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  • Selected Reviews of

    The Future Does Not Compute

    Where "fulltext" is indicated, follow the link; otherwise, only fair-use excerpts are provided here.

    The library journal, Choice (January, 1997) selected The Future Does Not Compute as one of its six "Outstanding Academic Books" for 1996 in the field of Information and Computer Science."

    J. Mayer, Choice, May, 1996

    Talbott's important, seminal work should be read by everyone working with computers....His penetrating discussions of works by H. Rheingold, G. Gilder, and S. Papert are models of dispassionate analysis. This short review cannot do justice to the scope and depth of this first critical study of computers since J. Weizenbaum's Computer Power and Human Reason.
    Stephen Horvath, Logos--The Journal of the World Book Community, vol. 11, issue 2, 2000
    There are many words--complex, eccentric, thoughtful, stimulating, perplexing, penetrating--suitable to describe this challenging book, suitable but inadequate. It is a deep exegesis (at times very deep) of the problem of man's relationship to computer-based technology and its manifestations--the Internet, digital images, virtual reality and as a medium of entertainment and communication. The author sums up his brief early on: "We and our mechanical offspring are bound together in an increasingly tight weave. To substantially modify the larger pattern -- rather than simply be carried along by it -- requires profound analysis of things not immediately evident, and a difficult effort to change things not easily changed."
    Miles O'Neal, Unix Review's "Best Books of 1995," January, 1996
    Talbott tears apart all the standard conceptions and misconceptions and gets down to basics -- the meaning of things; the differences between data, information, and wisdom; how people communicate and interact -- and builds his discussion logically and artfully.

    While I disagree with some of his conclusions, Talbott challenged many of my assumptions and long-held feelings about the roles of the Internet and computers in my life. He does this better than anyone has in a long time.

    Philomena O'Brien, New Scientist, August 19, 1995
    There is a sense of excitement in books of this type: they are accessible to nonscientists without sacrificing essential rigor. Like Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, we read them with the same enthusiasm with which we once read journals of literature and the arts....

    Talbott shows an impressive grasp of the breathless pace of change in our society that computers have wrought. He discusses their application against an array of questions concerning human relations, cultural identity, the machine/mind interface, and the future of computer science....

    A very thoughtful book, if a pessimistic one.

    Stephanie Syman, Rolling Stone, November, 1995
    Every revolution has its detractors, and the digital revolution has spawned a cottage industry of anti-technology polemics. While some of these smack of sentimentalism or, worse, posit a rose-tinted vision of predigital society, [The Future Does Not Compute] takes a more balanced look at the downside of information technologies. Stephen L. Talbott...is inte