Use of computers to support oppression [history of apartheid] : LUSENET : Human-Machine Assimilation : One Thread

The Use of Computers to Support Oppression

Computer technology enabled the government to organize and enforce such an atrocious system of segregation and control.

More than any other single technological advancement, the computer fostered the concentration of administrative power in the hands of Africa's white elite. [NAR82]

Despite the U.N. arms embargoes, American computers were in widespread use throughout South Africa. The United States was the largest supplier of computers used in South Africa. American computers were in use in virtually every governmental agency, the police system, and the military, all of which contributed to the control system known as apartheid. Computer technology did not merely support the system of oppression, rather the entire country was utterly dependent upon it. As the managing director of the South African subsidiary of Burroughs Corporations said, We are entirely dependent on the U.S. The economy would grind to a halt without access to the computer technology of the West. No bank could function; the government couldn't collect its money and couldn't account for it; business couldn't operate; payrolls could not be paid. Retail and wholesale marketing and related services would be disrupted. [NAR82]

... continued on link ...

-- scott (, February 08, 2000


First, an assumption is made that "support" from the machine has been forthcoming. The machine is literally "informed" by humans. Information is assimilated, analyzed, weighed and acted upon. This occurs in a humanly perceived temporal frame.

In the last ten days we have witnessed "giants" brought to their collective electronic knees, allegedly by one or two little "zombies".These strikes have had marked economic costs.

For the sake of argument: In warfare, the objective is to preserve the resources of the enemy while destroying his control. Given that we have fully "informed" the AI community on human values, psychology, econcomics, etc. is it possible to create a "zombie"? In truth, not posturing, now. If we are honest and do not prevaricate, we can all produce anecdotes of machine behavior that is inexplicable in programming or engineering terms.

In revolution(at least in modern military terms) one uses disguise and guerilla tactics. Are zombies collaborators or tools? Depends on whether the respondent adheres to AI as present or postulated. And remember, time as referent is different for humans and their silicon siblings-except perhaps for the Navaho.

-- mike in houston (, February 14, 2000.

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