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  •                                  NETFUTURE
    
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    
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    Issue #136                                              September 26, 2002
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                     A Publication of The Nature Institute
               Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
    
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    
    Can we take responsibility for technology, or must we sleepwalk
    in submission to its inevitabilities?  NetFuture is a voice for
    responsibility.  It depends on the generosity of those who support
    its goals.  To make a contribution, click here.
    
    
    CONTENTS
    ---------
    
    Editor's Note
    
    Quotes and Provocations
       The Evolution of Progress
    
    What Are the Right Questions? (Kevin Kelly and Stephen L. Talbott)
        ... regarding machines and organisms
    
    DEPARTMENTS
    
    About this newsletter
    
    
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                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    
    Due to a domain-name disconnect between O'Reilly & Associates (which hosts
    the NetFuture website) and Speednames.com (the domain name registry),
    www.netfuture.org was inaccessible for a week or two, until a few days
    ago.  I was on vacation at the time the problem set in.  You should have
    no difficulty reaching the site now.
    
    
                              ---------------------
    
    With the relatively brief exchange in this issue, Kevin Kelly and I resume
    our ongoing dialogue.  Given our previous difficulty in achieving direct
    engagement, this current installment represents, I think, a kind of
    pulling back on both our parts to reassess how we might proceed more
    effectively.  This introspective pause appears to have been helpful, and I
    am now much more optimistic about the prospects for a mutual illumination
    of our two views.
    
                              ---------------------
    
    A fair while back I mentioned a piece I'd written called "The Lure of
    Complexity", an essay about complexity studies in science.  Part 2 of that
    essay is now available on our website:
    
       http://natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic7/complexity.htm
    
    SLT
    
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                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    
    
    The Evolution of Progress
    -------------------------
    
    A few notes from my re-reading of Historical Consciousness, a 1968
    work by historian John Lukacs:
    
    ** "Those who keep talking about our Revolutionary Age of Dizzying Change
    and of Unprecedented Progress [Lukacs writes] literally don't know what
    they are talking about".  In particular, he argues that, for large numbers
    of people in the West (and especially the U.S.), living conditions -- life
    expectancy and infant mortality; the occurrence of physical pain; the
    quality of personal medical care; the literacy rate; the comfort and
    conveniences su