CMC Magazine November 1, 1995 / Page 11
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 95 14:54:02 -0300 From: James Dalziel
Organization: University of Sydney, Australia To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Review of Talbot X-URL: http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1995/oct/hunt.html Kevin, I was interested to read your review of "The Future Does Not Compute", and I share many similar views to both Talbot and yourself regarding the nature of computers in modern life. However, I am fascinated that neither you, nor Talbot, nor anyone else I have yet heard discuss the book have picked up on the problematic use of metaphor in the book. While Talbot's central thesis that the questions that we should be asking about the use of computers are really questions about ourselves as human beings (not the technology), I am repeatedly surprised by his use of metaphors about computers which imply that computers are actually "human-like". To me this seems directly at odds with the view he holds, as the essential reflection we should gain from the book is not on computers' "human-ness", but on how we have allowed our "human-ness" to be subverted by computers. This being the case, I would have thought the last thing an author would want to do is use imagery which suggests the opposite, ie. that computers actually are like us. However, the metaphor of "The Djinn", his unusually broad concept of intelligence which allows computers as "Intelligent machines", and his discussion of computer "minds" all seem at odds with the ideas he presents. I point this out because I believe that this creates an unnecessary weakness in an otherwise important and compelling argument. I would be interested on your thoughts on this. James Dalziel Department of Psychology, University of Sydney, Australia.
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