Survival Printout (review, by and Total Effect)
continue, with units becoming cheaper, faster, and easier to assemble for the purposes at hand. To think of today's minis is misleading. The power of such systems in the near future will be more comparable to that of very large contemporary computers, even though these systems will be largely self-contained and stand-alone. Modern video-based technology will, l believe, have great ramifications too; it also suggests the possibility of very powerful local processing. The local processor can drive displays without timesharing limitations, and interactive computer graphics can overcome the limitations of a 1200 baud connection. George Leonard's view of the future is only one of many. But such speculation, such description of ideal future conditions in a broad and sweeping sense, is important for developers of computer-based material. It is easy to become frozen in the hardware and technology available at the moment, and so waste years of time preparing materials that will only be obsolete when they are finished. Perhaps nowhere is the future shock phenomenon likely to be more important than in areas touched by the computer, because of the very rapid advances. Whether you accept George Leonard's view or not, or perhaps just deem it an interesting possibility, the need for long-range thinking and speculation about the future is important for all of us. Alfred Bork University of California- Irvine *** MAN AND- THE COMPUTER, John G. Kemeny, l5l pp. $6.95, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1972. Although this book is based on a series of lectures delivered three years ago, it deserves a careful reading. It is written for the person unfamiliar with computers but could easily be read by computer professionals who need a new perspective of the computer. The author divides the book into two parts. The first part is a short history of computers and time-sharing plus speculation as to whether we should consider the computer a new species. The second part is peek into 1990 to see how this relation between man and computer might develop. From the development of stored programs with the leadership of John von Neumann, the computer exhibits characteristics of a species; i.e., metabolism, locomotion, reproduction, individuality, intelligence, and naturalness. However, this flies in the face of current acceptance of the definition of a "live species." The author, after a very clear explanation of Dartmouth Time Sharing, shows how the species of man and machine are coexisting. He then raises the question about this relationship - Is it symbiotic or parasitic? Humans fear that which they do not understand, and the computer professionals have not done a very good Job of dispelling this fear. Symbiote or parasite - it is up to man to use "enough understanding and enough foresight" to "assure that the interaction between the two species will be totally beneficial to mankind." 1990 augurs widespread computer usage in business, education, and every day existence. With specific examples the author relates how the technology of 1971 could develop these relationships. Progress in computers has bounded forward with reduced costs in the use of microcomputers, computer terminals, and inter-computer communication. Project INTREX has demonstrated the possibility of storing vast amounts of information, but not [image] My Horoscope Told Me To Take This Course! U.S. COLLEGE STUDENTS TAKING ASTROLOGY COURSESOUTNUMBER THOSE TAKING ASTROPHYSICS, BY 10-TO-1 economically yet. Hewlett-Packard has produced a personal programmable computer for under $800. Therefore, we humans need the help of a federally subsidized private agency to develop computer systems for public use. This agency could lead the way in controlling this "symbiotic evolution" so that we could experience a "new golden age for mankind." Edgar T. Canty Boston, MA. *** Survival Printout, edited by Total Effect, Vintage Books, New York. 232 pg. Paperback. $1.95. The Introduction of this book describes a dialogue in SEMANT between the editors (three professors of English who call their group Total Effect) and a Burroughs Illiac 4. By means of this dialogue, they claim that the computer actually chose the sixteen selections of science fact and science fiction that comprise the book. The selections are divided into four groups. The first is called "Evolution/Identity" and the four short stories by Eiseley, Ballard, Bester, and Zelazny are speculations on man qua man. The first three delve into deep fantasy and bring tto the surface thoughts that we probably have all had during times of deep depression or extreme loneliness. For a Breath I Tarry by Roger Zelazny, the last selection in this group is by far the best and describes the thought process of a robot/computer attempting to achieve manhood. Absolutely fascinating! The second section is called "Earth Probabilities". Arthur Clarke leads off with a factual article on the Social Consequence: of Communications Satellites written in 1945 but timely today as it was then. The next two stories in this section by Silverberg and Lafferty describe living conditions in an urban city of the future and the reemergence of the streetcar. The last story is Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. It describes what happens when the remaining giant computers on the earth after a nuclear war get together to keep five human survivors living forever. It has been reprinted several places; however, if you haven't read it yet, you must! It's superb. The third section "Ecosystems - Cellular and Solar" starts with a factual selection by Nigel Calder on exploding stars, black holes, pulsars, and other cosmic phenomena, An excellent introduction to the fundamentals of the universe. The other three stories in this section by Leiber, Delany, and Simak are good solid entertainment with a liberal sprinkling of naked truth among the fun and humor. The last section "Time Space Travel" is probably the most speculative, dealing from several points of view with relativistic travel to other stars, galaxies, or galaxy clusters. It seems fairly clear that relativistic spaceflight is the way to go assuming a way can be found to propel the craft (anti-matter?) and protect the occupants. Cosmic radiation near the speed of light would have an intensity 100,000 times greater than that of sunlight at the earth's surface. Naturally in the three fiction selections by Smith, Heinlein, and Blish these problems have been overcome and we are fascinated with the paradoxes of time travel and the like. Survival Printout is recommended for an entertaining, yet highly informative diversion from your computer. David H. Ahl Morristown, N, I.