ITGS Syllabus

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Topic 102

economic effects of the use of models to design and test new products by Haider Ali Shah

The use of models in any situation only arises when it is more efficient to research and test theories and products on models before applying them to practical situations than it is to jump right into the real world. Let’s take a very straightforward example: dummies in vehicle crash tests. As we’ve all seen in videos and perhaps in real life, dummies in crash tests are made to model physical human behavior in a car crash, which can be observed with sensors and cameras. The use of dummies hence removes the need for people to experience the car crash to help test the car’s safety features and provides useful data to researchers, which they can use to improve the car’s safety.

Just like the crash test dummy, most design models exist so it’s easy for researchers to test products and theories. Models have existed before the advent of the computer in many forms, such as setups for physics, economic models, and chemical solutions. However, since computers have become available, models are increasingly being created using computer simulations. Not only electronic goods (such as mp3 players) are designed and tested on computers. Models for almost anything, such as cars, can be created and tested using computer simulation.

The resulting economic implications are simple: models remove the need for ideas to be tested in the real world and hence provide as low-cost, low-risk research objects, enhancing the production and practicability of products.

However, models are only effective when they simulate reality accurately. Even though the use of models to design and test new products has positive social effects, when models inaccurately represent reality, negative social implications may arise. Like in the case of the crash test dummy, if the dummy fails to accurately model the physical behavior of a human being in a car crash, the results of the test may be different, and may affect the actual safety provided by the car when it is released.

Like I’ve said in previous papers, even though technologies that help improve human life often come with drawbacks, they are employed because the advantages they provide outweigh the disadvantages. Similarly, the positive economic effects derived from efficient designing and testing due to models are considered to outweigh the innate risk of inaccurate simulation and the negative social effects resulting from it.


Blogger Dwarkesh said...

Yes.. i totally agree with Haider.. As much as we can say that simulation are not accurate as in 100% with reality... we have no other choice rather than testing a real product everytime it is designed brought to the studio... it is much more economical and efficient in giving us the idea of what problems lye ahead... and what can be done about it at an indvidual level... regardless of the inaccuracies it may pose....

January 27, 2007 7:39 PM  
Blogger Dwarkesh said...

amazing, simply, amazing...

January 27, 2007 7:39 PM  

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