In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of DEC, made an oft-misapplied statement, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. A favourite of introductory college computing modules – supposedly highlighting the difficulty in keeping pace with rapid change in computing technology, it appears foolish at a time when personal computers were already under development – including in his own laboratories. The quote is out of context, of course, and applies to Olsen’s scepticism regarding fully-automated assistive home technology systems (climate control, security, cooking food, etc.). However, as precisely these technologies gain traction, there may be little doubt that, if he stands unfairly accused of being wrong in one respect, time will inevitably prove him so in another.
So, in short:
- Yes, he did say that
- No, that wasn’t quite what he meant
- He wasn’t (obviously) wrong at the time
- He is now/will be soon
The ‘Just because we’ll be able to, will we? Should we? Must we?’ discussion revisited in the light of the news that CCTV cameras will be compulsory in English abattoirs soon. Again, a reminder that technological ethics have more to do with ethics than technology.
But we’ll start with a different topic: one that isn’t as controversial as it used to be …
There was a time when smoking wasn’t just seen as socially acceptable but positively beneficial …
All that healthy smoke filling your lungs, seeping its goodness into your bloodstream was just the boost your body needed. You’d live years longer if you smoked … and it was SO COOL.
The , er …, somewhat ‘unexpected political events’ of 2016 have meant that a few points of detail in the book have had to be rewritten! But there’s good news too …
Some, shall we say, not-entirely-predicted elections and other votes have produced a second edition rather earlier than expected! The storyline’s entirely unaltered and the changes in detail aren’t huge either but were necessary for global consistency. However, this has now also allowed Amazon’s direct publishing service to be used, resulting in significantly lower costs for both the paperback and Kindle edition. These cheaper, more up-to-date options can now be downloaded/ordered from:
Full details of all editions and formats can still be seen in The Book.