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How to Reduce Human Cognitive Load Using Computers?

Navigating from complicated to complex IT landscape
Photo by Ismo Aro

The Evolution of Technology in the IT Industry

When I started my first job in the Information Technology (IT) industry in the early 2000s, the technology stack for creating a world-class digital service was relatively straightforward: PHP + SQL, Apache, Linux, and a physical server. It was simpler to be a full-stack developer back then, wasn’t it?

From Complicated to Complex Systems

Today, our industry is shifting from dealing with complicated systems to navigating complex ones. In a complicated system, you can understand the cause and effect deterministically. In contrast, a complex system requires understanding how changes in input affect the output, often unpredictably. We are approaching a point where we can no longer confidently say about IT-systems, "It can be understood because it is created by humans." This shift is increasing our cognitive load.

Leveraging Abstraction to Manage Complexity

So, how can technology help reduce this load? As of Q2 2024, the answer lies in abstraction and transforming vast amounts of data into understandable information. From the beginning, our industry has leveraged abstraction. Programming languages are a prime example. We no longer write in assembly language, which is what computers ultimately understand. Instead, we use higher-level languages like TypeScript. At our Platform Engineering company, we develop Internal Development Platforms (IDPs) to reduce developers’ cognitive load. These platforms create curated environments where developers can focus solely on coding, while the IDP handles everything else.

Harnessing Large Language Models (LLMs)

What about the overwhelming amount of data we encounter today? This is where Large Language Models (LLMs) come into play. These models can analyze immense datasets, mimicking human interaction and distilling clear information for us. We are on the brink of launching an innovative concept called the AI Colleague. This AI tirelessly studies your company's internal data, generating both explicit and tacit knowledge. Imagine a colleague who can answer any question about your work context at any time, without hesitation. How cool is that?

Stay tuned for more updates, as we will be unveiling this soon. If you’re eager for a sneak peek, let me know!