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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #63       Copyright 1998 Bridge Communications       January 6, 1998
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          What Hope Does Technology Bring to the New Year?
          Toward a Global Super-consciousness
          Amusing Ourselves into a Fit
          The Bill for All Those Computer Donations Is Now Due
          Racing Toward a Brick Wall in Order to Stay Ahead
          How about a Moratorium on Internet Surveys?
          Saying Nothing As Fast As Possible
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Quotes and Provocations

    What Hope Does Technology Bring to the New Year?

    As we mark a new year, I am reminded of the following:

    Peter Cochrane, Head of Research at British Telecom Laboratories, was asked "What do you want to say to the elderly who cannot get to grips with all these newfangled contraptions?" He replied:

    Don't worry -- you're going to die soon.
    Happy New Year.

    (Thanks to Ladislaus Horatius, http://www.common.se/horatius/pot.htm. The Cochrane quotation is from the British hardcopy publication, .net, #23, Sept., 1996.)

    Toward a Global Super-consciousness

    Putting the Internet in Perspective Dept.: Gary Chapman notes that "the entire global Internet-using population is about four percent of the `Baywatch' audience." An estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide tune into "Baywatch" every week.

    Okay, so there is a Noosphere after all. It's just hung up a bit on skimpy bathing suits.

    Amusing Ourselves into a Fit

    About 700 Japanese young people, mostly aged three to twenty, were hospitalized in mid-December with seizure-like symptoms. Their mistake: watching a television cartoon show, "Pokemon" (meaning "pocket monster"), based on a Nintendo video game. Some of the youths were victimized by the rebroadcast of part of the cartoon on news programs. (The news producers, I assume, felt obliged to replicate the experiment in the interest of scientific objectivity.)

    In what some doctors called the largest mass outbreak of seizures on record, the children went into a trance-like state, suffering convulsions, vomiting, shortness of breath, irritated eyes, and other symptoms. The problems seem to have occurred when a rat-like cartoon creature's eyes flashed dramatically in an explosion scene.

    According to Dr. Yukio Fukuyama, an expert on juvenile epilepsy, such bright flashes of light and color can trigger what is known as "television epilepsy." The syndrome has also been associated with video games. That's why Nintendo places a health warning on its video software.

    However, Dr.