Download Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile by Rebecca Slayton PDF

By Rebecca Slayton

In a swiftly altering international, we depend upon specialists to evaluate the promise and hazards of latest 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 old files and interviews in addition to views in technological know-how and expertise reviews, she offers an unique account of the way scientists got here to phrases with the exceptional danger of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). She compares how diverse expert groups -- physicists and desktop scientists -- built arguments in regards to the hazards of missile security, and the way those arguments replaced over the years. Slayton indicates that our knowing of technological dangers is formed by way of 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 dangers into transparent view.

In the Fifties, scientists famous that high-speed desktops will be had to take care of the remarkable velocity of ICBMs. however the nation's elite technological know-how advisors had no technique to research the dangers of desktops so used physics to evaluate what they can: radar and missile functionality. purely a long time later, after setting up computing as a technological know-how, have been advisors capable of learn authoritatively the hazards linked to advanced software program -- such a lot particularly, the chance of a catastrophic failure. As we proceed to confront new threats, together with that of cyber assault, Slayton deals worthy perception into how other kinds of workmanship can restrict or extend our capability to deal with novel technological risks.

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Extra info for Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012

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There they found an ally in Paul Nitze, the head of the Policy Planning Staff for Secretary of State Dean Acheson. A Harvard-trained economist, Nitze slowly shifted 28 Chapter 1 from Wall Street to Washington during World War II. S. 55 In early 1950, Nitze helped draft a report for the National Security Council, NSC 68, advocating drastically escalating military spending to counter the threat of Soviet atomic weapons. 56 In October 1952, the National Security Council met with Lincoln Labs physicists, Air Force representatives, Paul Nitze, and others to discuss a continental early warning system.

2). As Benington recalled: . . these people tend to be fastidious—they worry how all the details fit together while still keeping the big picture in mind. I don’t want to sound sexist, but one of our strongest groups had 80 percent women in it; they were doing the right kind of thing. 85 In practice, there were many different kinds of work, and thus many kinds of workers, associated with programming. In a typical mid-1950s division of labor, top-level program designers would first carefully plan a sequence of instructions to be run by the computer.

Scientists and engineers had enough experience with air defense to imagine missile warfare, and they recognized that missile defenses were an unprecedented challenge. In 1959, Jerome Wiesner and other presidential science advisors warned that missile defense was “appallingly complex in concept and in required performance criteria. ”1 Not only did engineers lack experience with such complex defenses, but the future was riddled with uncertainties. What would a Soviet attack look like? What kinds of defensive technology could be developed?

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