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Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing 1997th Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0387985886
ISBN-10: 0387985883
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A prodigious effort encompassing 20 lengthy essays, this work attempts to illuminate the future by asking computer professionals and academics how computing and computers will change over the next 50 years. The varied responses come under such titles as "Growing Up in the Culture of Simulation" and "Why It's Good That Computers Don't Work Like the Brain." A typical passage reads: "[The Internet] has grown from an idea motivated by the need to interconnect heterogeneous packet-communication networks to our present-day ubiquitous communication web joining people, businesses, [and] institutions, through various forms of electronic equipment in a common framework." The essays are of course speculative, almost in a free-for-all way, and the conclusions, once unearthed from layers of scholarly expatiation, are something less than astonishing. Marginally recommended for academic libraries.?Robert C. Ballou, Atlanta
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


...a useful, interdisciplinary benchmark of the ever-evolving state of computer capability near the turn of the century. -- Computers in Physics

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 1997 edition (September 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387985883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387985886
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,403,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LeeAnn Stone on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Beyond Calculation is a collection of 20 essays by some of the cream of computing's top echelon. For the most part, these are not futuristic scenarios- the authors present fairly conservative observations regarding the future of computing. This circumspection is no accident - most of the authors have lived and worked through the full range of computing's evolutionary development and they are quite aware of the disjunction between earlier futuristic predictions and today's realities. On the other hand, they are also cognizant of the grand surprises in innovation and culture that have taken computing in directions that futurists of yore never foresaw. On another level, Beyond Calculation provides a fascinating view into a particular community of practice. For as one reads the individual essays, one encounters similarities in references that undoubtedly arise from the fact that many of these essayists have collaborated in a variety of ways over (in some cases) several decades. Many (all?) are associated with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) which published the compendium. What is a common conclusion drawn among these essayists? The message is clear- that this is an environment in which surprises have been and will continue to be the norm (Frankston, 56), and that "we should expect that our understanding is incomplete and wrong so that we can adapt to surprises" (55). The surprises in innovation and the social implications of these innovations preclude us from envisioning at this point whatever the full future of computing will bring.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ted Phillips on February 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
A compilation of 20 essays which speculate about the impacts of future technological advances on society. Divided into sections, the essays address three themes: The Coming Revolution (speculation about hardware, software and networks); Computers and Human Identity (the impact cheap computing may have in regard to the way people live and work); and Business and Innovation (the impact technology will have on business practices and on the process of innovation). The individual authors whose essays were included in the book are all members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The authors responded to a call, in 1997, for papers which would attempt to look 50 years into the future to, "...examine the current realities of how people are using computers and what they [authors] are concerned about, and then project the consequences over the next few decades." (xv)
A 'futures' book, Beyond Calculation offers a positive look at how technology might interact with us in the not-so-distant future. The most impressive quality of the book is the grounded-ness of the essays. As readers, we are not presented with a mountain of pie-in-the-sky predictions that have no basis in reality, or Star Wars-like oohs and ahs. To the contrary, anyone with any knowledge of technology will see that these are serious essays, by qualified technologists taking care to work within a framework of common sense. The futures they paint seem plausible, yet are still surprising. I found myself saying, "of course" many times as I read through the scenarios.
The book itself should be of great interest to anyone who is struggling to get a view of how technology will impact us in the future.
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Format: Paperback
This books serves as a collection of essays from various experts in the field of computing. These essays speculate on the future of computing over the next fifty years. While the material was quite interesting; most of the essays were quite dry. A couple of the essays seemed like a chore to read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SUZANNE ORCUTT on February 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
In the first fifty years of computing, the machine was center stage as we looked at ways the computer could resemble the human mind. In the next fifty years a shift of focus will occur to view the human element first in the design of computers. What will this shift bring into play? Representative authors foresee the onset of 'ubiquitous computing,' 'calm technology,' and a new field of 'interaction design.' The relationship between the individual and the institution will change dramatically, with most institutions ceasing to exist as we currently know them today. We will see profound change in the way we learn and innovate. Moreover, computers will become part of our individual identities. "We will have become the technology we have created." But, will 'smart machines' be able to advise us on how to improve our lives? Is computing helping us to advance our own humanness? Read on.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Tucker on March 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
BEYOND CALCULATION was published in celebration of the golden anniversary of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). The twenty essays explore computing over the next fifty years in terms of the future consequences caused by the way computers are being used today in Part I, The Coming Revolution". The affect computers will have on our lives and identity is discussed in Part II, "Computers and Human Identity". This review will focus on Pare III, Business and Innovation". The writers who contribute to Part III look at the effects of "ubiquitous digital information" on leadership, business practices, innovation, and learning. The omnipresence of digital information is given artificial life in "Sharing Our Planet". Donald D. Chamberlin suggests that, like DNA, digital devices form an ecosystem or "digital habitat". Occupying the ecosystem are "digital individuals", the programs that give the devices function and personality. The "digital habitat" has grown into an interconnected global network. Chamberlin concludes that as a result of the "new digital inhabitants" information becomes free and ubiquitous.
The leader that emerges in the year 2047 will be responsible for the articulation and rearticulation of a company's identity. In an environment where change may be the only constant, the leader takes a new approach to change viewing it as healthy and necessary. The leader must lead the reinvention of a company's identity over time to insure the company's survival. The impact of three decades of computers and information technology has transformed the computer from a calculator and storage device to a vital communication tool.
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