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The Social Impact: Excerpts from "Some Thoughts About the Social Implications of Accessible Computing"5

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129738D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 6 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

E. E. David, Jr.: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

E.E. David, Jr., and Robert M. Fano (The original paper was published in Proc. Fall Joint Computer Conf., Vol. 27 ((D 1965 AFIPS.)

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 15% of the total text.

Page 1 of 6

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Social Impact: Excerpts from "Some Thoughts About the Social Implications of Accessible Computing"5

Outside of the technological advances being made in time-sharing and interactive computing, as well as the allied enterprises within Project MAC, there was a deep concern among the system designers about the cultural impact of placing a computer into the public domain. In a paper coauthored with E.E. David, Jr., in 1965 and in another paper published in 1967, Robert Fano commented on such current concerns as unemployment and predicted future concerns that we now live with, including computer security and (what is now called) hacking.

E. E. David, Jr.

Robert M. Fano

E.E. David, Jr., and Robert M. Fano (The original paper was published in Proc. Fall Joint Computer Conf., Vol. 27 ((D 1965 AFIPS.)

Prominent among the products of technology that have shaped our society are automobiles, electric power, and telephones. They provide us with personal transportation, with aids in our physical labor, and with convenient communication. They have radically altered the pattern of our business and private lives. Nobody will deny that these products of technology have substantially increased our mobility, have eliminated a great deal of tedious physical labor, and have contributed vital threads to the fabric of society and commerce.

Yet, they have also brought to our society ills, frustrations, and problems, few of which seem on the wane. The flight to suburbia in search of more elbow room and greenery has left a disproportionate fraction of economically and culturally underprivileged families in the cities. The same technology which has given us new dimensions in communication has been used to implement eavesdropping equipment. The same power tools and machines that are at the foundation of our industrial society caused great grief to people whose obsolete skills were their only source of livelihood and pride as working members of society. Finally, automobiles and power tools are causing us to lose our physical stamina, thereby making us easier prey for disease.

The full influence of these products of technology was felt only some years after the underlying technical advances had come to pass; namely, at about the time each of them became accessible to a large segment of the population. We are now at that stage with computers. Technical means are now available for bringing computing and information service within easy reach of every individual in a community. What will be the effect on our society?

Such service will provide to the individual "thinking tools," somewhat analogous to power tools, to aid him in his daily intellectual labor. These thinking tools will increase the power, skill, and precision of his mind, just as power tools today increase the power, precision, an...