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1996 note: The signature campaign ended long ago. However, the report remains as bad as ever.


[``SIGNATURES'' is in quotes, because the campaign will be entirely by email.]

email to will be automatically counted as endorsing the petition.

Comments should go to


We, the undersigned computer scientists and engineers, find the report ``Computing the Future: A Broader Agenda for Computer Science and Engineering'' misleading and even harmful as an agenda for future research. We have four objections. First, it defines computer science in terms of a narrow set of applied objectives. Second, it suggests that the tone of computer science is to be set by government agencies, university administrators and industrialists and that computer scientists are just the ``soldiers on the ground''. Third, it pre-emptively surrenders to the bad idea that basic research should not be supported and that all support for science should be based on ``concrete demonstration of benefit to the nation.'' Fourth, it lacks an adequate summary of scientific research goals and the resources needed to achieve them.

We request that the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board withdraw the report for rewriting, especially the preface and Executive Summary. Chapters 2 and 3 also need to be replaced. The revision should discuss computer science in terms of the questions computer scientists are curious about, and should emphasize that the research goals, as in all sciences, are determined primarily by the researchers.

[The Latex source of this document is at and is available by anonymous ftp as pub/jmc/petition/petition.tex. There is also pub/jmc/petition/whysign.tex and pub/jmc/petition/preface.tex. The latter file contains the preface and executive summary of the Report.]

John McCarthy
Sat Apr 13 10:15:41 PDT 1996