[Humanist] 28.293 apocalypse in 1971

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Aug 27 07:42:46 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 293.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:56:32 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: apocalypse in 1971

It seems to be the case that discoveries sometimes, for some people, 
cause the heavens to roll back like a scroll and transforming light to 
shine down on them. This seems to have happened in 1971 for Takeshi 
Utsumi, when as General Chairman of the Summer Computer Simulation 
Conference, to be held in Boston MA, he wrote a message to attendees. In 
this message (URL below) he begins by quoting the first verse of the 
Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word..." He then explains the 
origin of the binary numbering system as a product of monotheism, and 
would appear to suggest that the opposition of the West to Communism, 
centre-stage at that time, is involved: 1 God in the West, 0 God in 
communist countries. He then goes on to the distinction between analogue 
and digital systems. The transition he explains by analogy to the 
education of a beginner in cooking, who cuts onions uncertainly and 
burns things. Near the end he expresses the hope that,

> computer simulation will solve the large scale, complex, and
> integrated social problems confronting our world society, and result
> in better living conditions with greater fraternal order. There is
> now great need for solutions to these problems, and computer
> simulation would be the best candidate.

For the whole message see 

The sincerity I have no doubt is genuine. In the case of Jay Forrester and 
others involved with The Club of Rome, great technical expertise was added 
to concern for the world conceived as a system which could be simulated, 
its possible futures demonstrated and worked out. But what happens when 
such sincerity, empowered by a necessarily limited model of us all, gains 
political traction?


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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