By Rebecca Slayton
In a swiftly altering international, we depend upon specialists to evaluate the promise and hazards of recent expertise. yet how do those specialists make experience of a hugely doubtful destiny? In Arguments that Count, Rebecca Slayton bargains an enormous new point of view. Drawing on new historic records and interviews in addition to views in technological know-how and know-how reports, she offers an unique account of ways scientists got here to phrases with the unparalleled hazard of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). She compares how diversified specialist groups -- physicists and laptop scientists -- developed arguments in regards to the hazards of missile safety, and the way those arguments replaced over the years. Slayton indicates that our realizing of technological dangers is formed via disciplinary repertoires -- the codified wisdom and mathematical principles that specialists use to border new demanding situations. And, considerably, a brand new repertoire can carry long-neglected hazards into transparent view.
In the Nineteen Fifties, scientists famous that high-speed desktops will be had to do something about the exceptional velocity of ICBMs. however the nation's elite technological know-how advisors had no solution to learn the dangers of desktops so used physics to evaluate what they can: radar and missile functionality. purely many years later, after setting up computing as a technological know-how, have been advisors in a position to learn authoritatively the dangers linked to advanced software program -- so much particularly, the danger of a catastrophic failure. As we proceed to confront new threats, together with that of cyber assault, Slayton deals invaluable perception into how other kinds of craftsmanship can restrict or extend our means to handle novel technological risks.
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Extra resources for Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012
The Air Force had been focused on upgrading its bomber force, the Strategic Air Command. But in the wake of the first Soviet atomic bomb, Joe I, leaders felt increased public pressures to focus on defenses. And though the Air Force would continue to emphasize deterrence, even this required defenses. 23 By December, General Muir S. 24 As Valley’s group began to study the problem, they quickly concluded that an electronic digital computer was the only machine that could track the aircraft in real time.
The complexity and concurrency of the air defense project made it tough for Forrester to see what was coming. The groups in his division worked to design, develop, and program three computers to integrate air defense technologies into three successive systems: the “Cape Cod System,” the Experimental Sage Subsector (ESS), and the first Operational SAGE Subsector. Each computer and system grew more complex than its predecessor, yet there was no time to complete or test one system before beginning work on the next.
42 Whirlwind’s complex circuitry filled thousands of square feet in the Barta building at MIT and required frequent checking and tests. ” But he might have known better. Although Whirlwind could be programmed to interact with equipment in real time, it could not be programmed in real time. Programming was as tedious for the Whirlwind as it was for any other computer. 45 But at MIT, Forrester’s first priority was to demonstrate the promise of digital computing for air defense, and he succeeded.
Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 by Rebecca Slayton