From 1935 to 1946 the Rockefeller Foundation funded Vannevar Bush’s development of the mechanical differential analyzer at MIT for a total of $230,500. This device, along with the Hollerith machine, is considered to be one of the forerunners of the desktop computer that we all know and use today. Bush also served as president of the Carnegie Institution from 1939 to 1955, where he helped shift the organization’s focus away from old-style eugenics to population control. In A social history of anthropology in the United States, Thomas Carl Patterson writes that as President, “…Vannevar… ended its support for Davenport’s projects [The Eugenics Records Office]. The eugenics movement was transformed with Rockefeller support as its focus shifted from heredity to population control and to birth-control experiments on an international scale.” As G. Pascal Zachary documents in his book Endless Frontier, Bush gave lip service to the importance of the individual, but he was an advocate of a type of technocracy in which society is ruled “…by the well-to-do and highly educated.” He also saw ”…populism and the widening participation of citizens in the machinery of government as a recipe for decline.” Zachary comments that “Bush’s fear of the ‘blind mass’ was widely shared in his circle of senior scientists and engineers.” Also documented in Endless Frontier, “As the years went on, the prevailing respect for experts emboldened Bush to advocate technocracy even more unabashedly. In the mid 1950s, he made headlines by calling for a “natural aristocracy” that would govern “the climate of opinion” in the country out of which politics and values arise.” Much of what Vannevar Bush set in motion led directly to the explosion of technological advancement that we are witnessing today. While technology itself is neutral, the elites that are directing its development are doing so with specific agendas in mind, and we are not being asked to debate it.
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