Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

Computer Reliability and Public Policy: Limits of Knowledge of Computer-Based Systems*

James H. Fetzera1

a1 Philosophy, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Perhaps no technological innovation has so dominated the second half of the twentieth century as has the introduction of the programmable computer. It is quite difficult if not impossible to imagine how contemporary affairs—in business and science, communications and transportation, governmental and military activities, for example—could be conducted without the use of computing machines, whose principal contribution has been to relieve us of the necessity for certain kinds of mental exertion. The computer revolution has reduced our mental labors by means of these machines, just as the Industrial Revolution reduced our physical labor by means of other machines.


* I am grateful to Tim Colburn, M. M. Lehman, and the editors of this volume for critical comments and valuable suggestions regarding this essay.