Books : reviews

Lewis M. Branscomb.
Confessions of a Technophile.
AIP Press. 1995

Join one of technology’s leading enthusiasts as he explores the “wise and creative” uses of our nation’s science, from the boundless faith in science after the Second World War, into the age of technology, driven by economic and social desires. Accompany Lewis Branscomb—distinguished physicist who once headed the National Bureau of Standards and later was IBM’S Chief Scientist—on one of the most exciting personal and technical adventures of our time.

Branscomb’s principal theme is that the benefits of science do not flow freely out of the laboratory; rather, superior advances come into our lives because people—in industry, universities, and government—anticipate the future and cooperate to achieve desirable ends. “Technology,” says Branscomb, “is an expression of the values of the society that creates and uses it.”

Branscomb takes us on a tour of emerging information technologies—computer software, electronic libraries, video disks, and the information “superhighway”—always exploring the way people are affected. He asks, “How can a democratic society bring the culture and values of science to the wise management of the technologies that shape our lives?”