Library Juice 5:17 - May 2, 2002
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NETFUTURE Technology and Human Responsibility ========================================================================== Issue #131 A Publication of The Nature Institute April 30, 2002 ========================================================================== Editor: Stephen L. Talbott (firstname.lastname@example.org) On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/ You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes. Can we take responsibility for technology, or must we sleepwalk in submission to its inevitabilities? NetFuture is a voice for responsibility. It depends on the generosity of those who support its goals. To make a contribution: http://www.netfuture.org/support.html. CONTENTS: --------- Quotes and Provocations Life as an Emergency How Doing Faster Means Doing Less Is AI Unfairly Maligned? DEPARTMENTS Correspondence Technology Is Not Dematerializing (Dave Crane) Moral Responsibility and Inanimate Objects (Gintas Jazbutis) Worry, and Rejoice (But Are You Worrying Enough?) (Jeff Falzone) Who Would Charlie Chaplin Have Been Before Film? (Hugo M. Castellano) Technology Re-defines Our Choices (Richard Anas Coburn) Technology Creates Choices (Valdemar M. Setzer) About this newsletter ========================================================================== QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS Life as an Emergency -------------------- You might be interested in "The Numbing of the American Mind" in *Harper's Magazine* (April, 2002). This excerpt will give you a taste of the piece, which is written by Thomas de Zengotita: Being numb isn't antithetical to being totally stressed, 24-7 -- and asking for more. Over-scheduled busyness might seem like the opposite of numbness, but it is just the active aspect of living in a flood of fabricated surfaces. Consider the guiding metaphor again. The (absence of) sensation that is physical numbness is constituted by a multitude of thrills and tingles at a frequency beyond which you feel nothing. The numbness of busyness works on the same principle, but it relies upon its agents to abide by an agreement they must keep secret, even from themselves. The agreement is this: we will so conduct ourselves that everything becomes an emergency. Under that agreement, stress is how reality feels. People addicted to busyness, people who don't just use their cell phones in public but display in every nuance of cell-phone deportment their sense of throbbing connectedness to Something Important -- these people would suffocate like fish on a dock if they were cut off from the Flow of Events they have conspired with their fellows to create. To these plugged-in players, the rest of us look like zombies, coasting on fumes. For them, the feeling of being busy is the feeling of being alive. Partly, it's a function of speed, like in those stress dramas that television provides to keep us virtually busy, even in our downtime. The bloody body wheeled into the ER, every personjack on the team yelling numbers from monitors, screaming for meds and equipment, especially for those heart-shocker pads -- that's the paradigm scene. All the others derive from it: hostage-negotiator scenes, staffers pulling all-nighters in the West Wing, detectives sweeping out of the precinct, donning jackets, adjusting holsters, snapping wisecracks. Sheer speed and Lives on the Line. That's the recipe for feeling real. The irony is that *after* we have worked really hard on something urgent for a long time, we do escape numbness for a while -- stepping out of the building, noticing the breeze, the cracks in the sidewalk, the stillness of things in the shop window. During those accidental and transitional moments, we actually get the feeling of the real we were so frantically pursuing when we were busy. But we soon get restless. We can't take the input reduction. Our psychic metabolism craves more. You should also note Michael Pollan's article, "Power Steer", in the *New York Times Magazine* (March 31, 2002). Both wonderfully readable and wonderfully revealing, it tells the (very short) life story of a steer raised for beef. In the *Times'* words: "To learn how the meat industry works, the author bought himself a calf, then watched him become a fat- marbled monster". How Doing Faster Means Doing Less --------------------------------- In re-reading Richard Weaver's *The Ethics of Rhetoric* recently, I came upon this 1859 remark from an oration by U.S. vice-president John C. Breckinridge: Future generations will not be disturbed with questions concerning the center of population or of territory, since the steamboat, the railroad and the telegraph have made communication almost instantaneous. The steamboat as an almost instantaneous mode of transport? This got me to thinking about our successive celebrations of our victory over time and space, and how each achievement raises the bar for the next one. We have had the telephone, automobile, radio, airplane, television. More recently -- just several years ago -- the Internet provoked a widespread sense of near-instantaneity. But now, of course, the two-minute wait for that download from Oslo or Delhi vexes us mightily. And so our quest for the instantaneous continues unabated, whether to download streaming video, or conduct remote surgery, or communicate in "real time" across cultures through voice recognition, machine translation, and voice synthesis. I guess it's part of my nature to ask, "Well, what if we could realize our ambitions to the fullest? What if we were magically given *perfect* instantaneity? Where would this leave us?" The answer appears to be: it would leave us in a world without change. When everything happens all at once, there can be no process to observe or participate in, no development, no hope, anticipation, or satisfaction of attainment. Everything just *is* in that single, universal moment. This, of course, is a fanciful and impossible thought. But the effort to think it can at least alert us to a risk in the drive to overcome the temporal constraints of our lives. I suspect we must always find ourselves working to overcome these constraints in one way or another. But it's also true that the content of our lives comes to us by grace of our experience in time; remove this experience and you no longer have a life. You no longer have any of the good things you treasure in your memory. So, taken alone without some counterbalancing movement, the struggle to surmount the limitations of time is destructive. We lose our lives. Look at the logic of globalization, as it leads to the leveling of cultures. When we can be almost anywhere and almost everywhere, almost at once, the *process* of moving from here to there becomes less and less significant. I am not forced to adapt, which would take time; I needn't familiarize myself with another people, another language, another way of life, discovering its riches and challenges. Nor must I suffer any sense of change or loss upon leaving the culture. (What have I gained that I could now lose?) As more and more of us engage in this speeded-up lifestyle, little energy or resolve remains for nurturing a culture's distinctiveness in its own time and place -- or even for *noticing* its distinctiveness? At the same time, I may now have vastly more opportunities to encounter other cultures, so far as they survive. You can see here, I think, that there is an easy exchange to be made: much wider experience in place of deeper experience. Many more choices, with the difference between choices tending to become vacuous. I say "easy exchange" but, crucially, not "unavoidable exchange". Even in the age of globalization I *can* attend to another person or culture fully as much as I ever could in the past. And I *can* work to deepen the roots of my own culture, in my own place and time, fully as much as in the past. Granted, the easy exchange is the one that happens almost automatically, as I merely coast along, but nothing *requires* me to coast in this way. Like all machinery, the machinery that overcomes time and distance invites us to coast. It will move us pain-free from one place or culture to another, while mechanizing all the processes of adaptation, from currency exchange to verbal communication via machine translation. I believe this kind of thing is unavoidable today. We have no choice but to use these capabilities in some situations. In fact, I think we need to embrace them. But the way to embrace them -- the way to make them a positive achievement -- is (as I am endlessly repeating) to resist the coasting. Refuse the easy exchange. Draw out of ourselves the depth of communication that the machine is continually obscuring -- and in this sense work *against* the machine. And once we muster these resources from within ourselves, thereby becoming rather different people, we will doubtless find ourselves employing technology very differently from the way we do now. Coming back, then, to our push toward the instantaneous: we will always know, for example, that a faster ambulance response time might save yet another life tomorrow. The value of this saved life is easy to recognize. What's not so easy to recognize is the cost to millions of lives of the conviction that every symptom demands instantaneous relief. The cost is great. We are, very substantially, our symptoms, so the attempt to erase every symptom instantaneously, as soon as it arrives, is an attempt to erase the experience and the meaning of our lives. We deny ourselves the opportunity to do the work that our own lives present us with, and to gain the transforming benefits of this work. The psychiatric cost alone of this self-evasion must be immense. How can we help wanting to do things faster and more effectively? How can we help wanting to get through pain as quickly as possible? But, even as we assent to this imperative, as we must, we need to counter it with a resolve to sink ourselves more deeply into the meaning of the present moment, intensifying its significance rather than obliterating it in a frantic resolve to get past it. From where else but such profoundly fathomed moments can we derive any true sense of accomplishment? We can legitimately try to hurry some things up, but we will always encounter limits. These limits are the instruments for our interior liberation. Both the acceptance of limits and the continual transcendence of limits are human necessities. The problem occurs when our attempt to transcend limits works back into the present moment as a restless, unsatisfied state of mind, subverting our ability to embrace this moment in a positive, unhurried way. So you see the necessary balance. And if you want to know how well we're doing with the technologies for "conquering space and time", just look at how well we are holding this balance. All questions about our relationship to technology -- and, in fact, all questions about human life -- finally resolve themselves, one way or another, into questions of balance. Technological optimists and pessimists are necessarily arguing over whether there is a healthy balance or a gross imbalance in our society. Is AI Unfairly Maligned? ------------------------ The longstanding cliche about artificial intelligence is that the discipline suffers an unfair disregard of its many achievements, such as machine speech recognition, language translation, and decision-support software. A recent repetition of the cliche comes from the *Economist*: Ironically, in some ways, AI was a victim of its own success. Whenever an apparently mundane problem was solved, such as building a system that could land an aircraft unattended, or read handwritten postcodes to speed mail sorting, the problem was deemed not to have been AI in the first place. "If it works, it can't be AI," as Dr. [David] Leake characterises it. The effect of repeatedly moving the goal posts in this way was that AI came to refer to blue-sky research that was still years away from commercialization. (March 16, 2002) But the insult has been self-inflicted. From the beginning it was AI researchers themselves who saddled the field with blue-sky ambitions, starting with the most revered pioneers such as Alan Turing and Herbert Simon. Simon famously predicted in 1965 that "machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work that a man can do". And already in 1958 he had said, "there are now in the world machines that think, that learn and that create". The failure here is not one of degree. It's a fundamental category mistake that has yet to be fully owned up to, and the disrespect that AI researchers complain of is simply the public's refusal, at some intuitive level, to share in the mistake. When aircraft landing software is spun out of the laboratories and into commercial aircraft, or when mail sorting software is brought into post offices, it quickly becomes evident to those who employ this software that it has little if anything to do with the misconceived goal still enunciated all too clearly in the phrase, "artificial intelligence". The users are exactly right when they say, "This is wonderful programming, but it's not AI". I have pointed out before that computers do not even add 2 plus 2, if by this is meant anything remotely like what a living intelligence does. The computer neither intends to add the numbers nor attends to the process of doing so. It derives no satisfaction from success, strengthens no conscious capacities through their exercise, and, more generally, has no experience of what it is doing. The only intelligence we know of is inseparable from such multi-faceted conscious performance. If AI researchers want more respect, they should formulate an accurate description of their own work. For example, in one part of the discipline the formulation might run something like this: "We create prosthetic devices to aid thinking -- especially the mechanical aspects of thinking". This would situate AI within a long and respectable tradition that leads from the abacus and alphabet to the printing press, slide rule, and digital calculator. The dangers in technology today often arise when we mistakenly take our devices to be doing what we do. It is then natural to let them substitute for our doing, at which point we lose all those vital aspects of the activity that are absent from the machine. When spreadsheet software has calculated all the current financial parameters of a successful firm, will the directors, managers, and employees remember that they are still responsible to determine what purposes all these economic resources are harnessed to? Or will the calculations leading to the bottom line, now so easy and automatic, become ends in themselves? Instead of taking our devices to be doing what we do, we should take them as one expression -- a very limited expression -- of our own doing. How we compensate for these limitations by bringing our own being fully to bear upon the programmed activity is always decisive. When AI researchers get this right, there will be no end of respect for their truly marvelous achievements. SLT ========================================================================== CORRESPONDENCE Technology Is Not Dematerializing --------------------------------- Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Dave Crane
Dear Steve, Thanks for another very good edition of NetFuture. One of Kevin Kelly's remarks struck me as interesting -- perhaps not central to your debate, but a point worth raising nonetheless. Today technology suggests software, genetic engineering, virtual realities, bandwidth, surveillance agents, and artificial intelligence. You wouldn't hurt your toe if you dropped any of this. If we stand in the middle of a park, holding a wireless-connected PDA device and read our emails, we might assume that technology is dematerialising. What used to take up a large part of the desk now fits into our pockets. We can conveniently ignore the network of masts, the shed full of server machines etc. that are also a vital part of our action, because we can't see them. Dropping the server on your toe, or the signaling hardware mounted on the network infrastructure, would damn well hurt! I illustrated this with wireless technologies, but the phenomenon isn't new. We discount what we don't see. Our society can therefore tolerate many activities that we as individuals might not -- sweatshops, child labour, gaping divides in wealth distribution, etc. etc. -- but that's another issue, I guess. Technology is not becoming less material. World consumption of resources and energy is going up, not down. Rather, technology is becoming more distributed, so that it appears to be smaller if we forget that the world stretches beyond what we can directly see. Dave Crane Bristol Moral Responsibility and Inanimate Objects ------------------------------------------ Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Gintas Jazbutis Steve wrote: Value always has to be assessed in terms of *what someone is doing*. I've been reading *Nation of Cowards*, which is about gun control and liberty. Interestingly, he makes similar points as you are making: the gun controllers assign some ability to guns to make us do evil, and the 2nd Amendment defenders assign some ability to guns to do good ("saving lives"). One of the author's major points is that guns are neither good nor evil; it is the people wielding the tools who are good/evil, and use the tools accordingly. But he points out also that *both sides* who are arguing are making the same mistake. Neither side assigns moral responsibility to humans, focusing instead on inanimate objects. None of this would surprise you in the least, I am sure. But it's another view of where we're at. Gintas Jazbutis Enterprise Solution Center Bellevue, WA 425-452-5838 Worry, and Rejoice (But Are You Worrying Enough?) ------------------------------------------------- Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Jeff Falzone Hi there Steve, What a wonderful issue of NetFuture. I hope you continue to post your ongoing discussion with Kevin. Because I'm not able, at this time, to keep up with the rush of content which your conversation is producing (the arguments, examples, counterexamples, etc.,) I am trying to focus more on the qualitative environment from which each of you is speaking and in which this conversation is developing. Kevin thinks you worry too much. He keeps wanting/trying to distinguish himself from you by pointing out the fact that he spends more time celebrating the choices that technology offers while you spend more time fretting about the disintegration of our souls. Perhaps this is true to some extent, but it seems obvious to me that you each are simply attending to different aspects of the technology question; you are looking at different things and describing what you see. It just so happens that what he is looking at is awe-inspiring and what you are looking at is terrifying. Before I continue it would probably be wise for me to make clear right now -- I am extremely impressed by the depth and breadth of Kevin's observations, and I'd want him on any cultural research committee that exists; in his writing he comes across as compassionate, intelligent and extremely enthusiastic about participating in our beautiful world. I say all this because I feel that most of my email will come across sickeningly one-sided and maybe even condescending. No way, Kevin is the man. But I feel like Kevin is not seeing what you are seeing (if I'm seeing what you are seeing correctly) and therefore he gets kind of perplexed and even, perhaps, annoyed at what "seems" like worrying on your part. It's almost as if you both are watching a child watch TV; you, Steve, are paying attention to the way the child's eyes are dilated, the trance-like slack of his face, the lack of movement in his limbs, the fact that for the last hour his eyes have been interacting with a hostile environment, they haven't shifted focus (except during commercials), he seems to be getting tired and a bit anxious, and you are thinking about what you know of brain development, tv's effect on our will, you begin to wonder how often he watches tv, the facts of climbing national averages pop into your mind and you worry about how this might be a picture of unrecognized challenges that this child is dealing with, and you wonder if this is an accurate example of humanity's fixation with all those things which offer us so many choices. You worry about this because you see it becoming more and more the norm with no sign of lessening. Kevin walks in the room, takes the remote control and turns to the Discovery Channel. Just kidding. From the tenor of Kevin's dialog with you he would, no doubt, hope that the child is not watching too much TV just like you. But I imagine he would also be inspired by all the choices that the child has, he would enjoy hearing the child talk about what excites him about tv and what kinds of things he learns from tv. It's not that Kevin would desire that the child watches tv, but it seems that he would be less sensitive to what that watching is actually doing and to how that watching is actually a picture of a more subtle and insidious "watching" that we are doing culturally, thanks to a science which so far is not making the clean distinction you strive for in this conversation. This is not a very strong example because it is easy to imagine that Kevin is not a TV guy at all, but I hope my point squeaks through: while Kevin marvels at the increasing number of choices technology offers us, Steve observes a transformation taking place on all levels as we are engaged BY our technology. I believe that Kevin would "worry" just as much as you if he forced his attention to dwell and remain steadily fixed on this shift that is happening. Perhaps Kevin would argue that he sees this shift and doesn't think it's that big a deal, or that he doesn't see it at all, or that he isn't worried because technology will help us get through it .... But I have a feeling that he does not spend time looking at the same things you do. Not that I think that makes you a better or smarter person. I just think that there are very few thinkers who are grappling with our cultural dilemmas who, like you, keep their attention submerged in the subtle/insidious undercurrents of technology's other side while striving to not avoid or deny technology's significance. Most of my friends, who, by the way, are huge social activists, take on Kevin's tone with me the moment I begin trying to express my concerns with technology. They are brilliant people with huge hearts and they continually try to point out to me the choices that Technology brings and how it is our job to be responsible with these choices. All things I agree with wholeheartedly. Just as I feel you agree with each general point that Kevin makes. But Kevin and my friends don't seem to watch and examine the details which have your attention. He might see them, the details, and respect their significance, but he thinks that you are taking the a part for the whole. I don't think you are. In one of his responses to you Kevin spoke of the future, saying that we would eventually see the errors of our one-sidedness and then make the necessary corrections. This mind-set is an example, to me, of the subtle influence of technological thinking. As I see it, the more we are seduced or at least "unworried", the less and less capable we become of seeing the errors of our ways and making the necessary connections. I look forward to reading your continued conversation with Kevin, and I hope that perhaps you two can establish just what it is that is the object of your attentions.... warmly, Jeff Who Would Charlie Chaplin Have Been Before Film? ------------------------------------------------ Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Hugo M. Castellano Dear Steve, I would like to comment on Kevin Kelly's reflection about the geniuses lost to mankind if born outside the "technological possibilities that they would have excelled in". Well, I can imagine Charlie Chaplin 500 years ago: in all probability he was an actor at The Globe, or perhaps Shakespeare himself. Having no film at hand, feather and ink would have proved an efficient technology to transmit his feelings and ideas to the world. Similarly, you could say that Bach was Mozart without the piano, and that Ravel was Boulez without the synthesizer. And certainly the lack of modern "cheap oil-paint technology" never prevented Caravaggio -- who was as rebellious as Van Gogh, maybe more -- and a myriad of poor or rejected painters from becoming true geniuses. Every epoch has its own technology, and people are as constrained today by what they don't have as they were 2500 years ago. We might as well regret the brilliant works of art our contemporaries will never give birth to for not having the technology of the 22nd century, just as we feel sorry for what the Greeks did not do for not having the cinema, or the computer, or even something as simple as plain paper. There will always be people capable of excelling in the arts or the sciences regardless of the particular technology of their time, or, more precisely, *in spite* of the past and future technologies they will never come to use; what I doubt is that humans are born with an ingrained definition of what technology is best suited for their genius. I feel Kevin's argument is so typical of the technocratic mind, a sort of "you ain't seen nothing yet!" which in my profession -- teaching -- has had terrible effects, insofar as we are constantly pursuing "the future" ("the school of the future, the future labor-market, the citizens of tomorrow...") and never come to grips with the only time that matters: today. But after all, today, for the technocrats, is only the time when you think of what's to come. Finally, I would like to point out a curious fact in Kevin's contribution. When he says How can technology make a person better? Only in this way: by providing them with chances. A chance to excel at the unique mixture of talents they were born with, a chance to encounter new ideas and new minds, a chance to be different than their parents, a chance to create something their own.... I found the paragraph has an altogether different meaning if you use the word "education" in place of "technology". Of course, I can imagine Kevin's explanation: "education *is* a technology", but wouldn't that be a form of "simplistic reductionism"? Technology is a part of Education but by no means the whole of it, and if we frame it in Kevin's own line of thinking the purpose of Education is not to write or dance about a reality, not to experiment with it or prove a scientific point, and quite certainly not to create new "virtual and synthetic realities", but to better what exists now, i.e. to help develop a continuing, *true* reality. Even if we stick to Kevin's own definition -- as exposed in his last paragraph -- that is not a job for technologists. Admitting that there are things beyond the scope of technology can be difficult for people like Kevin, I guess; no wonder he doesn't use the word "education" in a phrase that so openly begs for it. As an educator I have nothing to celebrate when technocrats so openly presume of being the saviours of mankind and keepers of the truth. What Kevin says is true: when he rejoices over his "divine work", we worry. Warm regards from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and keep up the good work! Hugo M. Castellano (Webmaster) Nueva Alejandria (Buenos Aires, Argentina) El Portal de los Educadores (http://www.nalejandria.com/) Director de Contexto Educativo Revista Digital de Educación y Nuevas Tecnologías http://contexto-educativo.com.ar Technology Re-defines Our Choices --------------------------------- Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Richard Anas Coburn Steve contends the technological mind substitutes making for understanding. Kevin responds that technologists seek truth by making new tools. To me the issue is the way in which the technological society shapes our notion of what understanding or truth is, and the danger is that all means of evaluation become technical. When Walmart moves to town, the mom and pop stores go under. Period. It's the efficiency that Walmart delivers in terms of price that the people value. The market has spoken. But that's the point; it was the market that spoke, not human beings in their fullness. Its not nice to say, perhaps, but I'd suggest that the human values of the people have already been corroded enough that they don't even see what they're giving up. And the corrosion itself is a technical artifact. As Ellul points out, in the technological society, man himself is reduced to the sum of his technical functions. Anything else doesn't "matter". Kevin isn't worried about bit-mindedness because people can flip from that point of view to another with ease. But the universe of points-of-view has itself been shaped technically. I wonder if Kevin's example of his ability to see the chicken as Trickster is a case-in-point. To what degree does Kevin's seeing of chicken as Trickster shape his life compared with the vision of chicken as Trickster in the life of a Native American? I submit that reading about it in a book, or even taking a workshop conducted by an authentic shaman just doesn't yield the same vision of chicken. It is not that we are giving up all the other views of the world for technology's; our understanding of what these other views are has been transformed by the technical. Steve calls for continually bringing reality to bear upon the technical simplifications as a corrective. There is the question of *whose* reality, even before we get to the really immense technical issue which is, given a reality, how do we bring it to bear without reducing it to technical inputs accepted by the technological system. Lately, while the technologists in the applied sciences have been busy coming up with new wonders, our Postmodern brethren in the "humanities" have been using various philosophical and anthropological techniques to deconstruct our notions of quality and meaning ... that is, demonstrating the extent to which our very notion of reality is a socially constructed artifact. While I am certainly uneasy at the number of and influence wielded by what I'd call fanatical technicians, I too am amazed and thrilled by technical accomplishment. In my own tradition, we say the road must be traveled with two sandals: one of fear, one of hope. To me Steve represents one, Kevin the other. Both are necessary .... But it kinda seems like our society in general isn't sufficiently cautious, doesn't make enough use of the fear. And when that gets sufficiently out of balance, why then someone from another culture takes a big piece of flying technology and runs it into a big piece of architectural technique. Too bad what happened next was not a deep soul-searching meditation on the danger of technical hubris, but a further demonstration of it. Anas Anas Coburn, Executive Director (703) 385-9383 Dar al Islam --- Education for Muslims and non-Muslims to improve the social fabric of America www.daralislam.org www.islamamerica.org Technology Creates Choices -------------------------- Response to: "What Are Technology's Gifts?" (NF #130) From: Valdemar M. Setzer Dear Steve, Regarding your interesting discussion with Kevin Kelly, I would like to call your attention to my essay "The mission of technology", available at my web site (http://www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer). There, I don't define "technology", but establish what I think is its most important "raison d'ętre": to free humans from natural forces, both external and internal. In this sense, it is close to Kevin's characterization for the existence of technology: to give humans the possibility of making choices. All the best, Val ========================================================================== ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER NetFuture, a freely distributed newsletter dealing with technology and human responsibility, is published by The Nature Institute, 169 Route 21C, Ghent NY 12075 (tel: 518-672-0116; web: http://www.natureinstitute.org). Postings occur roughly every three or four weeks. The editor is Steve Talbott, author of *The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst* (http://www.oreilly.com/~stevet/index.html). Copyright 2002 by The Nature Institute. You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes. You may also redistribute individual articles in their entirety, provided the NetFuture url and this paragraph are attached. NetFuture is supported by freely given reader contributions, and could not survive without them. For details and special offers, see http://www.netfuture.org/support.html . Current and past issues of NetFuture are available on the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/ To subscribe to NetFuture send the message, "subscribe netfuture yourfirstname yourlastname", to email@example.com . No subject line is needed. To unsubscribe, send the message, "signoff netfuture". Send comments or material for publication to Steve Talbott (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have problems subscribing or unsubscribing, send mail to: email@example.com .
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