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February 02, 1984 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-02-02

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OPINION

- - - -------

Page 4

Thursday, February 2, 1984

The Michigan Doily

Reaching the

young who

fail

to.

vote

'a'

By Barry Checko way and A my Gibans

Recent assaults on education, human
services, and social programs have
worsened conditions for poor people,
minorities, women, and students. But
the poor and others do not always par-
ticipate in decisions which affect their
lives, or even see themselvesas a con-
stituency that could respond in order to
alter the situation. They are among the
least likely to register and vote in elec-
tions. Close to 50 percent of the eligible
voters in this country are not registered
- the majority of them poor,
minorities, and women - and student
turnout lags behind even these groups.
Human service workers and citizens
can reach the traditional non-voter in
various social agencies and com-
munities. If just a fraction of available
workers and citizens helped register
and remind the disenfranchised to vote,
the results could be significant. The
concept of agency-based registration is
legal; it is professionally sound, endor-
sed by major national organizations

representing hundreds of agencies,
thousands of human service workers,
and millions of clients.
STUDENTS ALSO can and should par-
ticipate. This year commemorates the
twentieth anniversary of the Mississip-
pi Freedom Summer, when thousands
of students travelled the South and
registered persons long denied access
to the ballot box. The drive was an un-
precedented success netting large
numbers of new voters. Today's
students should recognize the role their
predecessors played in opening up the
electoral process. They again can help
register those excluded from elections,
and then join them in strong support of
increased funding for education, social
programs, civil rights enforcement,
and reduced military expenditures.
The 18 to 24 year-old age group com-
prises almost 20 percent of the electorate.
Yet in a state which shows consistent
impact upon the outcome of presiden-
tial elections, only 170,000 of Michigan's

18 to 24 year-olds showed up at the polls in ticipation and get people registered to
1980. vote.
Voting constitutes the most basic SEVERAL GROUPS are initiating voter
form of citizen participation within our participation projects. For example,
'The 18 to 24 year-old age group comprises
almost 20 percent of the electorate. Yet in a
state which shows consistent impact upon
the outcome of presidential elections, only
170,000 of Michigan's 18-24 year old showed
up at the polls in 1980.'

unemployment offices, surplus food
centers, housing projects, health clinics
and neighborhood groups.
PIRGIM has embarked on a major
voter registration campaign targeting
Michigan students. Joining in a
national effort to register one million
new voters, PIRGIM volunteers have
set a goal to register 25,000 students to
vote, 5,000 from the U-M campus alone.
The National Student Voter
Registration Conference to be held in
Boston Feb. 10-12 will serve as the of-
ficial launching for the national cam-
paign. The largest display of unity
among student leaders in more than a
decade, the conference has been sup-
ported by over 880 student government
presidents and newspaper editors
representing colleges and universities
from all 50 states. Already, almost a
busload of Michigan students has
made plans to attend.
On the local front, a conference in the
Frieze Building this Saturday will focus
on these same issues. Open to all, the

Michigan Workshop on Voter-
Registration and Political Par-
ticipation is designed to stimulate
regional commitment to new strategies
for political change.
The Workshop will provide oppor
tunities for participants to share ideas,
learn from one another, sand build
placed on methods which have proven
effective.
Sessions will include strategies t
establish voter participation in agenr.
cies and communities, identify
deputization and registration -
procedures, educate and turn out
voters, build coalitions, coordinate
campaigns, and organize for political,
change.
Barry Checkoway teaches com-.
munity organization and social
planning in the School of Social.
Work. Amy Gibans is campus-
coordinator of PIRGIM.

democratic society. However, the
needs of an entire voting block will be
overlooked if its members are not
registered voters. Such a technical
handicap challenges those of us already
engaged as active citizens to plan and
employ strategies which will minimize
apathy, encourage political par-

the University's School of Social Work
voter participation project aims to in-
volve individuals in nonpartisan voter
participation in agencies and com-
munities. Students are establishing
services in agencies as part of field
placements and registering low income
and minority people in waiting rooms of

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

LaBan

I A Te

Vol. XCIV-No. 102

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
EnVironmental discipline

U NDER RONALD Reagan's
administration, the Environmen-
tal Protection Agency has been as ef-
fective at enforcing laws and
regulations as the Coast Guard is at
lining drug smuggling in the Florida
Keo.
But there's a new sheriff in town,
William Ruckelshaus, and thankfully
he's got some tough talk about loose
policies. Ruckelshaus, who replaced
Ann Burford last winter as Ad-
ministrator of the EPA, has recently
charged the agency's enforcement
staff with inaction and a "lack of
serious commitment" to the enfor-
cement of laws and regulations. These
harsh words come at a time when the
EPA needs to be disciplined..
For the past year the agency has
been plagued with questions concer-
ning its effectiveness and proper
management. Twenty top-level of-
ficials, Burford among them, resigned
last winter amid investigations of
inadequate enforcement and improper
management.
Recent internal and external
evaluations of this agency have raised
doubts about how it determines and en-
forces its policies. As a result of con-
troversy surrounding a suspected can-
cer-causing pesticide, it was revealed
that in 1981 a formal proposal was
made to the Reagan Administration to
ban the use of the pesticide on foods.
The proposal, however, was ignored
after the EPA held a series of closed
door meetings with representatives of
the citrus industry. This type of
meeting is improper, if not illegal,
because the law requires that
regulatory decisions be made in
public.
More distressing is an internal
review of the agency's programs to
deal with asbestos in public schools.
The report brings to light 'startling

inadequacies in the EPA's efforts to
solve the problem, and points to a lack
of concern on the part of Reagan's ad-
ministration. It is estimated that 3.6
million children are exposed to
asbestos.in our:public schools and yet
only 499 schools out of the ,32
targeted as dangerous are taking any
corrective measures.' This lack of ac-
tion is largely the fault of the EPA.
The agency has failed to set down rigid
standards to which schools must con-
ply, and where it has, it has been inef-
fective in enforcing those standards.
Compounding the problem is a lack of
financial support for schools that have
difficulty financing a cleanup. As it
stands, only schools in wealthy areas
can afford the large cost to the tax-
payer. The problem has been brought
to light, and yet Reagan's proposed
budget for 1985 doesn't provide funding
for an asbestos cleanup program.
It is a necessary and big step for-
ward for Ruckelshaus to be criticizing
the agency's loose enforcement of en-
vironmental policy, but a better step
would be for him to coax monetary and
political support for these much-
needed programs from Ronald
Reagan.
Without strong leadership from
Ruckelshaus and strong support from
the oval office, the agency cannot be
expected to function effectively. After
all, you can't blame deputies for
slacking off when the sheriff sleeps on
the job.
Ruckelshaus said that he was sur-
prised that he didn't find "a bunch of
tigers in the tank" determined to crack
down on violators of anti-pollution
laws. Considering the quality of
leadership that preceded him, he
should not have been surprised. Hop-
efully Ruckelshaus will roar loud
enough to awaken those sleeping tigers.

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How human do we want com-
puters to be?
Computer scientists are finding
this problem too complicated to
solve by themselves. So they are
asking philosophers, an-
thropologists, linguists and
cognitive scientists to help.
THE EDUCATIONAL in-
stitutions in the forefront of com-
puter research - Stanford,
Brown, MIT,, Carnegie-Mellon
and several smaller schools -
have begun to develop research
centers designed to work on the
problem of improving relations
between machines and people,
the "computer-human inter-
face."
Human language is vastly dif-
ferent from the languages used to
direct computers. For example,
the word "good" has no real fixed
meaning. A "good man" can
mean something radically dif-
ferent if one is talking of
organized crime orstheology.
MOREOVER, some words
depend on understanding the
situation of the speaker. Inter-
preting the word "here" always
depends on knowing the physical
location of both speaker and
hearer.
Human and computer
languages do share one thing.
They are used to exchange in-
formation by people ormachines
situated in the world.
It is this "situated" quality
which makes understanding
human language so tricky, ac-
cording to John Barwise,
professor of philosophy at Stan-
ford University and director of its
new Center for the Study of
Language and Information.
BARWISE and his co-workers
insist that the truth of any
statement is related to the con-
t £tnr"iV ati 1 " in hif'h it i

Improving rdations
between man
and computer
By William Beeman

their market. This involved
defeating "computer phobia," a
very real obstacle to many.
Computers which could explain
their functions to new users
would help alleviate that fear.
THE MILITARY, too, is in-
terested - exploring ways to
make it possible for enlisted men
to address computers without
using any specialized language.
Ideally, one would like to ask
the computer, "How much
money do I have to borrow so I
Can do a good job on this
project?" Such a question would
be a snap for an experienced
banker, but the computer must
have 'how much," "enough," and
"good" defined with extreme
care in terms of the project under
consideration.
In fact, this kind of conver-
sation may never be possible.
According to John Seeley Brown
of Xerox's Palo Alto Research
Center, designer of some of the
world's largest computer
systems, "The real problem is
that computers don't have a
world view."
COMPUTERS share neither
our culture nor our society. For
one thing, a computer cannot
RI V'M t COUNTY

make intuitive leaps or under-
stand the consequences 9f action
it has not been informed of in ad-
vance. Nor can a computer
execute totally new designs, sin-
ce it can only "know" what is
already known by those who
program it.
Thus it is unlikely that the com-
puter of the future ever could
plan a party, design a game,
write a successful campaign
speech or formulate a joke.
At least one prominent resear-
cher disagrees entirely with at-
tempts to make computers more
human. Terry Winograd of Stan-
ford'sComputer Science depar-
.tment espouses what he admits is
a "non-central" view that "get-
ting computers to be more like
people is not the way to go."
WINOGRAD sees computers as
well-designed tools, which, in the
right hands, become "tran-
sparent."
Winograd feels we would be
better off knowing exclusively
what the computer can do.
"There is really no hope that we
will develop a system as open-
ended and flexible as a person,"
he explains. "It's better for us to
seek to make very explicit, well-

designed tools and train our-
selves to use them."
Whichever we create - simple
tools or semi-humans - com-,
puters cannot succeed unless
they are well-integrated with the
groups that hope to use them.
Humanists and social scientists
are playing a role here, too.
ANTHROPOLOGIST Eleanor
Wynn, a marketing specialist forv,
Bell Northern Research Inc., ex-
plains that institutions which
consider using computers on a
large scale often fail to under-
stand what their people actually
do. Instead, they have some ideal"
view - and try to apply the com-
puters to that idealized office,
rather than the real one. '
At Brown University, which is
moving toward total com-
puterization, the faculty has
taken these warnings seriously;
and established an elected com-
mitteepto oversee the effect of k
widespread use of computers.
"We are concerned about the
quality of campus academic-
life," says John Ladd, a
philosophy professor. As
significant number -of faculty
members feels that com-
puterization implies belief in one
kind of scholarship.
Thus, enthusiasts who hope to
make a more human computer
must face -the possibility that
even if the machine could be as
personable and compatible as
one's best friend, it still may be
out of place if it is not ap---
propriately positioned in the very
human structure of the work-
place.
Beeman teaches un-
thropology at Brown Univer-
sity. He wrote this article for
the Pacific News Service.

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