The primary thesis of this book lies in the authors' belief that the emergence of computers as an elemental force in our modern society must be viewed with sceptical - and sometimes negative - eye. Crandall and Levich, one a mathematician and scientist, the other a philosopher and proponent of the liberal arts, strive, however, to present a balanced viewpoint of both sides of this phenomenon, investigating and reflecting on the good and bad sides of this revolution, and seek meaning in this "Information Age." Their examination is performed in a manner divested of journalistic hyperbole, the incantations of self-serving oracular futurists, and the sales pitches of the software and hardware industries. This book explores those topics which constitute the underpinnings of the "Information Age", and asks two questions: is the software, and hardware, of which our computers are made, capable of doing everything their enthusiasts would have us believe they can do? and will advances in these technologies be beneficial to the society in which they have become such an integral part?
In separating the wheat from the chaff, the authors' goal is to provide readers with a much better understanding of the limitations of these new technologies, along with propositions for better use and implementation of them within the societal context.
Essay 1: A Conspiracy of Parts = In the early 1960s a blizzard of parts, upgrades, revisions commenced which was perpetrated by silicon companies, from which conspiracy we have still not recovered. Essay 2: Toward a Theory of Machine Consciousness = All we have really gotten from the A.I. revolution so far is something akin to microwave appliances that "usually" work. Essay 3: Multimedia: Melange' Obscur = The unfortunate effect of modern multimedia on the normal practice of scientific investigation is discussed. Essay 4: Network Chaos = How communication, thought and emotion become forced cartooning on the BBS, and how language, and users of it are transformed for the worst. Essay 5: Education Be Not Automatic = It is argued that the "computer revolution" may yield a null result, unless the nature of education is taken seriously before computers intervene. Essay 6: Virtual Reality, and All That= The emergence of "virtual reality" (VR) is first discussed from a logical perspective, then from a functional perspective, along with obfuscation factors arising from various uses of the term.
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