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A bit OT and a bit of an eugology. Cribbed from comp.risks

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by josephkk, May 18, 2013.

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  1. josephkk

    josephkk Guest

    Date: May 7, 2013 9:49:57 PM EDT
    From: Doug Schuler <>
    Subject: CPSR dissolution; Gary Chapman gets CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award

    [We infrequently run an obit notice, but I don't recall ever running one
    for an organization. However, if organizations are people, then this
    not really set a new precedent. Incidentally, CPSR was mention twice in
    the very first issue of RISKS in 1985, and Gary Chapman contributed to
    RISKS-1.37 and 1.46, as then director of CPSR. Created by Severo
    Ornstein, and subsequently led by Gary and Marc Rotenberg, CPSR was a
    major player in activities related to RISKS, as Doug notes here.
    Posthumously giving the final Norbert Wiener Award to Gary is very
    fitting. I hope the CPSR website can survive ( as an
    historically relevant site. PGN]

    It is my unenviable task to announce that Computer Professionals for
    Responsibility (CPSR), a non-profit educational corporation, has been

    CPSR was launched in 1981 in Palo Alto, California, to question the
    computerization of war in the United States via the Strategic Computing
    Initiative to use artificial intelligence in war, and, soon after, the
    Strategic Defense Initiative -- `Star Wars'. Over the years CPSR evolved
    into a `big tent' organization that addressed a variety of
    areas including workplace issues, privacy, participatory design, freedom
    information, community networks, and many others.

    Now, of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations and
    movements that are concerned not only about the misuses of ICT by
    governments and corporations (and others) but also about trying to develop
    approaches that help communities work together to address issues related
    economic and other inequalities and environmental degradation -- as well
    broader issues such as war and peace.

    CPSR to me provided a vital link to important ideas and to inspirational
    and creative people. These people believed that positive social change was
    possible and that the use of ICT could play a significant role. For
    example, in 1993, CPSR developed a document designed to help shape the
    National Information Infrastructure (NII) program promoted by the
    Clinton/Gore administration to help guide the evolution of networked
    digital communication. Through a variety of conferences, workshops and
    reports, CPSR encouraged conversations about computers and society that
    went beyond hyperbole and conventional wisdom.

    Although in many ways the issues that CPSR helped publicize have changed
    forms they generally still remain. The ethical and other issues
    the computerization of war, for one thing, have not gone away just because
    they're not prominent on the public agenda. CPSR's original focus on the
    use of artificial intelligence in `battle management', etc. and the
    possibility of launch on warning is probably still pertinent. The advent
    ubiquitous and inexpensive drones definitely is.

    Apparently, as many people know, the age of the participatory membership
    organizations is over -- their numbers are certainly way down -- and we in
    CPSR had certainly noticed that trend. I personally suspect that this
    development is not necessarily a good thing. I certainly would welcome
    another membership organization with CPSR's Big Tent orientation.

    On the occasion of CPSR's dissolution we've developed two small projects
    keeping CPSR's spirit alive.

    The first is that it would be a good opportunity to catalog the groups and
    organizations around the world that would be natural allies to CPSR if it
    still existed. We've started this cataloging (see but presumably
    only captured a small fraction of these organizations. Please open an
    account on the Public Sphere Project site and add the information about

    The second is less concrete but probably no less important. To help the
    current and future generation of activists as we envision possible futures
    and interventions, we'd like to put these two related questions forward:
    What applications of ICT are the most important to human development and
    sustainability? And, on the other hand, What are the strongest challenges
    these applications? Please e-mail me your thoughts on this and I will do
    best to compile the thoughts and make them public.

    - - - -

    With this note I also want to announce that CPSR's final Norbert Wiener
    Award for Social and Professional Responsibility winner is Gary Chapman,
    who served as CPSR's first executive director from 1985 to 1992. The award
    recognizes outstanding contributions for social responsibility in
    technology. Named for Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), who, in addition to a
    long and active scientific career that brought the word "cybernetics"
    hence, cyberspace) into the language, was also a leader in assessing the
    social implications of computerization. Writing in Science (1960) Wiener
    reminds us that, ``...even when the individual believes that science
    contributes to the human ends which he has at heart, his belief needs a
    continual scanning and re-evaluation which is only partly possible. For
    individual scientist, even the partial appraisal of the liaison between
    man and the historical process requires an imaginative forward glance at
    history which is difficult, exacting, and only limitedly achievable...We
    must always exert the full strength of our imagination.''

    Gary (who died in 2010), spent nearly three decades working towards peace
    and social justice as it related to information technology. As Marc
    Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) stated,
    Gary ``made many people stop and ask hard questions about technology. Not
    just Is it cool?, but Does it make our lives better, or more just?
    And does it make our world more secure?''

    Gary's technology column, "Digital Nation," was carried in over 200
    newspapers and websites. He taught and lectured all over the world, most
    recently as a guest faculty member at the University of Porto in Porto,
    Portugal. Since his time at CPSR he had been involved in a multitude of
    related projects including the International School for Digital
    Transformation (ISDT) that he and others at the University of Texas
    annually in Porto, Portugal.

    Gary was on the faculty of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
    the University of Texas, Austin. On the local level, he also worked to
    bridge the digital divide, the gulf between those with access to
    and those without. In 1995, for example, he worked on the successful grant
    application that led to the establishment of Austin Free-Net
    (, which installed the first public access Internet
    stations in Austin, and continues today as a national model for bringing
    digital opportunities to low-income and digitally challenged residents.
    in 2010, Gary co-founded Big Gig Austin (, which
    anchored the successful community campaign to bring the Google gigabit
    network to Austin.

    Gary was a principled and untiring advocate for the use of the Internet a
    tool for collaboration and other means to bring people together. Also, as
    former medic with the Army Special Forces, Gary was especially concerned
    about the uses of computing in warfare. In his articles in the CPSR
    Newsletter, he warned that ``Automating our ignorance of how to cope with
    war will produce only more disaster.'' With David Bellin he co-edited
    Computers in Battle: Will They Work?, a book on the implications of
    technology in war, and was involved for many years in a rich collaboration
    with the Pugwash-USPID (Unione Scienziati Per Il Disarmo)-ISODARCO
    (International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts) community
    Italy and elsewhere.

    Gary contributed chapters to several books that I was involved with. Most
    recently, he contributed The Good Life, one of the patterns
    ( in Liberating Voices, a book that I
    wrote (with the help of 85 others). The verbiage from the pattern card
    abridged from the full text reminds us of Gary's humane values, and serves
    as an important challenge for all of us:

    People who hope for a better world feel the need for a shared vision of
    "good life" that is flexible enough for innumerable individual
    circumstances but comprehensive enough to unite people in optimistic,
    deliberate, progressive social change. This shared vision of The Good Life
    should promote and sustain conviviality and solidarity among people, as
    well as feelings of individual effectiveness, self-worth and purpose. A
    shared vision of The Good Life is always adapting; it encompasses
    suffering, loss and conflict as well as pleasures, reverence and common
    goals of improvement. An emergent framework for the modern "good life" is
    based on some form of humanism, particularly pragmatic or civic humanism,
    with room for a spiritual dimension that does not seek domination.
    the environmental crises of the planet require a broad vision of a "good
    life" that can harmonize human aspirations with natural limits. All this
    needs to be an ongoing and open-ended "conversation," best suited to small
    geographic groups that can craft and then live an identity that reflects
    their vision of a "good life."

    Although this will be CPSR's final Weiner award, the work that Gary and
    other activists from CPSR and other organizations helped launch over two
    decades ago is now being carried forward by scores of organizations and
    thousands of activists all over the world, as digital information and
    communication systems have assumed such a central location on the world's

    Several projects including a Festschrift or other book project or event
    related to CPSR and social responsibility have been discussed although no
    firm plans have been made.

    Gary Chapman was patient but persistent in his pursuit of progressive
    and a better life for all. Sadly, Gary left us before he could see his
    vision brought to fruition. He'll be missed but we all must push forward
    with his vision.

    Douglas Schuler <>
  2. Neanderthal

    Neanderthal Guest

    It is NOT "an eulogy".
  3. Guest

    No true eugology is.
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