Machines with a purpose

New York: Oxford University Press (1990)
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Abstract

There is at present a widespread unease about the direction in which our technology is taking us, apparently against our will. Promising advances seem to carry with them unforeseen negative consequences, including damage to the environment and the reduction of work to the trivial mechanical repetition of actions which have no human meaning. However, attempts to design a better, human-centered technology--one that complements rather than rejects human skills--are all too often frustrated by the prevailing belief that "man is a machine," and one, moreover, that compares badly in terms of performance and durability. This contentious and stimulating book offers a new approach, one that refutes four centuries of science based on strictly causal explanations. It shows that man and nature can be viewed as "machines with a purpose," and that the "purpose" can be the advancement of technology to the benefit and not the detriment of the human race and its environment. This fascinating work is accessible to a wide range of readers, scientists and nonspecialists alike. It will interest anyone concerned about the impact of technology and the way it is shaping our world.

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