cover image Cult of Information

Cult of Information

Theodore Roszak. Pantheon Books, $17.95 (238pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54622-3

The computer revolution has been overhyped and oversold to the American public, charges the author of The Making of a Counter-Culture, in what may be his best book. Roszak believes that the cybernetic model of the human mind as a thinking machine is fundamentally wrong; ideas have living meanings and produce convictions, something machines will never have. He debunks the information economy touted by futurologists like Toffler and Naisbitt, arguing that the home computer as an ""information center'' is a chimera. The influx of military-industrial funds into artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology research, he charges, has brought to the fore the severe limitations of these disciplines in solving real-world problems. Roszak raps the computer industry for commercial opportunism, especially in the schools, where the computer is an expensive mechanical teacher's aid; he cites evidence that most educational software has little real value. Computer manufacturers envision ``fully networked campuses'' where college students and teachers all have micros and rarely need to meet. Roszak cries foul, noting that it's time to rethink a technology that should not be merely grafted onto our culture. His humanistic counterattack on the cult of computers is devastating. (April 28)