Ronda Hauben on 6 Jan 2001 17:33:57 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Tech CEO's advise New Administration or need for broader ranging advice

Following is something I sent to Dave Farber's IP list about the 
interesting comment he made about the need to provide adequate 
education so that there can be the needed contributions by
those with more technical understanding to the political
and policy process.

Dave Farber wrote:
>Subject: IP: TECH GURUS EDUCATE BUSH.: What's New for Jan 05, 2001

>Based on my experience in DC, what we need is an investment in the 
>University's Law schools to create a technically aware set of politicians 
>and an investment in Engineering Schools to create a policy and politically 
>aware set of technicians :-) djf

I want to propose that there is also an investment needed in Engineering 
Schools and Law Schools so that they raise the social issues that one 
needs to understand to deal with policy and political issues connected
with the new computer and networking technology that has been developed
since WWII.


>>5. TECH GURUS EDUCATE BUSH. Bush met with tech-sector CEO's this
>>week for policy advice, and got a unanimous answer: we need more
>>investment in K-12 science and math, to create a technically
>>educated workforce. Bush proclaimed the issue a priority.

Perhaps a US President needs to meet with more than just tech-sector 
CEO's for policy advice. This is a time of great change and it would seem
a President of a diverse country like the US needs broad ranging
information to understand how to meet the challenges of such 
changing times. Donald Price in his book "Government and Science"
describes the need for scientific and technical advisors to government
who will provide the broadest possible range of information 
and advice.

I have been reading some articles written in the 1970's by J.C.R. Licklider 
urging that there is a need for support for socio-technical pioneers to 
contribute to government policy processes.

Also I have just read some of "Giant Brains" by Edmund C. Berkeley
who was instrumental in forming the ACM. Berkeley's book provides
important technical descriptions of early computers circa 1949.
And he provides some discussion of the kind of social oversight and 
leadership needed from government and society for computers to be
developed in a socially beneficial way. 

A few years ago I took an engineering course that surveyed the social
problems and issues that engineers need to concern themselves with.
It was a course in civil engineering but it included a broad sweep
of the kind of regulatory and other government activity that has been
needed over a long period of time for the engineer to be able to have 
the support needed to design safe and socially beneficial technology.

Project MAC at MIT, the first Center of Excellence set up by Licklider
after he went to ARPA in 1962, included social concerns among the 
concerns that students there explored. Also Licklider advocated 
support for students who wanted to consider the good as well as 
problemmatic potential impact of the computer and networking technology.

My most recent research, however, has been about the multidisciplinary
community that Licklider was part of in the 1940's through the 1960's
when he first went to ARPA to form the Information Processing Techniques

This community investigated the nature of natural and artificial 
feedback control mechanisms. In this community were researchers who
were modeling the human capacity to adapt and learn based on knowledge 
about both the human brain and the newly developed machine servo-mechanisms.
An important part of the ability to adapt and learn of human
systems has to do with regulatory mechanisms that provide a stability
so that learning and adaptation can be embraced to provide for
the needed changes to meet the needs of a changing environment.
When Licklider went to ARPA to create IPTO in 1962, he brought with
him the experience of this community, and added the ability to 
create new tools and the possibility of a human-computer partnership to 
provide society with the capability of the computer and the human
interacting online. It was Licklider's hope that the human-computer 
interactive and collaboratory partnership could indeed provide for 
the needed problem solving ability a varying and changing environment 

This is perhaps a broader perspective than seems to be considered in
policy circles in general in the US. That is why I am suggesting 
that there is a need to provide a broad socio-technical 
education for students and and other citizens so they can encourage their
government to make socially beneficial decisions regarding technology. 

Its good to see you are encouraging the consideration of such challenges.


P.S. I am working on a draft paper about the role of the post WWII
interdisciplinary research community in creating a visionary perspective 
for early computer science developments. I would be glad to send a copy 
to those interested for their comments when it is done.

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