An island of reason in the cyberstream – on the life and thought of Joseph Weizenbaum


The juxtaposition between the potential of technology and its actual manifestation can be rather jarring. Tools that promise to make tasks easier are used to automate people out of their jobs, devices that trumpet their power of connectivity leave their users feeling alienated, and the machines that propel humans to the stars are the cousins of rocket delivery systems that could rain doom upon humanity. In writing about the “paradoxical role” of technology Joseph Weizenbaum captured this disjunction eloquently, noting “Our adventure with science and technology has brought us to the very brink of self-destruction…and also to unprecedented comfort and even self-fulfillment to many of us. Some of us are beginning to think it is not such a fair bargain after all.”[1]

As a computer scientist and longtime professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Joseph Weizenbaum has secured himself a well-deserved place in the annals of computer…

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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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