Technology and Human Responsibility

Issue #154                                               February 12, 2004
                 A Publication of The Nature Institute
           Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (

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Editor's Note

Quotes and Provocations
   CyberTrackers: Bushmen and Information Technology
   On Treating Hyperactive Children with Drugs
   Do Plants Think?


About this newsletter


                              EDITOR'S NOTE

Two brief notes:

I wish to thank all of you who responded so generously to the December
request for subscription donations.  It is wonderful to be able to put
NetFuture out with the sense of warmth, gratitude, and heightened
responsibility that so naturally results when one receives such deeply
motivated support.  While we fell a little short of our yearly fundraising
goal, we benefited from a surplus of energizing good will and even
sacrifice by many donors.  Thanks you!

The main articles from In Context #10 (Fall, 2003) are now available
online.  In particular, you'll find Craig Holdrege's study of the giraffe
(including a discussion of the not-very-salutary role of its long neck in
evolutionary explanation), and my own paper entitled "Qualities".  These
and other articles are available at  In Context
is a twice-yearly hardcopy publication of The Nature Institute.


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                         QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS

CyberTrackers: Bushmen and Information Technology

"The art of tracking", writes Louis Liebenberg, "may have been the origin
of science".  As a physicist who has spent many years tracking with the
Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, Liebenberg speaks with some authority.
And there can in any case be little doubt about the remarkable
observational and interpretive skills of expert trackers -- skills that
would be the envy of many scientists (or, at least, of those relative few
who still occupy themselves with the appearances of the natural world
rather than with instrument readings and abstractions).  A good tracker
can read a detailed public story written upon a littered forest floor
where the rest of us would see only a chaotic mass of dead leaves.  The
bushmen of the Kalahari can identify an individual rhinoceros by examining
the pattern of cracks in its droppings