1970, p. 612


by Michael S. Cross

This is one in the spate of recent books attempting to project future social and technological developments. Some, like the effort of the Hudson Institute, have been authoritative; others, like this one, are popular in treatment. In a lively conversational tone, the authors attempt to explain the principles upon which civilization has developed, and to speculate on the direction in which it will move. Using as illustration a typical 21st-Century couple. the authors picture an ideal cybernetic society in which want has been banished and work and personal possessions no longer exist: individual gratification is the total concern. This is in many ways an attractive speculation, based here on rationalist-humanist premises, and most liberals could accept the general social outlines of the book. Yet there is something ominous about it. Perhaps the title gives a clue. It immediately conjures up a similar 19th-Century projection. Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. And it has some of the same quality of Utopian conformism, the same idealization of technology which could lead to the destruction of meaningful individualism. Keyes and Fresco's ''Corcen" computer is potentially as enslaving as Bellamy's Industrial Army. Still, this is a well-meant popular essay which may stimulate some thought about the meaning of technology.