Evolution of Technology (TEC 154 2014S) : Readings

Readings on Patents and IP


Bush, Vannevar (1945). "As We May Think". Atlantic Monthly.


What implications could the memex have on academics and what are the potential drawbacks of such a technology?

What technologies have been developed since Bush's time that have drawn inspiration from the memex concept and his vision of the future?

To what extent do you agree with Bush's bold statement, "For years inventions have extended man's physical powers rather than the powers of his mind?" Can you think of inventions which have indeed extended man's mind?

What does Bush mean when he says, "They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience?"

What did the author mean at the end of the article when he suggested to "terminate the process?"

Was the author's main claim that technology is helping structure the way society thinks about technologies?

Dr. Vannever Bush discusses the saturation of research and need for specialized fields to continue using knowledge to best inform and improve the public understanding of technology. In his examples of photography and a typewriter he uses smaller instances to indicate something revolutionary is in the near future, would Dr. Bush consider this "progress"?

In addition, other then the androcentrism of "his" science, how does the articles publication date (1945) mirror political or social rules? So, can one see in his writing how his regard toward information technology is influenced by his time/place?

Bush talks a lot about recording information, and how it will become more streamlined, yet that it will remain physical. On page 3, he mentions photography, and how photographers will walk with "walnuts" next to their heads and finger-activated shutters. Why does Bush think that the light, shutter, and glass will remain, but other parts of the camera will be eliminated? Can a camera become fully integrated into our bodies?

On page 8, Bush talks about the limitations of logic, and how creativity in conjunction with machines is needed fro progress in our society. Is it desirable for creativity to be programmed into machines to speed up processes, and is that even theoretically possible?

What is the target audience of the article?

What is the author saying at the bottom of page 7 regarding Abacus and calculators?

On the first page Bush describes the lasting benefits of science and research, saying they have increased control of the material environment, improved food, improved clothing, improved shelter, increase lifespan, and a number of other things. But are these still the goals of science and research today? How much more must we improve these mentioned living conditions? Surely, parts of the world still need these benefits, but what about developed/wealthy nations? Should the goals of science and research now undertake different goals for a society that already has such a good standard of living in these terms?

On page 5 Bush discusses the importance of compressing material in relation to costs and ability to distribute information on a large scale very cheaply. Does compression of material lead to greater risk of loss of information or perhaps distribution of inaccurate information? Are there other risks associated with technologies that compress vast amounts of information into single entities?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of technologies that increase man’s control of his material environment vs. technologies that increase man’s control of intellectual property according to Bush?

Why couldn't modern technologies like cars have succeeded during ancient times? (p. 3)

Dr. Vannevar Bush discusses technology and science. However, he refers to almost every scientist as a "he", not a "she". Is he trying to make an extreme claim about gender roles in science fields? Or is he just being careless?

Dr. Bush claims at the end of his essay that ,"the applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthy therein." Is Dr. Bush asserting that the machinery and technological developments are the main reason for scientific research in the modern era? Is he somewhat putting down the skill of the scientists themselves?

Copyright (c) 2014 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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