RE: Information technology

Sweitzer, Dennis (
Mon, 06 May 96 08:06:00 EST

In message <> "Sweitzer, Dennis" writes:

> I found Hitchhiker's Guide to be hilarious. And thought provoking. It
> raises the question of "will technology work as promised and be wonderful,

> or will it work as promised and be annoying?". (And it even touches on
> question of the origens of the earth.........)

Paul responded>>
> But is everybody else out there so cynical about technology?

I'm not cynical, just realistic. ok, maybe a little cynical. I'm not a
luddite and I enjoy using technology. But as we look at history, we have to
admit that when wonderful ideas and inventions meet the innovators of
commerce the result is usually different than anticipated. For instance,
the vision of the content and use of television of the inventors of
Television was more along the lines of PBS's 'Masterpiece Theater', or
'Nature', not commercial 'Melrose Place', or 'Roseanne'. I guess we can
blame the masses for that, since they (or at least the demographically
important high-spending-white-females-between-ages-18-and-30...) prefer to
watch the latter.

Innovators, e.g., scientistics and engineers, tend to be idealistic about
their innovations, and tend to fail to anticipate how their technology will
be used, or how it will fall short.

> This week's Science reports that researchers at scores of laboratories
finally succeeded in sequencing the entire 12 million basepairs in the
of brewer's yeast, Saccharomyces cereviceae.
> I'll drink to that.

Me too.

> While Christians are sitting around saying such and such a theory is
impossible, such and such a field of research makes mistakes, such and such
technology is depressing or annoying, others go ahead and fix the mistakes,
solve the problems and create a new level of solutions to the world's

I appreciate your optimism. But a little cynicism and pessimisism can be
healthy--if it allows us to anticipate pitfalls and to design a better
system, or simply to design a viable system. Of course, too much is fatal
since it can stop us from doing anything (but please don't ascribe that
extreme to me).

Many famous mistakes occured simply because engineers failed to anticipate
everything that could go wrong--especially the human component. Or failed
to anticipate what people would really want.

It all sounds cynical & pessimistic to talk this way, but to me it's just
another level of engineering. I'm sure that if someone wrote a story about
a nuclear power plant in which someone left safety valves shut, operators
fell asleep, and a stuck temperature gauge lead to a near catastrophic core
meltdown, it would have been regarded as cynical & sarcastically
funny--before it actually happened at Three Mile Island. The same can be
said for Chernobyl ("Gee, Ivan what would happen if we drop the power real
low, and then bring it back up again?" "I don't know. Should we ask a
scientist?" "Nyet. Let's run the experiment. What could possibly go

> I'm one who continues to believe in the mission of science as proposed
Francis Bacon in 1620: Natural philosophy is "for the glory of God, and the

relief of man's estate."

Amen. But with sinfull & foolish man implementing solutions, very often
today's solutions become tomorrows problems. Just because we have a
solution to a problem, doesn't mean we should implement that solution.

Enough of my ramblin,

Grace & peace

Dennis Sweitzer