The ""micro"" is for microprocessor, the great leap forward in miniaturization of computer hardware, and the millennium may...

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THE MICRO MILLENNIUM

The ""micro"" is for microprocessor, the great leap forward in miniaturization of computer hardware, and the millennium may be good news or bad--good news if you're like Christopher Evans, an English psychologist and computer scientist who died suddenly last year, or bad, if you're-like Lewis Thomas and others who wince at the very thought of Artificial Intelligence. Evans, in fact, goes a step further to predict the Ultra-Intelligent Machine, surpassing Homo sapiens. He begins this futurist book with a survey of past developments--from Babbage and Byron's daughter to von Neumann and the first programmable machines--and present trends (including the economic insight that Japan is tooling up to be the number one computer power of the '80's.) Evans' forecasts are divided into short range (the next few years) and long--up to the year 2000, by which time dramatic upheavals will presumably be in place. So, echoing others in this vein, he predicts the nil-hour work week; the computer doctor, lawyer, teacher, judge; tightly secure homes with robotic machines for chores. Money, of course, will be obsolete; we will carry the all-purpose credit card. Evans, to be sure, discusses the turbulence of transition. Before foolproof identity-coding, you may be murdered for your credit card to prevent your reporting its loss; military use, invasion of privacy, and blackmail all present dangers, not to mention the potential interference of assorted Luddites, white-collar or professional workers, and have-not nations. But overall Evans the optimist is short on consequences, glib on notions of intelligence, opinionated on the nature of human nature. Still, it's worthwhile knowing what's up--for better or worse.

Pub Date: April 18, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980