Some Reflections

Introduction

As with most endeavors, some sort of “introduction” is necessary to provide perspective & context for what is to transpire.

This can be the easiest and most difficult to do.

Easy in the sense of just reviewing the past.

Difficult in the sense of trying to get across to a variety of diverse audiences what you really mean.

I can only offer the following based on who I am and the experiences I have had.

My goal is to help you better appreciate what I am trying to accomplish.

Very simply, what I am trying to accomplish is to help people better understand Science, Technology and Society [STS] so that they can better manage it in their every day lives.

This is so important today since STS is so pervasive and powerful in our lives on an ever increasing global level. Some may even say on an even universe and beyond level, since space travel has been with us for some time, at least for the few so carefully selected for it.

Since the end of WW II, we have had the means to destroy humanity and our world as we know it.

In the past few decades, we have begun to have the power to create new life in many new forms. Could cloning provide immortality? Would you really want immortality, especially if there is an afterlife, particularly if it would be better?

We also now have the means to even “export” life from the earth to other areas of space.

In addition, we have better means to detect and communicate, if there is other life in outer space. As many have said, in the vastness of outer space, wouldn’t it seem unreasonable that life would have only developed on earth?

Questions as to how to best manage such incredible powers have never been faced by humanity in the past.

How do we go about this now for the overall benefit of all?

There are many ways to approach it and many options can be identified.

I am just one person with my own personal overview of such incredible powers. Certainly I cannot attempt to try to present anything substantial.

However, I may be able to help in the process. How do you best understand and manage such situations, especially based on the past –

“it is difficult to know where you are going, if you do not know where you have been!”

The power of history, the past, can be very useful in such matters.

Perhaps, “my take” on matters related to such incredible powers, expressed in my own personal way and style, may positively influence at least some in their quest for more control of their lives and many critical STS issues, as these dramatically, powerfully and personally impinge on their lifestyles and immediate families.

Certainly, a diversity of “voices” are needed to best communicate to diverse global populations.

Specific examples and topics can be presented to better communicate such complex and involved issues. That is why I have tried to use the examples you see in my research and on this website.

Some may connect with them, others not. But others can join this quest and provide their own examples and topics in their own personal way and style.

In order to try to bring some specifics and substance to such generalizations, I offer a medical example that could apply to many. We all will die, but how?

Modern medicine has incredible STS type powers to influence life.

You are diagnosed with a specific condition that is life threatening. Only you can make the ultimate decision. But you are not trained medically. Do you have to be to make this ultimate decision? Sometimes, other aspects that are not scientific & technical [medical] can be the deciding factors.

What “lifestyle” do you want? What do you want your life to mean ultimately? How will this affect others, especially your family and those you are close too?

These are qualitative / subjective aspects.

Quantitative / objective aspects may be the cost, the pain / suffering, chances of prolonging life, quality of life possible, etc.

Only you can decide. Only you can balance all that is involved with respect to your ultimate decision. It is your life!

Preparing for specific decisions is very difficult, if not impossible, due to the almost infinite possibilities involved.

However, knowing better how STS operates and what it can and cannot do>, can assist in better managing the decision making process.

Preparation for such decisions is a “life long learning experience,” since new information is constantly being provided by STS. How do you accumulate what you need to know and best evaluate it?

An individual, personal, effective and efficient process needs to be developed by each person that is suitable for them in this “life long learning experience.”

Again, only you can decide what is best for you.

I hope what I provide aids you in some way in this process and in these decisions.

I specifically offer the following to help you better understand where I am coming from, “my take on the situation” and where I may overemphasize or underemphasize certain areas.

Past

Briefly, I am third generation of immigrants. My parents and grandparents were thru the Great Depression and WW II. These certainly molded them in very profound ways. They made sure that my generation did not forget what had transpired and the tremendous sacrifices that were made. But they also made possible what we have been able to achieve. With out them, what a difference there would be.

Family was all due to this and the fact that my Father was an orphan. Children were the focus, but under very strict scrutiny for any diversions as to what was expected.

There was much love, but also much was expected and therefore, a proper lifestyle was lived.

Very simply, I owe so much to so many, like all of us do, whether we acknowledge it or not.

I cannot name and categorize these people for obvious reasons – leaving some out, giving too much or too little credit, etc.

Therefore, if you know of me, then you had an influence. I acknowledge it and try to appreciate it as much as I can.

My life and career has been very different than might have been expected based on the above, my education, experiences, positions, etc. I have included a great deal of my personal background information so that you can form your own judgments about “my take” on STS.

This has given me a unique perspective on STS, as was pointed out to me in one of the National Science Foundation STS training course that I was selected for.

Present

Now that I am officially retired and have more time to pursue my interests in STS, I have been able to start accumulating a great deal of more information for specific presentations that can be given and even starting this “information transferal” web site.

In the 1980’s when we first got into our own personal computers, I came across a book with the title – “Vanlove’s Theory – Information is a Weapon.” On the cover, it had a caveman with a club and a computer with this phrase on it. I believe it may have been a book from Apple computers. It discussed computers in general and not this theory. I have not been able to find any more information on this theory. However, it certainly is very appropriate – information can certainly be a weapon! The movie “Working Girl” showed this dramatically in the business world.

So the transferal of information is what my web site is all about. Nothing fancy, dramatic, new, etc., just what information is out there that relates to my interests in STS research. Pictures are kept to a bare minimum, since there are so many very good pictures on so many very good web sites. Most information is in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The site is designed so that you can go to the download section and download just what you are interested in and not have to go thru a lot of material that is not of interest to you.

Hopefully, my 2008 Trenton Computer Festival paper [a download on this web site] and oral presentation will be the start of publicizing some of my decades long STS research.

Depending on what interest is shown, further publicizing can take the form of papers posted on the internet, along with traditional articles and books. Certainly, self publishing, especially for specific, small “niche” markets, is much more realistic than in the past, due to the computer era.

A number of PowerPoint presentations have been prepared on a wide variety of diverse topics [lists are noted on this web site.]. Many more such presentations are in various states of preparation.

Naturally, in the era of colored slide presentations, numerous such presentations were prepared in that time period. Depending on interest, these are being converted to PowerPoint presentations.

Future

I do not know! It all depends on how this is all received.

Is it useful, helpful, productive, etc., or just a lot more words added to the fray?

I need your constructive feedback any way you feel most comfortable with.

Thanks!

Frank