The New Renaissance: Computers and the Next Level of Civilization

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9780195121896: The New Renaissance: Computers and the Next Level of Civilization

The electronic computer, argues Douglas Robertson, is the most important invention in the history of technology, if not all history It has already set off an information explosion that has changed many facets of civilization beyond recognition. These changes have ushered in nothing less than the dawn of a new level of civilization.
In The New Renaissance, Robertson offers an important historical perspective on the computer revolution, by comparing it to three earlier landmarks of human development--language, writing, and printing. We see how these three inventions changed how we capture, store, and distribute information, and how each thereby triggered an information explosion that transformed society, ushering in a new civilization utterly unlike anything before. But history has never seen a revolution on the scale of the one being sparked by computers today. What can we expect from the most important technological breakthrough in human history? Robertson lays out possible scenarios regarding transformations in science and mathematics, education, language, the arts, and everyday life. School children, for instance, will forsake pencil and paper for keyboard and calculator, much as their forebears forsook clay tablets and abaci for pencil and paper. In films, the computer simulations of Jurassic Park could be eclipsed by "synthespians," artificial actors indistinguishable from living ones.
Whether one is a computer enthusiast, a popular science buff, or simply someone fascinated by the future, The New Renaissance provides a breathtaking peek at the magnitude of changes we can expect as the full power of computers is unleashed.

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Review :

Douglas Robertson knows perfectly well that trying to predict the future is difficult enough at any time. In a period of extreme technological change, with great social change fast on its heels, accurate prediction is a dice toss at best. But that doesn't stop him from trying to convey the scope of changes coming.

In The New Renaissance, Robertson begins by looking at how previous, pivotal communications advancements have remade society. He considers, for example, the revolutions that came about with the creations of language, writing, and printing. He argues that advances in scientific theory--from mathematics to cosmology--have transformed our world. He then demonstrates the increasing rate of transformation brought on by computers and concludes that the computer revolution may be the most dramatic of them all. Finally, he looks at some of the potential problems tomorrow's civilization may have to solve, while admitting that some of his speculations should be taken with a grain of salt. Will the world of dance, for example, ever be dominated by computer-generated performers of infinite grace? Perhaps not. But Robertson's goal is not to showcase the true future so much as to demonstrate the level of change coming. In that regard, he provides ample food for thought. --Elizabeth Lewis

About the Author :


Douglas S. Robertson is an adjunct professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and a member of the Colorado Center for Chaos and Complexity, all at the University of Colorado. He lives in Longmont.

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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Douglas S. Robertson
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