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The Mighty Micro: Impact of the Computer Revolution [Paperback]

Christopher Riche Evans
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 1st edition (6 Sep 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575027088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575027084
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 14.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,473,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

"A 20 hour working week and retirement at 50....a front door that opens only for you and a car that anticipates danger on the roads...a "wristwatch" which monitors your heart and blood pressure....and entire library stored in the space occupied by our everyday lives" - Some of the predictions made in this 1979 book about the future of computing.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Attempt at futurology with some successes 15 July 2010
Format:Paperback
This was essentially futurology - written in 1979 so it's the 30th anniversary. Mildly interesting to see how well Evans did.

The book is not very satisfactory, though it's not easy to state quite why. I *think* it's because Evans has no real methodology or approach; he just chucks in a collection of items which don't have any logical coherence.

He gives a history, such as it is, with the usual suspects, including Turing. (I've been told that none of these pioneering engineer types had ever heard of Turing). He has short term 1980-82, middle term 83-90, and long term (-2000) in three chapters.

Remember at the time he wrote, pocket calculators had only just ousted slide rules; and quartz watches were new. Displays were those glowing red things. Liquid crystals weren't invented. Microsoft isn't mentioned - their software in the Apple II (and III) was high tech. Electronic mail existed, but not Internet- though he got keyboard and TV. Evans thought this could be used for voting - as it can, but not for elections.

Evans considered the Soviet Union (ceased 1991) might be unstable. (When 20% of a population have phones, they can't be kept down, he quotes - he doesn't consider they might assist civil war or invasion). He assumed the US had immense wealth; also that US technology was far ahead - after all, they got to the moon!

I was slightly impressed that he predicted emotional attachment to computers though of programmers - a relatively rare breed. He didn't predict chatrooms, but, influenced by Eliza, thought therapy by program might work.

Some of his guesses seem based on other popular books: he thought 'ultra intelligent machines could prolong life to age 1000' - ie things which might measure blood or neoplasms, and even repair them.
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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2.0 out of 5 stars Attempt to assess the future of microchips 15 July 2010
By Rerevisionist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was essentially futurology - written in 1979 so it's the 30th anniversary. Mildly interesting to see how well Evans did.

The book is not very satisfactory, though it's not easy to state quite why. I *think* it's because Evans has no real methodology or approach; he just chucks in a collection of items which don't have any logical coherence.

He gives a history, such as it is, with the usual suspects, including Turing. (I've been told that none of these pioneering engineer types had ever heard of Turing). He has short term 1980-82, middle term 83-90, and long term (-2000) in three chapters.

Remember at the time he wrote, pocket calculators had only just ousted slide rules; and quartz watches were new. Displays were those glowing red things. Liquid crystals weren't invented. Microsoft isn't mentioned - their software in the Apple II (and III) was high tech. Electronic mail existed, but not Internet- though he got keyboard and TV. Evans thought this could be used for voting - as it can, but not for elections.

Evans considered the Soviet Union (ceased 1991) might be unstable. (When 20% of a population have phones, they can't be kept down, he quotes - he doesn't consider they might assist civil war or invasion). He assumed the US had immense wealth; also that US technology was far ahead - after all, they got to the moon!

I was slightly impressed that he predicted emotional attachment to computers though of programmers - a relatively rare breed. He didn't predict chatrooms, but, influenced by Eliza, thought therapy by program might work.

Some of his guesses seem based on other popular books: he thought 'ultra intelligent machines could prolong life to age 1000' - ie things which might measure blood or neoplasms, and even repair them. I just spent about half an hour trying to connect my PC - the idea of Ultra Intelligent Machines can seem a joke.

He thought self-diagnosis by machine would be easy; I suspect he underestimated the cavernous ignorance of most people, He thought legal decisions might be computerisable and, though Chomsky isn't mentioned, 'natural language' is. Of course, he had no way of estimating 'complexity' or 'interconnectedness' - if he, or anyone else, had, they might guess quite accurately whether such things could happen, and guess when.

Evans thought the working week would reduce, further education would go further, to, say, 25, and retirement ages drop. This seems a middle class view unmediated by awareness of jobs which are not easily mechanisable. (Quite apart from oil shortages etc). He thinks the third world needs education - 'affluence has only sprung up when ignorance has been conquered' - though he only seems to come up with tourism and 'exchange of information' to help them. Education, agriculture, economic planning, and 'climate control' should all help the third world.

So - a mixed bag. Not very impressive! Recommended to anyone trying to predict - this book will give you a feel of where you may well go wrong though conscious or unconscious bias - or simple ignorance.
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