CAPTCHAs are broken.

Our activities on the Internet is [sic] too simple to recognize ourselves as human beings. There are only click, click, click many clicks and sometimes typings. Needless to say about clicks, nowadays, even typings are easy to be imitated [sic] by using algorithms of a sort of Markov-chain.

The Markov chain algorithm mentioned refers to a process where a word is looked up in a database of words. The next word following this current word is determined by probabilities based on the language used (the common one being English). And so on and so forth, until a complete sentence is formed, which may not make sense to a human, but computers can’t really tell the difference. Then again, lorem ipsum‘s don’t make much sense too…

Imagine the irony of creating artificial intelligence complex enough to pass the Turing test, yet we are simplifying our behaviour to the point where we’re indistinguishable from infant bots.

What exactly happens during the clicking and flitting from site to site? It appears to be something commonly attributed to (though not confined to) an age group known as Generation Y (born roughly between 1980 to 1994). If you belong to this group, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Because Takiuchi is concerned. So am I.

Generation Y programmers

I guess I could be labelled as old-fashioned. I grew up knowing DOS and remembered being ecstatic over typing something on the command line and getting an output. When I was in university, Netscape was the browser, I used the vi editor to code on Unix, and Neopets and ICQ were the rage.

I’ve seen some truly horrendous applications. Truly and totally ugly interfaces. I’ve dealt with Delphi and PowerBuilder legacy applications, and had maintained my fair share of web applications. Sometimes, the user experience in those applications were downright hostile.

So when I read this article mentioning the younger workforce, I was stunned by this:

Will Generation Y, who is accustomed to Facebook Applications, Google Docs, Rich internet application interfaces, and advanced web technology (all public) be shocked to find out how bad your enterprise software is?

I’m still reeling from the implications…

Some of my users are, shall we say, sheltered from all the bling on the Internet nowadays. They are quite content to accept some of the user interface inconsistencies. Roundabout and duplicate methods of getting things done pop up, yet they are unfazed by the inconvenience.

How will the younger generation of programmers react to this? They’ve seen all the slick interfaces. How will companies react to them? Companies might be very attached to their legacy applications.

Hip young programmers. Hideous user interfaces. Hmm… Either the programmers spruce up applications from inside the companies, or companies stifle their energy, their passion with corporate rules.

Or maybe something fantastic will come out of this. What do you think?