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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #131                                                  April 30, 2002
                     A Publication of The Nature Institute
               Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    Can we take responsibility for technology, or must we sleepwalk
    in submission to its inevitabilities?  NetFuture is a voice for
    responsibility.  It depends on the generosity of those who support
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    Quotes and Provocations
       Life as an Emergency
       How Doing Faster Means Doing Less
       Is AI Unfairly Maligned?
       Technology Is Not Dematerializing (Dave Crane)
       Moral Responsibility and Inanimate Objects (Gintas Jazbutis)
       Worry, and Rejoice (But Are You Worrying Enough?) (Jeff Falzone)
       Who Would Charlie Chaplin Have Been Before Film? (Hugo M. Castellano)
       Technology Re-defines Our Choices (Richard Anas Coburn)
       Technology Creates Choices (Valdemar M. Setzer)
    About this newsletter
                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Life as an Emergency
    You might be interested in "The Numbing of the American Mind" in Harper's
    Magazine (April, 2002).  This excerpt will give you a taste of the
    piece, which is written by Thomas de Zengotita:
       Being numb isn't antithetical to being totally stressed, 24-7 —
       and asking for more.  Over-scheduled busyness might seem like the
       opposite of numbness, but it is just the active aspect of living in a
       flood of fabricated surfaces.  Consider the guiding metaphor again.
       The (absence of) sensation that is physical numbness is constituted by
       a multitude of thrills and tingles at a frequency beyond which you feel
       nothing.  The numbness of busyness works on the same principle, but it
       relies upon its agents to abide by an agreement they must keep secret,
       even from themselves.  The agreement is this:  we will so conduct
       ourselves that everything becomes an emergency.
       Under that agreement, stress is how reality feels.  People addicted to
       busyness, people who don't just use their cell phones in public but
       display in every nuance of cell-phone deportment their sense of
       throbbing connectedness to Something Important — these people
       would suffocate like fish on a dock if they were cut off from the Flow
       of Events they have conspired with their fellows to create.  To these
       plugged-in players, the rest of us look like zombies, coast