ONCE UPON THE FUTURE: A Woman Guide to Tomorrow's Technology by Jan Zimmerman

ONCE UPON THE FUTURE: A Woman Guide to Tomorrow's Technology

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An examination on how technology has created and reinforced a divison between the haves and the have-nots and between men and women--a large number of whom are presently or potentially have nots. As Zimmerman points out, the industrial revolution removed men from homes, farms and home-based crafts and isolated women in unpaid work within the family dwelling. She cites statistics indicating that today's women--presumably including those who have outside jobs--spend as much time on domestic chores as their female forebears did before the advent of modern home appliances. Furthermore, she says, the mass media has brainwashed middle-class women into providing the type of immaculate home and quality meals once only available to wealthy households staffed with servants. Zimmerman believes that new reproductive technology and the computer and robot revolutions will further enhance the isolation and impoverishment of women and also increase the invasion of the privacy of all of us via new surveillance techniques and the interfacing of data bases containing information on our finances and personal lives. She points out that test-tube babies and surrogate motherhood are today pretty much restricted to wealthy couples. She envisions the possibility of creation of a class of poor women who would ""rent their wombs"" to carry the fetuses of the wealthy--much as wet nurses of yore rented out their breasts. The ""electronic cottage"" of tomorrow could, she says, establish a female class of data processors and male executives interfacing with the rest of the world via computers. Zimmerman calls for women to ""take control of technology"" via political and social action in order to get true control over their own lives. While Zimmerman, who is a co-founder of a software development firm, has a superb grasp of the implications of the computer revolution, she tends to get fuzzy about robotics, bioengineering and reproductive technology. Thus, her suggestions on how women can have a definitive voice on the adoption of future technologies fall a bit fiat. A well-argued--and timely--thesis nevertheless.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Pandora/Methuen