October 1996

Root Page of Article: Coming Out of the Closedt World, by John Horberg

Fantasy of Global Control

Edwards' book offers an implicit critique of our unthinking trust in computers. He notes that we have become conditioned to believe that by virtue of their cool logic and unfailing accuracy, computers can provide the correct solution to any problem, whether scientific, technical, or social. Edwards devotes much of the book's space to tracing how and why this sentiment has emerged and settled as deeply as it has in the American mind and culture.

Edwards explains that with regards to the "ideological worlds of the Cold War and the Vietnam War [computers] represented a potential for total oversight, exacting standards of control, and technical-rational solutions to a myriad of complex problems."

The book also covers more familiar territory of the introduction of computing methods into traditionally non-empirical research areas, for the purpose of providing answers to many other complex (and ethical) problems. Edwards criticizes the application of computing into problem areas that do not call for computers, pointing out the reductiveness of algorithmally defining problem areas that cannot be fully described and do not have complete and correct solutions to begin with. ^

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