Click for next page ( 80

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 79
THE TWILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 79 while making clear that meaning is not necessarily or even usually shared. The discussion here is based on that manuscript and on talks with Professor Cherry about that draft in Aspen, Colorado, the summer before he died. 8. Lewis Branscomb, '`Infonnation: The Ultimate Frontier,'7 Science, January 12, 1979, pp. 143-147. 9. C. Cherry, "A Second Industrial Revolution?' (unpublished manuscript). 10. Comments about the obsolescence of both liberal and Marxist approaches are found in the influential examination of the effects of the new communication and computer technologies on society by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in L'informatisation de la Societe. Originally produced as a commissioned report from the two civil servants to President Giscard d'Estaing, it quickly became a best seller in France and influenced the thinking of Giscard's successor, President Franc~ois Mitterand. The book was eventually translated into English as The Computerization of Society (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1981), with an introduction by Daniel Bell. The English version of the title misses the point that Nora and Minc were making in their book- which is that the marriage of computer and telecommunication technologies is the new dimension of society. 11. Chester Barnard's theory of executive process is spelled out in The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938). 12. Paul Appleby, Policy and Administration (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1949), p. 21 13. Charles Lindblom's book, The Intelligence of Democracy (New York: Free Press, 1965), introduced the concept of '~mutual adjustment'' in the management of both public and private organizations and institutions. He updated his thoughts in a lecture at the University of Minnesota's Center for Strategic Management Research, "Incremental Strategy: Still Muddling Through,'' on May 13, 1983. 14. The comment by David Riesman comes from my extensive correspondence with him on the subject of openness in university governance. 15. Ivan Illich argued that computers are doing to communication what fences did to pastures, in 'Silence Is a Commons," The CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1983, pp. 5-9. 16. See note 15. 17. Magda Cordell McHale, `'The Feminist Model.'' Center for Integrative Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1984. Comments ALEXANDER H. FLAX President Emeritus Institute for Defense Analyses Harlan Cleveland paper, as befits the subject of this symposium, is truly global in scope, not only geographically, but in its full sweep, in its contem- plation of human affairs, and in treating civilization as an integrated whole. Its insights into the nature of changes in society being wrought by the rapid pace of progress in information technology are profound and thought-provok- ~ng. It would be very difficult indeed to do justice to this paper in a brief discussion, but I think it would not be amiss to talc about a few things from

OCR for page 79
80 HARLAN CLEVEI~ND the standpoint of an engineer, this, after all, being a symposium of the National Academy of Engineering. It is heartening that Ambassador Cleveland sees the portents of the new information technology for society as predominantly benign. There are some doubts expressed, but mainly his is an upbeat appraisal, and this for engineers who have lived through the traumas of the 1960s and early 1970s is a welcome change. We all heard the dire predictions of unemployment that Norbert Weiner made and that many others picked you may recall The Human Use of Human Beings. We are once burned, twice shy. We should not assume that society will naturally accept the benefits of new technologies without our doing anything about it. We must remain aware of those other voices saying that this new information technology may undermine civil rights in the United States through invasions of privacy and that the very openness of the information could result in pervasive data banks which could be used for repressive and harmful activities. We need a countervailing logic and this paper helps provide it, but I don't think it solves the problem for all time. In fact, there are some real problems that engineering can help solve in the handling of data to help prevent some of these abuses. We should always keep those in mind. Let me also comment on the fact that Ambassador Cleveland has addressed, for the most part, the benign role of leaking information, or more pervasive information if you like. He has talked about information leaking primarily in the context of democratic societies. There are others who fear that in a totalitarian or police state some of the new information technology can be used to make repression more effective, much along the lines of Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World or B. F. Skinner's Walden 2, and we must be aware of that dimension of the problem. The other area that is of special interest to engineers is what the famous structural engineer Hardy Cross called the third member of the trilogy of engineering. The trilogy was, to paraphrase, science and technology, econom- ics, and social dynamics. This was long before the protest movements, but nevertheless Cross counted the interaction of technology with society as very important. We cannot ignore the role of economics in striking an equilibrium. That is, any one of the elements of the trilogy cannot run wild because another one will check it, and that is as true for social wants, needs, and desires as it is for technology. We have seen that new information technology is subject to the inexorable laws of economics in the marketplace. You only have to recall the picturephone or the premature attempts to put computer-based instruction in the schools in the early 1960s. Neither took hold. I assure you that there will be more things that will not be accepted. That is how we discover what things work: we try them. Economics is going to put bounds and limits on how far we can go in any of these directions, although I think that we will go a long way and very much along the line that Ambassador Cleveland has described. Certainly this timely, wide-ranging, farsighted over- view of where we are going with this new information technology deserves careful study by engineers.