computer usage

Ron Press anclondon at gn.apc.org
Mon Dec 5 10:46:20 MST 1994


About the discussion of the use of computers.



I saw in a book called "The Death of Economics" by a Professor Ormerod that some

mathematical econometricist has shown that the "Free Trade System" ie complete

deregulation would work if every buyer and every seller of commodities had

complete information and a perfect computer and software. However if one person

did not the system would break down.



I know that some years ago the GDR had discussions that they should computerise

the economy . They decided against it since they came to the conclusion that it was

in the end a political question.



My own belief is that computers are a tool. As any tool especially a powerful one,

it can be used for good and ill. It depends on who uses the tool. If a factory, or an

economy, is to be run by a computer then who controls? We cannot allow a single

group, a committee, or a president control, ie programme the computer. We have

seen enough disasters come by that path, both in the USSR and the USA. I am sure

computers can be of enormous assistance to humankind but  they are equally an

enormous danger.



I have an ordinary PC. from time to time it crashes. I see that the new Pentium has

a bug in it. Star Wars would have been completely computer reliant. Yet computer

based control of atomic power stations has been condemned as extremely dangerous

by programming experts.



I like tools but at the end of the day they are often unreliable and dangerous.





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