[unrev-II] RIP: Prof. Michael Dertouzos, 1936-2001 (Director, MIT LCS 1974-2001)

From: John J. Deneen (jjdeneen@netzero.net)
Date: Thu Sep 06 2001 - 10:48:18 PDT

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    Enabling people "to do more by doing less," that is, to accomplish more
    with less work. Bringing abundant computation and communication, as
    pervasive and free as air, naturally into people's lives." - Prof.
    Michael Dertouzos, 1936-2001

    "We made a big mistake 300 years ago when we separated technology and
    humanism," Dertouzos said in an interview in Scientific American. "It's
    time to put the two back together." (View lecture: "Technology and
    Humanity in the 21st Century"
    < http://web.mit.edu/webcast/mitworld/mitw-apc-dertouzos-27mar01-56k.ram

    It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Lab for Computer
    Science Director, Michael Dertouzos. Dertouzos, who had a rare gift for
    putting complicated technology into human terms and making it accessible
    to non-technical audiences, died on August 27 at Massachusetts General
    Hospital. He was 64.
    < http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/2001/dertouzos.html >

    Computer science lost an intellectual cornerstone this week with the
    death of Michael Dertouzos, the distinguished Massachusetts Institute of
    Technology professor who'd led the school's Laboratory for Computer
    Science since 1974. Far more sadly, the world lost a vigorous advocate
    for the planet's underdogs - a tireless humanitarian determined to
    repair what he saw as a growing and dangerous disconnect between people
    and their technology.

    Dertouzos is the author of eight books. His latest, "The Unfinished
    Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do for Us"
    (HarperCollins), published this year, introduced the concept of "human
    centered computing." Computers, he wrote, should serve people, not the
    other way around. Today's machines are overloaded with excessive
    features, inadequately address our needs, and demand too much of our
    attention, he declared.

    "Michael argued eloquently for human-centered computing. He thought
    deeply about how information technology could help everyone, not just
    the technical elite," said Guttag.

    In his final interview, printed in the August 22 issue of the Chronicle
    of Higher Education, Dertouzos spoke about the qualities that he most
    valued in teachers, qualities which were a fundamental part of his own
    approach to his interactions with the MIT community:

    "Don't forget the impact that love has on education," Dertouzos said in
    explaining his skepticism of computer-based distance education. "If you
    are loved by your teacher -- and I mean this in the most innocent and
    Platonic sense -- if your teacher really cares for your well-being --
    and you know that because your teacher will ask about you, will scold
    you for not doing the right thing, and will give you stories about why
    you should do this or do that -- the learning can be unbelievably

    "But our quest goes beyond utilitarian increases in human productivity
    to the broader ways in which information can help people. Whether,
    through the World Wide Web Consortium, we are working on tomorrow's Web,
    or on new computer systems through our Oxygen project, or on machines
    that can speak with you - and engage you graphically, or on the meaning
    of Genome information, we find ourselves in the junction of two
    interrelated challenges: Going after the best, most exciting forefront
    technology; and ensuring that it truly serves human needs."
    < http://www.lcs.mit.edu/about/director.html >

    "To render technology useful, we must blend it with humanity. This
    process will serve us best if, alongside our most promising
    technologies, we bring our full humanity, augmenting our rational powers
    with our feelings, our actions and our faith. We cannot do this by
    reason alone!"
    < http://www.lcs.mit.edu/about/kurzweil.html >

    < http://www.lcs.mit.edu/about/spinoffs.html > including:

       * Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, Incorporated
         < http://www.kr.org >
       * The Ontology Page (TOP) < http://www.kr.org/top >
       * Software Definable Radio < http://www.vanu.com >

    MIT Project Oxygen & Spectrumware Demo of Software-definable Radio from
    LCS 35th Anniversary (22MB)
    < http://www.oxygen.lcs.mit.edu/ >
    < http://www.sds.lcs.mit.edu/SpectrumWare/mpeg/lcs35lo.MPG >

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