groups.google.com/group/alt.mindcontrol/browse_thread/thread/125a74839562bc27/7bc05a21f91e69f2?lnk=st&q=nicholas+negroponte&rnum=34&hl=en#7bc05a21f91e69f2 Mind Control at MIT
David M Fisher A review of the book
"being digital by NICHOLAS NEGROPONTE"
No you're not seeing a digital error in the title, that's how it appears in vibrant white alabaster print, pulsating in 0,1 time, on the shinny black cover of this best-selling Random House release by MIT researcher Nicholas Negroponte. As founder and director of the Media Lab at MIT Negroponte has been part of the wave of digital technology from its inception. Because of the speed of this digitally-driven revolution Negroponte has re-directed the themes to many of his essays that first appeared in the pages of Wired Magazine. A visionary and futurist Negroponte has outlined the pros and cons of various digital pathways and offered up his colorful and mind rendering assessments. Sprinkling his descriptions with interesting tid-bits (when puns are outlawed I'll stop using them, maybe) of information. He does a good job describing the fundamentals of the emerging digital world. According to Negroponte, what caused this revolution to occur so rapidly has been the mechanical ability "to compress the raw digital form of sound and picture... by removing...redundancies and repetitions...(at) very high levels of compression much sooner than... predicted." In fact, some Europeans as late as 1993 argued that digital TV would not be a reality till the next millennium. Your Ad Here Given the commanding presence of defense related contracts at MIT and Negroponte's own admitted role in government funded research, it is my speculation that most of what Negroponte envisions is already a digital reality, waiting only for a marketing strategy which perhaps Negroponte is a part. One gets the feeling that his descriptions of future technology such as the set of satellite powered cufflinks more powerful than superman (my analogy) is already in use. Being digital requires the ability to think digitally and Negroponte begins logically enough at the beginning, teaching us to count digitally. When all the numbers that have anything other than 1 and 0 in them are removed You end up with 1,10,11,100,101.... these are the numbers 1,2,3,4,5... and so on, the 1 and 0 are the bits in our bit and byte world where the byte is bigger than the bit by a factor of 8. It appears we are marching off into infinity bit (there's not a law against it yet) by bit. Like Alvin Toffler, Negroponte is a philosopher who envisions a cellular community no longer limited by time and space, that is brought to us on the "head of a pin" fashioning neighborhoods together in smaller digital networks that would shed their nation-state paradigms. He sees less government and more community, resting his hopes with the digital revolution driving itself as it revolves faster and faster from generation to generation. He also seems to feel that computers will be a universal educational phenomena, easy for the children of developing nations to learn, and that computer games teach children strategy and planning skills applicable to later life. However; according to trade magazines, most of the games currently popular today simulate violent war games or competitive sports events from kickboxing to ice hockey; a Circus Americanus of neo-roman gladiators. As this digitally wired future exponentially opens up, legal and ethical tenants will have to be developed to guide us through this exciting new techno-frontier. In a chapter called the “Bit Police” Negroponte delineates a problem associated with the changing face of broadcasting. In the old days each medium had its wave spectrum which was physically defined by its broadcasting medium; radio, television or cellular telephonery. However, the digital medium is blurred and the use of bit-waves would have to be monitored to determine if indeed the company receiving the licensed broadcast was applying it to the proper mode, that is to make sure a radio licensee for instance is not broadcasting waves used for TV. Here Negroponte argues against government regulation and for market economies and strategies that would promote plurality of media by replacing cross-ownership laws with digital guidelines and incentives. With respect to bit protection Negroponte poses a question about traditional copyright laws which protect the expression and form of an idea as opposed to the idea it self. He leaves us crying for resolution; "To what degree can the notion of formless data be extended to less prosaic material?... When bits are bits we have a whole new suite of questions....the medium is no longer the message." In otherwords the receiver of digital data, not limited by broadcast medium, will then transfer it to anyone of the multi-communinication modes it chooses. Since new multimedia friendly regulations are needed to encourage this new two bit (Im sic) digital communication mode, my question is. How will these new laws be fashioned to impact the public good? Negroponte has stretched the digital imagination and mapped out broad new horizons. He has given us a peek at future technology currently shrouded in the cloak of defense contracts and top secret government experiments, to which he has been a party. He has espoused his belief in a market driven economy in which only the world banking community is exempted from state sponsored encryption laws and the only foreseen conflict is between generations. For myself I believe that social evolution must be guided by a humanitarian influence. If Negroponte looks too closely he might have to question Defense Department use of technology he helped create, bringing him face to face with the moral dilemma which is at the heart of this technology debate. Alex Constantine's book "Psychic Dictatorship in the USA" (1995) calls into question the ethicality and morality of research done by the Defense Department at MIT. Should the technology be used to control the individual, or should it be used by the individual to gain more self-control? The ethics of a scientist should be different than those of the politician or defense contractor. If we are to use this technology in a responsible manner then we must develop a policy that takes into account the social and environmental factors of our current crisis. Perhaps Negroponte's vision has been jaded by his close association with the goals of Defense Department officials who are using this technology to control humans rather than to help them. I agree with Negroponte that this technology offers humanity new hope. I envision it could be adapted as part of a curriculum in which students K-12 are part of the solution to our environmental and economic problems, not in competition with an older generation as Negroponte sees it, but as an extension of that generation working in tandem with it to help promote our social evolutionary progress. The problems we are dealing with today are complex because they have penetrated every fiber of our social and economic fabric. Unfortunately, like the digitally-symbolic black and white cover of his book, Negroponte's market place solution is too simplistic Return to cover page[Image]