Technology and Human Responsibility

Issue #157                                                October 21, 2004
                 A Publication of The Nature Institute
           Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (

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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
its goals.  To make a contribution, click here.


Editor's Note

Quotes and Provocations
   The Heart's Song
   Tech Tonic


About this newsletter


                              EDITOR'S NOTE

Welcome back to NetFuture!  My four-month break from the publication has
ended.  One thing that's happened in the meantime is that The Nature
Institute's website has been seriously upgraded, with much more content
and greatly improved navigation:

I expect to put out some shorter-than-usual issues of NetFuture (such as
this one), occasional longer-than-usual issues (such as the next one), and
perhaps an issue here or there of a distinctly weird sort (we'll see).
The publication schedule will be less regular than before.  In general,
I'm gripped by a rather more experimental spirit than in the past as I try
to figure out whether there continues to be a useful place for a
publication like NetFuture in today's world.


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                         QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS

The Heart's Song

The image of the heart as a "ticker" generating a clock-like beat is the
product of a mechanical age.  Such an image did not always prevail.  The
historical psychologist, Jan Hendrik van den Berg, has pointed out that
when the idea of a beating heart was broached a few hundred years ago, it
was regarded by many people as downright crazy; this just wasn't the way
they experienced the "whispering, wailing, loving, longing tale" of the
body's rhythmic center.  It is easy to overlook how thoroughly the
character of our perceptions is dictated by our mechanistic habits of

If the older view seems romanticized and imprecise, you ought to look at
the work of Ary Goldberger, a cardiologist and director of the Laboratory
for Nonlinear Dynamics in Medicine at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital.
Goldberger has long sought clues to human health by attending to the
heart's subtle and, you could almost say, artistic performance.  His
conclusion is that the normal heartbeat "is more a dance than a march".

Perhaps the most striking thing about Goldberger's research is its
highlighting of the organic richness of the heartbeat.  Contrary to
expectation, even under the quietest