ArticlesPolicy Problems

The Convergence of Computing and Telecommunications Systems

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Science  18 Mar 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4283, pp. 1166-1170
DOI: 10.1126/science.195.4283.1166


Since we do not know of any completely workable solutions to the problems we have considered, we shall settle for a few general observations:

1) The public availability of socially useful computer communications services is and has been held back by legal battles that are now under way between the potential suppliers.

2) No simple resolution of these issues in the near future seems likely in view of the past conceptual separation of computers and communications doctrines.

3) The current policy is to determine whether the nation shall or shall not have certain computer communications services, by the adversary process. In this process, often only the voices of the loudest adversary suppliers are heard.

4) Although there can be no certainty that better alternatives cannot be devised, we believe that such a possibility assumes a higher probability if the key actors come from the technical community sectors more representative of the future consumers.

5) If we are to have the new services that are possible, we need an approach that makes better use of the technologists' dreams and goals rather than have future prospects excessively bound by lawyers paid to preserve the interests of their clients, irrespective of any secondary consequences.

6) We cannot be sanguine about this possibility, as technological statesmanship is too easily corrupted by the same forces that have placed us in this predicament. Furthermore, even if not corrupted, beneficial cooperation can too readily be regarded as simply collusion.

7) Although we do not have any clear answer, we do know that present approaches are not taking us where we want to go very rapidly and that alternative approaches should at least be considered.