1. write a one paragraph summary statement about the article
characterizing the main message of the article?

The main message is asking engineers and other
people involved in technology to take a step back and consider the
greater implications of their work. An example Joy makes heavy use of
are the scientists which worked on the atomic bomb project. They all
knew the primary use of their work would be to kill many people in an
instant and many of its secondary effects were not understood. Yet
when the possibility of using this weapon on Japan came about, no one
suggested NOT using it. Joy argues they should have. Some
questions to ask yourself when working on such a project might be,
"What will happen to the world if this is distributed on a wide
scale?", "If everyone in the world did this, what would the greater
implications be?", and "Will there be any consequences if this falls
into the wrong hands?".

2. Who is Bill Joy?

Bill Joy is a founder of Sun Microsystems and an
architect of the SPARC architecture. I'm not familiar with him beyond
knowing that.

3. what did you find

3.1. interesting about the article?

I found the passage qouted from the Unabomber the
most thought provoking part of the entire article. I had no idea his
writing dealt with such subjects, and would be interested in reading
more of it.

3.2. not find interesting about the article?

I thought the whole article was interesting.

4. with which arguments (focused on predicting future developments) do you

4.1. agree

I strongly agree with the proposal that people
consider the potential use of their work on a wide scale before
releasing it, or in some cases even before continuing work on that
project. Specifically, I agree that people need to take personal
responsibility for their developments. An atrocity cannot be justified
with, "I was just doing my job." People far too often feel their
actions are justified by some kind of corporate anonymity. History has
shown humans to be hasty in much of their decision making. Look at
"advances" such as CFCs or asbestos. It should have been obvious to
the people working on those substances that there would be the
potential for widespread worldwide use. Especially in the CFC case, it
should have been obvious that significant quantities of these
chemicals would be released into the Earth's atmosphere. But it was
not until years after their introduction and widespread use that we
realized there could be problems. A more global perspective could have
prevented these substances from being deployed in the first

4.2. disagree

One thing I disagree with is the assertion that
people individually have the capabilities necessary to analyze their
work in a larger context. Some people will simply not care whether or
not their work has a world impact. Some people will specifically seek
out work which has a negative world impact. I guess what I am trying
to say is that this invididual responsibility is just not
enough. There also needs to be a societal mechanism for keeping tabs
on things in general, possibly offering training on how to better
understand and evaluate such responsibilities.

5. does the article relate to

5.1. other topics / themes you have studied at CU?

The article mentions several aspects of machine
learning. Joy says a completely artificial intelligence is not
possible on today's computers, but in 30 years or so nanotechnology
may provide the computing power necessary to sustain such an
intelligence. I find this reasoning highly suspect; even if we had the
necessary computational power for an AI, would we be able to develop
such an insanely complicated system that would actually work? Also,
computational power is one necessity, but another, perhaps even less
realistic necessity will be the vast amount of storage needed to
support each AI.

5.2. to your personal interests and life?

Beyond being a member of a society in which things
like this are happening all around me, no.

6. how should we react to this article

6.1. on an individual basis?

As I already described some above, it would be nice
if everyone could consider a global perspective in everything they
do. But, it is not reasonable to expect everyone to put their work in
the proper perspective, or even to care if there is some negative

6.2. on a societal basis?

It would be nice if some group could regulate
global responsibility and had the executive power to stop any
project with potentially negative global impact. However, this idea
is not very realistic. Would a law be passed along such lines?
Corporations would never support such a law. It is always hard to move
society, so maybe the best idea is to just get these ideas out there
and get more people thinking about them.

7. which concepts /names mentioned in the article did you not understand?

I felt I understood everything pretty well.

8. would you consider yourself

8.1. a techno-utopist (“glorifying the future”)
8.2. a techno-pessimist (“glorifying the past”)
8.3. or how would you characterize your own position?

In many ways my outlook is similar to Joy's. At
this point I am firmly entrenched in technology, and as long as I see
no reasonable way to live without it, I will be using it. So I cannot
be a techno-pessimist. But at the same time, I see technology being
used in a careless manner all around me, and it makes me fear for the
future. I certainly empathize the techno-pessimist outlook.

9. how well have futurists succeeded or failed to predict the disappearance in the digital age of

9.1. paper

This is probably the area which has most
disappeared in the digital age. People rarely use mail for
correspondance anymore, simple notes are often jotted down in files on
computers, and scrap/draft paper has largely been replaced by
on-screen editing. Obviously books are still printed on paper, but I
believe paper is used less in general and out of all four of these,
this is the best prediction of the futurists.

9.2. books

Although we now see several digital book offerings,
paper books will still be around for the foreseeable future. Many
people like books for various reasons: they find printing easier to
read, they like to be able to open and look at several books at once,
simply sentimental value, etc. I am not even sure if the digital age
has prompted a reduction in sales in the book industry, I have a
feeling it has not. I think futurists predictions about the
dissappearance of books is the most incorrect out of these

9.3. physical libraries

We are always hearing how useless libraries are
with the advent of the Internet. Yet, libraries still exist and get
public funding. Libraries still have people using them. As long as
books remain popular, libraries will also remain popular. Futurists
were wrong about this one as well.

9.4. distances between people

This area is a mixed success. We have certainly
come along way in long distance communication, but it is not the
panacea for solving distance problems. I think futurists would have
argued that the advent of teleconferencing would alleviate the need
for people to ever have to travel to a meeting. Yet this has not
happened; people still see value in face-to-face correspondance, and I
do not see this changing in the near future.