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The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst

Stephen L. Talbott

Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly and Assoc., 1995, 481 pages, hardcover.

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cover of The Future Does Not Compute

The library journal Choice selected this book as one of its six “Outstanding Academic Books” for 1996 in the field of Information and Computer Science. Here are some comments on the book:

“Talbott’s important, seminal work should be read by everyone working with computers....His penetrating discussions of works by H. Rheingold, G. Gilder, and S. Papert are models of dispassionate analysis. This short review cannot do justice to the scope and depth of this first critical study of computers since J. Weizenbaum's Computer Power and Human Reason.”

J. Mayer, Choice, May, 1996

“There are many words — complex, eccentric, thoughtful, stimulating, perplexing, penetrating — suitable to describe this challenging book, suitable but inadequate. It is a deep exegesis (at times very deep) of the problem of man’s relationship to computer-based technology and its manifestations — the Internet, digital images, virtual reality and as a medium of entertainment and communication. The author sums up his brief early on: ‘We and our mechanical offspring are bound together in an increasingly tight weave. To substantially modify the larger pattern — rather than simply be carried along by it — requires profound analysis of things not immediately evident, and a difficult effort to change things not easily changed.’”

Stephen Horvath, LogosThe Journal of the World Book Community, vol. 11, issue 2, 2000

“Talbott tears apart all the standard conceptions and misconceptions and gets down to basics — the meaning of things; the differences between data, information, and wisdom; how people communicate and interact — and builds his discussion logically and artfully.

While I disagree with some of his conclusions, Talbott challenged many of my assumptions and long-held feelings about the roles of the Internet and computers in my life. He does this better than anyone has in a long time.”

Miles O'Neal, Unix Review's “Best Books of 1995,” January, 1996

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Steve Talbott :: The Future Does Not Compute

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