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FleshFactor: Re: Fascinated, but frustrated too...



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Valery Grancher wrote:

>I mean that you can't think technology without the human dimension
>because it can't be a utopia in itself but just a means to do other
>things and construct a new context. You have to keep in mind that science
>isn't science without critiques about its own contribution to the human
>collectivity. 


I agree that scientists have to think about the human dimension of the
technology they develop. But it is naive to think that we can be very good
at predicting HOW new technology will affect culture/our world. Below are
two excellent books that look at the "history of predicting the impact of
new technology" and show how bad people have been at this in the past. See
summaries below.


Pattie

Pattie Maes <pattie@media.mit.edu>
Associate Professor
MIT Media Laboratory
 
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Imagining Tomorrow
                    Published by Mit Pr
                    Publication date: March 1986
                    ISBN: 0262530767

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0801853990/1576-7472953-879993

-- This book has a collection of articles about past visions of future
technologies.  These include: Nuclear Energy (Power too cheap to meter,
"rose smelling" exhaust fumes, etc..,), the electric lightbulb (emergency
messages will be flashed to ships at sea by bouncing them off of the
moon), x-rays (curing all diseases and violating women's privacy by
looking through walls), plastic (saving the environment by eliminating the
need for ivory -- oops!), and, of course, computers (The world would never
need more than 3.) 


Yesterday's Tomorrows : Past Visions of the American Future
                    by Joseph J. Corn, Brian Horrigan,
                    Katherine Chambers (Editor)

                    Rpt Edition 
                    Paperback, 157 pages
                    Published by Johns Hopkins Univ Pr
                    Publication date: April 1996
                    Dimensions (in inches): 7.68 x 9.94 x .44
                    ISBN: 0801853990 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0801853990/1576-7472953-879993

--this is the semi-scholarly work posing as a coffee table book.  Delightful
pictures and stories about those past visions.  This one is in print.

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