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Public Image of Engineering

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The engineer's public image is somewhat distorted, not only due to the confusion in the interpretation of words as discussed above. The layman tends to view the engineer's endeavors as being somewhat mechanical. He imagines that the engineer, given a problem to solve, proceeds to the solution by the application of certain formulae, tables, and graphs; nothing more. The art of engineering is not generally appreciated, yet it is a rare problem indeed that does not give rise to a host of workable solutions. The engineer in fact synthesizes knowledge from many vastly different areas in reaching acceptable solutions.

The engineer's image suffers further in comparisons with the medical and legal professions, where the point at which professional status is achieved is clearly recognized, and where responsibility to the public is readily apparent. There is a very small number of engineers who feel the need to be unionized and thus create a somewhat different image to the public. Furthermore, the societies which, by one method or another, endeavor to develop a professional consciousness among en­gineers can only claim an estimated membership of approximately one in three. Also, roughly one engineer in four is legally registered, a require­ment in certain stales for specific engineering activities. The patchwork is further confounded by the fact dial a large number, probably more than 40 percent, of the practicing engineers in the United Stales do not have a college degree. No wonder the public has some difficulty in clearly recognizing who comprise the engineering profession.

Also engineering is somewhat tainted in the public eye. It is recognized that technology, or its misapplication, is responsible for the various pollution threats and also for devastating weapons of war, and the public assumes that it is the engineers who have brought us to this pass. It should he realized that technology, too operates according to demand, and just as the demand for goods and comfort has led to environmental damage, so technology can also correct this. In one sense engineers with their machines are the tools of society, and it is society that ultimately determines how they are to be used.


Vocabulary to the text:

image - образ;

somewhat - нечто;

distorted - искаженный;

due to - из-за;

above - выше;

layman - неспециалист;

to tend - иметь тенденцию, быть свойственным;

to view - рассматривать;

endeavor - попытка, старание; здесь: действие;

to imagine - представлять, воображать;

to proceed - приниматься (за), переходить (к);

certain - некий, некоторый, определенный;

to appreciate - ценить;

rare - редкий;

rise - подъем, увеличение; начало;

host - здесь: множество;

vastly - очень, чрезвычайно;

to reach - здесь: найти;

acceptable - приемлемый, допустимый;

solution - решение;

to suffer (from) - страдать (от);

in comparison with - по сравнению с.., в сравнении с..;

point - точка, пункт; черта;

to achieve - достигать;

to recognize - признавать, различать;

responsibility - ответственность, обязанность;

apparent - очевидный, явный;

to unionize - объединяться в (профессиональные) союзы;

thus - таким образом;

to create - создавать, творить;

futhermore - более того;

society - общество;

consciousness - сознание, сознательность;

to claim - утверждать;

to estimate - оценивать;

approximately - приблизительно;

roughly - грубо;

legally - юридически, официально;

requirement - требование;

patchwork - одеяло, покрывало и т.п. из лоскутов; мешанина;

to confound - поражать, ставить в тупик, смешивать, путать;

no wonder - неудивительно;

to comprise - включать, содержать, вмещать;

to tunt - портить(ся), заражать(ся);

misapplication - неверное, неправильное применение;

pollution - загрязнение;

threat - угроза;

to devastate - опустошать, разрушать;

weapon - оружие;

to assume - полагать, считать;

to bring - здесь: приводить;

pass - здесь: критическое положение;

to operate - действовать;

according to - в соответствии с..;

demand - требование;

goods - товары;

to lead (led, led) - приводить (к);

damage - вред, повреждение, ущерб;

to correct - исправлять;

sense - чувство;

tool - орудие, средство;

ultimately - в конечном итоге;

to determine - определять, устанавливать, решать.

Comprehension Check:


Ex. Answer the following questions.

1. Is this conclusion correct?

1. How does the layman tend to view the engineer's endeavors?

2. What are the engineer's responsibilities, in the layman's eyes?

3. Is the art of engineering appreciated enough?

4. What does the engineer so in fact?

5. Do engineers feel the need to unionize to improve their public image?

6. Are all the American engineers officially registered?

7. Do all of them have college degrees?

8. What fact is widely recognized?

9. Who are considered to be responsible for the damages?

Coming soon – robot slave for everyone

THE HUMAN brain contains I am told, 10 thousand million cells and each of these may have a thousand connections. Such enormous numbers used to daunt us and cause us to dismiss the possibility of making a machine with human-like ability, but now that we have grown used to moving forward at such a pace we can be less sure.

Quite soon, in only 10 or 20 years perhaps, we will be able to assemble a machine as complex as the human brain, and if we can we will. It may then take us a long time to render it intelligent by loading in the right software or by altering the architecture but that too will happen.

I think it certain that in decades not centuries, machines of silicon will arise first to rival and then surpass their human progenitors. Once they surpass us they will be capable of their own design. In a real sense they will be reproductive. Silicon will have ended carbon’s long monopoly. And ours too, I suppose, for we will no longer be able to deem ourselves the finest intelligence in the known universe.

In principle it could be stopped. There will be those that try but it will happen none the less. The lid of Pandora’s box is starting to open.

But let us look a little closer to the present: by the end of this decade manufacturing decline will be nearly complete – with employment in manufacturing industries less than 10 per cent in Britain. The goods are still needed but, as with agriculture already, imports and technical change will virtually remove all employment.

The Japanese are aiming to make computers dealing with concepts rather than numbers with thousands of times more power than current large machines. This has triggered a swift and powerful response in the American nation. There is a large joint programme of development among leading US computer companies, and IBM, though it says nothing, may well have the biggest programme of all.

These projects are aimed at what are loosely termed fifth-generation computers. These are really a new breed of machine entirely and will be as different from today’s computers as today’s computer is from an adding machine.

The simple microprocessor provides sufficient intelligence for current assembly line robots. As robots learn to see and feel, their brains will grow. Eventually, and not too far in the future, they will make decisions on the production line currently delegated to a supervisor.

Outside the factory we employ men’s minds in two principal ways; as fountsof knowledge and as makers of decisions. The former of these attributes is now falling prey to the machine with the development of “expert systems” whereby the acquired knowledge of a man, an expert in mining for example, is made to repose in the memory of a computer. The transfer of data from human to machine mine is neither easy nor swift but once attained it may be copied at will and broadcast. A formerly scarce resource can thus become plentiful.

The ability to reach wise conclusions, as we expect of a doctor or lawyer, from much or scant data will long remain man’s monopoly – but not always.

Fifth-generation computers will share this prerogative. Tomorrow we may take our ailments to a machine as readily as to a man. In time that machine will be in the house, removing the need to journey to the doctor and providing a far more regular monitoring of the state of health than it is now economic to provide.

The computer as surrogate teacher may bring even more benefits. Today, and as long as we depend on humans, we must have one teacher to many pupils. The advantage of a tutor for each child is clear and if that tutor is also endlessly patient and superhumanly well-informed we may expect a wonderful improvement in the standard of education. What, though, is the purpose if, in this imagined future, there are no jobs?

Curiously we can find analogies in the past. Freemen of Periclean Athens led not such different lives as we might live, for where we will have machines, they had slaves who served both to teach and as menials. Thanks perhaps to their fine education, the freemen of Athens seem not to have found difficulty in filling their time.

Just as they did, we will need to educate our children to an appreciation of the finer things of life, to inculcate a love of art, music and science. So we may experience an age as golden as that of Greece.

As the intelligence of robots increases to emulate that of human and as their cost declines though economies of scale we may use them to expand our frontiers, first on earth through their ability to withstand environments inimical to ourselves. Thus, deserts may bloom and the ocean beds be mined.

Further ahead, by a combination of the great wealth this new age will bring and the technology it will provide, we can really begin to use space to our advantage. The construction of a vast, man-created world in space, home to thousands or millions of people, will be within our power and, should we so choose, we may beginin earnest the search for worlds beyond our solar system and the colonisation of the galaxy.



Sir Clive Sinclair

Vocabulary to the Text:

slave - раб

brain - мозг

contain - содержать

cell - клетка

connection - связь, соединение

enormous - огромный

used to - бывало

daunt - обескураживать

cause - здесь: заставлять

dismiss - отвергать

pace - скорость, темп

assemble - собирать, монтировать

complex - сложный

intelligent - умный

load - загружать

software - программное обеспечение

alter - изменять

decade - десятилетие

silicon - кремний

rival - соперник, конкурент

surpass - превзойти, перегнать

carbon - углерод

creator - создатель, творец

finest - превосходный

lid - крышка

decline - упадок

complete - завершать

virtually - практически

remove - здесь: увольнять

deal (with) - иметь дело (с)

swift - скорый, быстрый

joint - совместный

loosely - свободно

breed - поколение; тип

entirely - полностью

provide (with) - обеспечивать

sufficient - достаточный

eventually - в конечном итоге

supervisor - контролер

fount - источник

fall a prey - пасть жертвой

acquired - приобретенный

mining - горное дело

attain - достить, добиться

broadcast - передавать по радио

formerly - некогда

scarce - скудный

plentiful - богатый, обильный

conclusion - зключение

scant - скудный

remain - оставаться

share (with) - делиться (с)

ailment - недомогание

surrogate - заменитель

benefit - выгода

advantage - преимущество

tutor - здесь: дом.учитель

improvement - усовершенствование

purpose - цель

curiosly - любопытно

menial - слуга, лакей

appreciation - оценка

inculcate - внедрять, внушать

experience - здесь: испытать

intelligence - здесь: возможности

increase - возрастать

emulate - состязаться, соревноваться

scale - масштаб

expand - расширять

frontiers - мн.ч.: границы

withstand - противостоять

environment - внешняя среда

inimical - враждебный

desert - пустыня

bloom - цвести

ocean bed - дно океана

mine - разрабатывать(руду)

vast - огромный

in earnest - верьезный, в серьез

search (for) - поиск

beyond - вне, за пределами


Comprehension Check.

Ex. Answer the following questions:

1. How will it be possible for machines to become more intelligent than humans?

2. How will Britain's need for manufactured products be satisfied?

3. What is ment by an "expert system"?

4. What are the Japanese aiming to make?

5. What are the goals of American projects?

6. What will robots be able to do in future?

7. How are men's minds usually employed?

8. What prerogative will the fifth-generation computer share with the man?


Topics to discuss.

1. Fields of using sophisticated computers in future.

2. Can computers threat humans somehow?


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