Re: economic barriers

Darren Kelly (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 11:41:11 +0100 (MET)

On Fri, 9 Jan 1998, Christopher Sumpton wrote:
> Frankly, I'm suspicious of machinery... ever since the tragedy of the
> industrial revolution, and then the poison of the nuclear age. I just hope
> that computers and machines will help us overcome our destructiveness,
> instead of encouraging more extinction.

I can clearly remember my shock (as a budding young physicist) when I
learnt about the bomb. I read C.P. Snow's famous book "The Physicists",
which discussed the Manhattan project. I was fascinated by Oppenheimer,
scientific leader of the project, and particularly by his resistance to
the H-bomb thereafter, and his consequent exclusion from military circles.
He was a very, very bright guy, and his diaries at the time are filled
with soul searching. He was responsible for one of the most recognised
translations of the B.Gita from sanskrit, references to which appear again
and again in his writings, whence his famous line about becoming "the
destroyer of worlds", the antithesis to the dance of creation.

I don't think the line between abuse and use of technology gets finer. At
the risk of sounding like a Hollywood movie, "the good" tend to have the
upper hand because they tend to be a fraction smarter, if only because one
can think more clearly with a settled soul, and they tend to cooperate
more effectively. One can't, however, underestimate the energy for abuse
available through the fervour of fundamentalist conviction, especially in
a world where nearly any bright physics graduate can make a bomb (given
sufficient resources).

I think the great danger is the fact that, whereas the sword could
slaughter thousands, we are now able to destroy the entire planet,
i.e. mutual destruction. The leverage has become greater.

As I redesign my gestural MIDI controller software I'm keeping a very
special application in mind: patient monitoring. Instead of a dancer with
sensors and musical/light output imagine a patient with various sensors
monitoring the state of bodily functions. The output becomes alarms and
reactive electronically driven actions (such as heart triggers). I'm
in contact with a couple of medical researchers about it already. As
a software design problem there is no difference from the dance
and tech problem.


Darren Kelly | | |
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