HUMAN-NETS Digest Tuesday, 2 Apr 1985 Volume 8 : Issue 13
Response to Query - Work Environments,
Computers and People - Digital Utility Centers,
Computer Networks - World Ear Project,
Information - Seminars (2 msgs)
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 85 09:17 EST
Subject: Re: HUMAN-NETS Digest V8 #12
Re: Jon McCombie's comment:
There are some who actually *prefer* to be in a bull-pen
environment, though in my experience they are a rather small
minority. I would be interested in hearing the reasons of
someone who so prefers.
If there are high-productivity programmers who actually *prefer* a
bull-pen, I too would like to hear from them. I have trouble
believing such people exist.
Date: Wed 20 Mar 85 08:34:59-EST
From: Wayne McGuire <MDC.WAYNE%MIT...@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject: Digital Utility Centers
To: info-...@BRL-VGR.ARPA, vide...@SRI-CSL.ARPA
It's become apparent in recent weeks that the bottom has fallen
out of the home computer market. Whether the collapse in demand for
home computers will equal in severity the videogame bust of a few
years ago is still an open question, but that possibility must be
taken into account.
A column by Fred D'Ignazio in the April Compute! suggests what
is required before home computers become as common as the telephone:
namely, the massive and seamless integration of a number of
technologies--videodiscs, optical fibers, expert systems, portable
laptop computers, speech recognition, videotex, the Integrated
Services Digital Network (ISDN), integrated software, artificial
intelligence, satellite communications, speech synthesis, natural
language understanding, television, telephony, etc.
D'Ignazio argues that as powerful as the new generation of micros
appears compared to what was available a few years ago, microcomputer
technology, and its Worldnet environment, will have to improve by many
orders of magnitude before micros become an appliance for the masses.
He may have a point:
From Compute!, April 1985, pp. 138-140:
Experts predict that a real home computer will not appear until
computers are integrated into all aspects of people's lives, including
banking, shopping, working, communicating, and entertainment. A real
home computer will not sit alone on a desktop and look like a
typewriter plugged into a TV set. Instead, it will be a hybrid
machine--part TV, part telephone, part videocassette recorder, and
part stereo system. It will be the brains of a general-purpose
digital utility center that a family operates to hear music, watch
movies and TV, make phone calls, control household appliances, and pay
The home computer of the present is made up of awkward,
ill-fitted, and confusing components. The day its components fuse
together into a single digital utility center that is sold at discount
supermarkets, it will truly become a mass-market device.
The digital utility center will come in a single box and plug
into the wall with a single cord. The center's audio, video, and
computer software will be uniform and standardized (in some kind of
optical or magnetic format), and will play everything--from
educational games to Bruce Springsteen to the latest Burt Reynolds
All the recordings will be digital and capable of being stored on
a single, high-density storage device. All programming will be in
English and will consist of making simple choices from a menu of
selections that appears on a screen and are read to the user aloud by
the center's synthesized voice. Input will be from a keyboard, light
pen, mouse, microphone, or touch screen, depending on the individual's
preference. No technical knowledge whatsoever will be needed to
operate the center. And the center will come with one- to five-year
warranties, full service contracts, and modular, replaceable parts.
When the digital utility center arrives, the home computer will
really be a mass-market appliance. But when computers have become
digital utility centers, they will no longer be computers. To
paraphrase Joseph Weizenbaum, a digital utility center to a computer
is the same as a vacuum cleaner to an electric motor.
Before we see consumers going wild over digital utility centers,
a lot of separate developments have to take place. Audio, video,
communications, and computer hardware must evolve much further and
become more integrated, digital, compatible and inexpensive. Software
for the separate devices has to be integrated under a single
multimedia operating system and has to adopt a standardized storage
and data interchange format.
In addition, the software must have a friendly, human-like
mouthpiece that deals with us in our natural, spoken language and is
not only user-friendly but also user-forgiving. The software will
have to fill in the gaps in people's commands, correct their typos and
misspellings, not let them make any serious mistakes, hold their hand
as they work their way through a task, and anticipate what they will
want to do next.
Most important of all, a mass-market home computer will require a
reliable, universal communications network that links the digital
utility center into very-high-speed satellite channels that support
two-way instantaneous transmission of voices, music, video images,
computer-generated pictures, text, and numerical data. This network,
too, must be standardized, instantly available at the push of a CALL
button on the digital utility center, and invisible to the user.
Only when such a network is in place will the digital utility
center become popular with a majority of consumers. Only then will
all the pie-in-the-sky promises of computer enthusiasts become
Such a network will make it possible to do home banking,
telecommuting, shopping at home, and attending courses and classes at
home. People will be able to purchase all the new records, movies,
computer software, and books over the network and have them downloaded
into into their local mass-storage device or into a portable computer
that they can detach from the main unit and carry with them when they
The lesson in all this is that our vision of the home computer
has been too limited, and that's why we keep having false starts. Our
vision has been limited by the fact that we are still too close to the
computer's birth; we are still too familiar with the computer's early
stages and functions to see what it may ultimately become.
We are only now beginning to move beyond the image of the
computer as a computing engine that juggles numbers and processes
paychecks. But we must go much further. We must see the computer as
only a part of the digital revolution of all human media--voice,
music, art, graphics, film, literature, and so on. As all science,
art, technology, and communications are digitized, the computer
assumes a central role as a translator among the media, and as a
terminal linking human beings to the media and to each other.
The computer should enable the average person to enter
information in any medium (pictures, voice, text, whatever) and
instantly translate it (at the discretion of the person) into any
other medium--or into several different media. It should then enable
the person to send the package to any other person. Likewise, anyone
who uses a computer should have instant access to all media in any
format they wish.
This sounds extremely abstract, so picture the home computer of
the future as the United Nations Building. It will have two major
functions: translator and terminal. It will house all the disparate
streams of digitized information representing all the different media,
and it will translate them back and forth at the needs and whims of
the user. And it will be plugged into the outside world (of cultures,
peoples, nations, and institutions) and capable of vital two-way
communication with that world in any language that is appropriate.
Date: 25 Mar 85 23:05 +0100
Subject: World Ear Project from KPFA-FM in Berkeley Ca.
(Text 96800) 85-03-20 20:53 Richard Friedman PSR (several receivers)
Subject: World Ear Project - An Invitation to All.
This is an open invitation to all COM participants around the
world to also participate in the World Ear Project, currently
being organized by the Berkeley (California) non-commercial
VHF radio station KPFA . The goal is to produce a series of
radio programs (monthly for now) using ambient sound material
recorded by people around the world and sent to KPFA. These
programs are currently being aired on KPFA (program #2 is March 25)
and will be distributed later to other radio stations in the US
and, hopefully, around the world.
With the recent advances in tape recorder technology, very hight
quality recordings (in stereo) can now be made by the general public
on cassette recorders costing $200 to $400. Ten years ago, when I
started the Project (it lasted only a few months then) this quality
was available only at the high end of the portable tape recorder
market, for more than $1000. We at KPFA have now revitalized the
World Ear Project after noting that there was already a growing number
of recording enthusiasts trading tapes of sounds from exotic (and
not so exotic) places.
What better way to reach a world-wide audience than thru COM!
So here we are inviting anyone to participate who has one of these
high quality cassette or reel-to-reel stereo portable recorders.,
to go out into the field (city streets, open places, buildings, etc.)
and make extended recordings of the "sonic landscape", send them
to us, and they will become part of our programs.
Send tapes to World Ear Project
Berkeley, CA USA 94704
Due to the meagre budget we have to work with, we cannot return the
recordings, so make a copy for yourself and send us the originals.
Include written information about the landscape recorded and about
the recording process itself. We will let you know if it gets
included in a broadcast and when.
We'll also send you a World Ear Poster, currently being printed.
For more information, send me COM mail.
In or next program, on March 25, we will be broadcasting the sounds
of the streets of Tunis, a sunrise near Darwin, Australia, frogs and
crickets at Harbin Hot Springs, in Northern California, the sounds of
a hospital in Los ANgeles, etc etc.
(Text 96800)------------------------------ (1 comment)
Date: 28 March 1985 02:32-EST
From: Steven A. Swernofsky <SASW @ MIT-MC>
Subject: [JOHN: Fredkin Seminar]
MSG: *MSG 3856
Date: 03/27/85 17:23:43
From: JOHN at MIT-XX
Re: Fredkin Seminar
Date: Wed 27 Mar 85 17:27:12-EST
From: John J. Doherty <JO...@MIT-XX.ARPA>
Subject: Fredkin Seminar
DATE: April 1, 1985
TIME: Refreshments 1:50 P.M.
Seminar 2:00 P.M.
COMPUTER COMMUNITIES SEMINAR SERIES
COMPUTATION AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS
Prof. Edward Fredkin
Chairman: Fredkin Enterprises, S.A.
The social organization of a country can have a great effect on the
possible benefits that can be derived from modern computer technology.
A case in point is the dilemma faced by the Soviet Union. They cannot
move into the modern computer age while maintaining their current
rigid controls on the flow of information within the USSR. This
dilemma is made especially clear when one considers the consequences
of millions of personal computers distributed throughout the Soviet
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 85 21:43:57 pst
PROGRAM FOR MEETING OF SOCIETY FOR PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHOLOGY
University of Toronto, Wednesday May 15 - Saturday May 18, 1985
For copy of symposium abstracts and more information about the
program [note that there may still be room for some discussants or
speakers], the usenet address for the Program Chairman, Stevan
Harnad, is: bellcore!princeton!mind!srh
or write to: Stevan Harnad, Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 20 Nassau
Street, Suite 240, Princeton NJ 08540
For information about local arrangements, write to: David Olson,
McLuhan Center, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
For information about the Society and attendance, write to:
Owen Flanagan, Secretary/Treasurer, Society for Philosophy &
Psychology, Philosophy Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley,
MA 02181 Program follows [participant lists are in several cases
only partial; other contributors will also be on the program]:
Workshop (2 full sessions)
Ia & Ib. Artificial Intelligence Versus Neural Modeling in
Psychological Theory Participants include: P. & P. Churchland, P.C.
Dodwell, J. Feldman, A. Goldman, S. Grossberg, S.J. Hanson, A.
Newell, A. Pellionisz, R. Schank.
II. Category Formation
Participants include: S. Harnad, R. Jackendoff, N. Macmillan,
C. Mervis, R. Millikan, R. Schank.
III. Unconscious Processing
Participants include: T. Carr, A. Marcel, P. Merikle.
IV. Memory and Consciousness
Participants include: K. Bowers, M. Moscovitch, D. Schacter,
A. Marcel, R. Lockhart, E. Tulving.
V. New Directions in Evolutionary Theory
Participants include: A. Rosenberg, M. Ruse, E. Sober.
VI. Paradoxical Neurological Syndromes
Participants include: M. Gazzaniga, A. Kertesz, A. Marcel.
VII. The Empirical Status of Psychoanalytic Theory
Participants include: M. Eagle, E. Erwin, A. Grunbaum, J. Masling,
B. von Eckardt.
VIII. The Scientific Status of Parapsychological Research
Participants include: J. Alcock, C. Honorton, R.L. Morris, M. Truzzi.
IX. The Reality of the "G" (General) Factor in the Measurement and
Modeling of Intelligence
Participants include: A. Jensen, W. Rozeboom.
X. The Ascription of Knowledge States to Children: Seeing,
Believing and Knowing
Participants include: D. Olson & J. Astington, J. Perner & H. Wimmer,
M. Taylor & J. Flavell, F. Dretske, S. Kuczaj.
XI. Psychology, Pictures and Drawing
Participants include: J. Caron-Prague, S. Dennis, J. Kennedy,
D. Pariser, S. Wilcox, J. Willats, S. Brison
Contributed Paper Sessions (4):
XII. Perception and Cognition
XIII. Induction and Information
XIV. Evolution of Cognitive and Social Structures
XV. Inferences About the Mind
End of HUMAN-NETS Digest