CS009: Computers and Human Values
Department of Computer Science, Brown University
Notes, November 1st -- Roger B. Blumberg

What We Need and What We Want

Introduction: Seeing the Possibility in Technology
"Modern media ... portrays the future as being relatively devoid of individualism. But technology will serve to empower the single man, for he will define his own reality in a world where everything is possible. He will inject chaos into an ever more automatic system, thus exerting control."
Ross Frazier, "Technology Empowering Individuals" (2005)

We'll begin with a short discussion of the first set of essays, which were not only good but remarkably optimistic about technology and human possibilities. This optimism is worth looking at carefully in light of Marx's claims about man-in-society and his ideas about "alienation".

Marx's Manifesto of the Communist Party III

"The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win."

We'll consider the last section of the Manifesto, and ask what we can learn from Marx in a society in which "workers" have more to lose, perhaps, than their chains, and seem increasingly unlikely to win very much (never mind The World).We'll combine this with a discussion of the 3rd Manuscript, in which Marx presents a more detailed and dramatic portrait of human "being" under capitalism.

For Next Time: Read at least Part One of David Brin's The Transparent Society.

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