lecture1 - Lecture I Computing and Society A Gentle...

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Lecture I: Computing and Society: A Gentle Introduction Informal and unedited notes, not for distribution. (c) Z. Stachniak, 2011-2012. Note: in cases I were unable to find the primary source of images used in these notes or determine whether or not such images are copyrighted, I have specified the source as ”unknown”. I will provide full information about images and/or obtain reproduction rights when such information is available to me. Reflecting upon technology and society... Why are we behaving in a way we do and not some other way? Does tech- nology impact out behaviour? power our preferences? dictate our choices in almost all aspects of our daily activities? What’s special about computer and information technologies? When we reflect upon the impact of technology on society, computer and information technologies represent canonical examples. It’s continuous and profound. Yet, no singular technological invention or event, no matter how ground- breaking, can account for the creation of the digital electronic computer. Similarly, no digital computer, no matter how powerful or versatile, can sin- gularly explain the rapid transition of our civilization into that of consumers of digital information. The computer and information technologies are examples of high technologies in constant motion, advancing at a speed that makes projections of their fu- ture milestones and impact difficult without a systematic approach grounded in their history and in present technological social and scientific context. In- deed, no invention occurs without such a context created in part by a chain of earlier discoveries, inventions, or contributions, sometimes centuries in the making. 1
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To be is to invent Inventing and its relationship with our needs is what pushes our civilization forward and computing is a canonical example of the continuous interaction between inventing and the forces of cultural, social, economic, technological, and political change. Inventing is: what sets us–humans–apart from other living organisms; inventing is to venture where others have not, stretching beyond conventional frontiers of time, space, and thought; what creates new possibilities, sets new standards, brings social and economic progress and enrichment of knowledge; an expression of freedom, of power to create but also (and unfortu- nately) to dominate, and may bring social and economic injustice, de- struction, and suffering. The interplay between our needs and aspirations, on the one hand, and in- venting new methods to count, calculate, and compute, as well as to store, transmit, process, and access information, on the other hand, has accompa- nied human development since the very beginning of human conscious inter- action with the environment, when counting was reduced to distinguishing between one, two, and many.
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  • Fall '12
  • ZbigniewStachniak
  • Information Technologies, Computing and society, basic arithmetic operations, first mechanical calculators

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