Computers and Society, History to the Present Day | Ronald M. Baecker

I've been interested in computers and society issues ever since I was a student at MIT between 1959 and 69 concerns about computers or automata or machines come to life of course go back to literature and science fiction but one of the first written expressions of concern was actually the father of cybernetics Norbert Wiener who wrote a piece in 1949 that was never published and was recently uncovered by the New York Times technology columnist John Markov I became interested in the issues in the 60s in part through the writings of a man named Joe Weizenbaum who was a professor at MIT who was one of the first to articulate concerns about how programmers personalities might affect their work and also very visionary concerns about how programs would ultimately grow so large and so complicated that no human being would understand them any more would be able to fix them there was also in the 60s Allen Weston and law professor at Columbia wrote a very important book called privacy and freedom looking both at the legal issues and also at the psychological importance of privacy all of this has become much more important now because in this millennium we've seen several developments we've seen technology become pervasive with cell phones and with what's called ubiquitous computing which is tiny computers embedded everywhere and you don't even know where they are but they're watching you with the success in robotics and continuing efforts at automation increasingly imperiling the livelihoods of more and more people and particularly in the last decade the success of artificial intelligence which has moved well beyond its success in in mastering games like checkers and chess and go and jeopardy to being proposed for use in ways that affect human life and death and welfare in much more profound ways so computers in society now is I believe a very current topic and one that all computer science students should should read and think about and in fact is important for educated individuals in general

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