Moths to the Flame - The Seductions of Computer Technology by Gregory Rawlins

February 11, 2017

Moths to the Flame is a perfect mixture of visualizing/learning futuristic computer technologies through a historical view. 

As the author Gregory Rawlins, who is a professor of artificial intelligence engineering at Indiana University, himself says, "For two decades now I've been awaiting a book explaining computers and their social consequences to literate readers without using any unnecessary jargon or pedantry—or math….....I particularly wanted a book that I could buy for my father, who's an accountant of the old school, to explain something of the mysterious world I live in.”

He sets the goal for this book very clear that It’s not for computer geeks -for whom this book may look like a Montessori scribble; rather it is for the old school of people who has no/less knowledge about modern computers– it’s a kind of “computer technologies for dummies” book :)

In this book, the author takes us on a historical tour of the world surrounded with modern technologies, with a lot of humour, yet in a thought-provoking script. The technology area he introduces is not limited only to hi-tech industry, instead, he explains technology from events applied to everyday life, video games, movie animations to space engineering and deep root military innovations.

While analyzing the possible effects of our impetuous haste towards the networked humanity/computer technology on society, the author Gregory upholds a balanced perspective offering other future scenarios besides those of the "gloom and doom" category or the utopian view of computers as the answer to all the world's problems. He also raises serious concerns about our future jobs and our future wars: we can figure out what kind of job to get today if we know where technology is taking us tomorrow.

The book's first four chapters explore the worlds of privacy, virtual reality, publishing and computer networks, while the last four focus on social issues such as warfare, jobs, computer catastrophes, and the future itself. Throughout unusual analogies and historical comparisons - from Egyptian pictograms to the codebreakers of World War II - gives us a context for the computer age, showing how new technologies have always bred intertwined hope and resistance.

I enjoyed this book, at least it taught me the skill of explaining hi-tech stuff/ buzzwords in simple words. But, for some reason the book was not a big hit in the market though, people complaining as the author did not explain the technologies not as deep as the famous technology writers Neil Postman or Roszak, and I completely agree too.

I wouldn’t call it a “Must-read”; but if you want just a simple book about modern technologies, and would like to buzz through in a couple of hours/days, then go get it. It’s an interesting read for anyone with an interest in the future technologies.

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  1. This sounds like an interesting and educational read about technology. I'm not sure it would keep me intrigued though. Great review!

  2. Very interesting, though I'm not that invested in the subject to want to find out more about it, so I doubt I would read it.

  3. This sounds very interesting. My husband is a computer geek and this might give me some insight to what he does lol.

    Megan @ Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest