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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #132                                                    May 21, 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
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    Editor's Note
    Quotes and Provocations
       Sex, the Internet, and Educational Reform
       Requiem for Distant Educators
       High Noon at the DB Corral
       On Giving Rats a Virtual Life
    Announcements and Resources
       Genetic Engineering and the Intrinsic Value of Organisms
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    A series of news items this month have brought the primary thrust of
    digital technologies into uncommonly clear perspective.  We're seeing some
    vivid pictures of the fruition of it all.  See how well your own
    interpretations agree with mine.
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                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Sex, the Internet, and Educational Reform
    "One of the most thorough reports ever produced on protecting children
    from Internet pornography has concluded that neither tougher laws nor new
    technology alone can solve the problem" — so the New York
    Times led off a story headlined, "No Easy Fixes Are Seen to Curb Sex-
    Site Access" (May 3, 2002).  The mentioned report, "Youth, Pornography,
    and the Internet", was issued this month by the National Research Council.
    Former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh, chair of the committee that
    wrote the report, owned up to the obvious:
       It's not nearly as easy for an adult to supervise children who might
       seek or be inadvertently exposed to sexually explicit materials online
       as it is when such images are available in books or on the family
       television set.
    In many respects, the authors of the report have simply thrown in the
    towel, while trying to sound helpful.  They offer this analogy:
       Swimming pools can be dangerous for children.  To protect them, one can
       install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms.  All of these
       measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can
       do for one's children is to teach them to swim.
    Sounds healthy, doesn't it?  The only