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The last 20 years have seen the proliferation of a machine that stores, organizes, and retrieves information: the computer. It can perform repetitive tasks without error or fatigue, analyze problems too complex for the human brain, and collate great quantities of information. The power of the computer, however, has its drawbacks—among other things, it allows governments to monitor in detail the activities of citizens, and it takes employment from those who cannot perform other kinds of work.

Ours are the times of a romance with the computer. Computers are continually described as being "powerful," "fast," and "smart"; they "work" for us; they are "friendly" and can "help" us. We sophisticates of the 1980's no longer anthropomorphize the things of nature; instead, we humanize our machines. As a result, computers are accepted uncritically; many consider them an unalloyed good, or at least the "wave of the future." The tremendous amounts of money involved only strengthen this attitude.

In The Silicon Society, David Lyon examines the computer and its effects on us from a Christian perspective. Dr. Lyon is senior lecturer in social analysis at Bradford and Ilkey College, England, and his book is based on the 1985 London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity. Despite my wish to recommend this book, however. The Silicon Society is...

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