RIP Joseph Weizenbaum

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at
Fri Mar 7 20:25:29 CET 2008

Was always good to read his latest 'angry thoughts', and I'm sure many  
people in the Free Software scene in Germany will miss him.

MIT The Tech, April 1985:

I think the computer has from the beginning been a fundamentally  
conservative force. It has made possible the saving of institutions  
pretty much as they were, which otherwise might have had to be  
changed. For example, banking. Superficially, it looks as if banking  
has been revolutionized by the computer. But only very superficially.  
Consider that, say 20, 25 years ago, the banks were faced with the  
fact that the population was growing at a very rapid rate, many more  
checks would be written than before, and so on. Their response was to  
bring in the computer. By the way, I helped design the first computer  
banking system in the United States, for the Bank of America 25 years  
Now if it had not been for the computer, if the computer had not been  
invented, what would the banks have had to do? They might have had to  
decentralize, or they might have had to regionalize in some way. In  
other words, it might have been necessary to introduce a social  
invention, as opposed to the technical invention.
What the coming of the computer did, "just in time," was to make it  
unnecessary to create social inventions, to change the system in any  
way. So in that sense, the computer has acted as fundamentally a  
conservative force, a force which kept power or even solidified power  
where is already existed.


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