International -- Readers Report
A Few More Ideas for the 21st Century (int'l edition)
A majority of the ideas in "21 Ideas for the 21st Century" (Cover Story, Aug. 23-30) deal with the advance of computer and communications/information technology. This is a somewhat somber outlook, as the trend seems to be going toward humans becoming slaves to technology, instead of humans becoming its master, using it as needed.
Nobody can doubt that technology is a necessity in the world's present and future state, but it is used for too many operations and applications that are "doable" but not necessary or convenient for the advancement of mankind.
As for using "artificial intelligence" as a substitute for the human brain, this may lead over time to the atrophy of the human brain by under-use. Even if AI could solve most problems for the average I.Q. brain, it will never be a substitute for intuition, an important tool for decision makers in the past (and probably the future, too), nor will it feel pain, sorrow, or joy.
Federico C. von Wachter
I totally disagree with the second idea stated: Nationalism. The Internet and globalization are more of a threat to nationalism than a factor strengthening it because peoples' values and perceptions toward welfare are changing.
Over the Net, information and education might spread across the world so it would be more important to have a good job and be integrated in society than fight for a specific cause. In reaching for this, the people will be more addicted (or forced) to let their languages go in favor of English, the language of the 21st century, and work for the company that gives them the most satisfaction, whether it should be German, Brazilian, American, or Australian.
MunichReturn to top
Paris and London Just Don't Measure Up (int'l edition)
As a Frenchman living and working in Frankfurt, I appreciated "Booming Frankfurt" (Cover Story, Sept 6). However, you failed to highlight the main reasons that make Frankfurt a comparatively more pleasant place to live than London or Paris.
In a nutshell, Frankfurt offers the quality of life of a midsize city in a world-class economic capital. Granted, it is not in the same league as London or Paris for nightlife. Yet you can walk to work in 10 minutes. You can drive across town in 20 minutes. Public transportation is efficient, runs on time, and is never on strike (Paris take heed). Apartment rents do not reach ridiculously high levels (London take notice). In the summer, parties are held on every street corner. On weekends, all the city's church bells ring and contribute to the village-like atmosphere. Pedestrians have entire areas all to themselves. The air you breathe is far cleaner, and the people you meet are far more relaxed.
FrankfurtReturn to top
The Digital Divide Isn't As Deep As We Think (int'l edition)
In "Across America, a `troubling divide"' (American News), you warn of a growing digital divide that threatens to split America into pockets of urban technological haves and rural have-nots. The actual picture isn't as bleak as reported. Hundreds of smaller cable-TV businesses are helping to close this information gap by launching high-speed Net services. The American Cable Assn. represents some 300 smaller cable businesses and includes private as well as municipal companies. Four out of every five of them serve 5,000 or fewer cable customers, mainly in rural towns and villages.
Smaller cable businesses are upholding their end of this deal. The federal government--Congress and the FCC--must follow this lead.
Matthew M. Polka
President, American Cable Assn.
PittsburghReturn to top