Phil Agre, 1994:
Despite all the hype about faster and better and cheaper and friendlier, it's amazing how little the foundations of computing have changed. From the 1940s to today, the raw material of computation has been something called "data." Data is made of bits. But data isn't just numbers -- it's also a way of thinking about the relationship between the abstract territory inside computers and the concrete territory outside them. Data has meaning -- it represents the world.
We're so accustomed to data that hardly anyone questions it.
But data is obsolete. The problem with data is that it's dead.
Managers everywhere mostly use computers to justify the actions they've already decided on, and dead data can't call them on their games.
Vannevar Bush, 1945:
Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursions may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.
Money for me, databases for you.
It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies. And in the end, isn't that the real truth?
The answer ... is No.
For too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don't know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don't know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they're worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don't have are leaders.
It isn't Congress that must change -- it is us.
It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.