THE ROAD AHEAD by Bill Gates with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (Penguin: 332 pp., $15.95, illustrated, includes CD-ROM). Not surprisingly, Bill Gates envisions a rosy future for the Internet and computer technology. Although these tools have the potential to improve education, communication and the general quality of human life, they also offer opportunities for Orwellian abuses--a risk Gates rarely mentions. Even more disturbing is his attitude that certain technological innovations are on the way and that people will have to adapt to them.
Gates has become very rich as a supplier of high-tech tools, and the future he describes will presumably make him even richer. But he seems to forget that all tools, from chipped flints to microprocessors, exist to serve the needs and desires of humanity: Humans should not be compelled to adopt behaviors that serve machines, however sophisticated.