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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #95      A Publication of The Nature Institute    September 23, 1999
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NETFUTURE is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Quotes and Provocations
       The Distorting Potentials of Technical Capability
       Movements, Too, Must Be Allowed to Die
       What Makes a Technology Inevitable?
       The Fascination with Ubiquitous Control
       Toward Appropriate Behavior by Objects (Alan Wexelblat)
       Response to Alan Wexelblat (Langdon Winner)
       Missing the `Old' Don Norman (Steve Baumgarten)
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    I'll be offline from September 27 - October 6 due to speaking commitments
    and a little bit of associated vacation.  On October 1 I'll give a public
    lecture at the University of Moncton, New Brunswick, on "The Strange
    Disappearance of Earth: Is Cyberspace a Black Hole?".  And the next day
    I'll deliver the keynote to the Professional Librarians of New Brunswick:
    "Awakening to Ourselves in the Age of Intelligent Machines".
    If you're within striking distance, stop by.  It's always a special
    pleasure when I meet NETFUTURE readers on the road -- which seems
    inevitably to happen these days!
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                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    The Distorting Potentials of Technical Capability
    I've pointed out on various occasions that no domain of human activity has
    been more thoroughly founded upon the computer than finance and investment
    -- and, not coincidentally, no domain has been more thoroughly drained of
    its human content.  Unbelievably massive capital flows course through the
    global bitstreams, seeking nothing but their own abstract, mathematical
    increase.  The healthy or unhealthy social consequences of the particular
    uses of a particular bit of capital -- my capital or your capital --
    disappear from the picture.
    But there's another arena where computerized technology plays an
    increasingly prominent role -- an arena where you'd think it couldn't help
    but serve human purposes.  I mean the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
    Digital readouts and computer-controlled displays reveal the patient's
    apparent status at a glance, high-tech alarms signal changes in condition,
    and the amazing medical procedures that we so naturally refer to as
    "technical" seem to have the crisp, well-defined, algor