Die Macht der Computer und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft
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Die Macht der Computer und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Computer Power and Human Reason is a distinguished computer scientist's elucidation of the impact of scientific rationality on man's self-image.
Paperback, 366 pages
Published 1990 by Suhrkamp (first published 1976)
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This was a book I really wanted to read after having heard much about it and, of course, played with ELIZA and 'her' successors (and produced my own paltry successor). I'm glad I made the effort to track it down.

I really relate to Weizenbaum as a writer, because there are two clear sides to the way he approaches his topic. He starts by talking science in what is a quite accessible but no less technical manner. He quickly shows himself to be a person who, more than merely knowing the theories and...more
In addition to walking down memory lane, reminiscing on my study of computer engineering, I enjoyed a technical, philosophical, as well as ethical treatment of artificial intelligence. I do like that Weizenbaum was willing to "just say no" to certain projects on a computer. And I truly felt his impassioned call toward personal responsibility in the last chapter.

The one thing that played out very differently than Weizenbaum predicted was speech recognition. He felt it would be too expensive and n...more
William Li
Probably the most important book that I misunderstood in college.
Interesting anti-artificial intelligence argument from one of the pioneers of AI (he developed that program ELIZA which simulates a psychiatrist that parrots back your responses to you -- if you messed with you computers in the 80s you likely played some variant of it). Was suggested in Godel, Escher, Bach as a important counter viewpoint, which is how I ended up reading it.
Having practiced computer model building for a while, I have often been perplexed by the way managers respond to these decision support tools. This book helps reveal the motivations and beliefs of those who would, if they could, make all quantitative analysis automatic and disconnected from the process of thinking.

I have read this book twice and yet I think I still haven't completely grasped the point Weizenbaum is making about the the problems with the way computers execute their commands.
Alex Railean
I really enjoyed this one, it covers the problem from many aspects and the author places a great emphasis on the moral side of the issue too.

Besides that, if you're interested in understanding how computers work - this is a good choice. If you liked "Code" by Charles Petzold, you will find some of the first chapters of this book familiar.
Paul Berry
A book too important to be read just once.
Still relevant and thought provoking.
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Wo Sind Sie, Die Inseln Der Vernunft Im Cyberstrom?: Auswege Aus Der Programmierten Gesellschaft Kurs Auf Den Eisberg Zur Anpassung Des Designs An Die Digitalen Medien Sind Computer Die Besseren Menschen?: Ein Streitgespräch Computermacht Und Gesellschaft. Freie Reden

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“Our time prides itself on having finally achieved the freedom from censorship for which libertarians in all ages have struggled...The credit for these great achievements is claimed by the new spirit of rationalism, a rationalism that, it is argued, has finally been able to tear from man's eyes the shrouds imposed by mystical thought, religion, and such powerful illusions as freedom and dignity. Science has given us this great victory over ignorance. But, on closer examination, this victory too can be seen as an Orwellian triumph of an even higher ignorance: what we have gained is a new conformism, which permits us to say anything that can be said in the functional languages of instrumental reason, but forbids us to allude to...the living truth...so we may discuss the very manufacture of life and its 'objective' manipulations, but we may not mention God, grace, or morality.” 3 likes
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