On the Future Computer Era

Modification of the American Character and the Role of the Engineer, or, A Little Caution in the Haste to Number

by Paul Baran

Download

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback14 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

A warning that unintended but disastrous effects on society have resulted from improved and computerized recordkeeping, owing to (1) the habit of limiting the number of variables considered to those easily quantified, (2) the tendency to use records and scores instead of judgment, and (3) the use of information to maximize private profit without regard to the damage inflicted by everybody doing this at once. Using computers, loan and insurance companies screen out the highest-risk groups. Fire or burglary insurance cannot be obtained in areas where business development is most needed. Many people are rendered uninsurable and/or unemployable on the basis of health, education, or past failures or infractions that former generations would have successfully concealed. What future have the 40 percent of all urban youth (90 percent Negro) who will have some brush with the law, when an arrest record bars them forever? Those who understand technology have an obligation to lift their eyes from minimizing subsystem costs and at least be an early warning system for the rest of society.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.