En informationsteknisk atombomb: Lars Kristiansson och mikrodatorn, 1970–1983

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingMasteruppsats


In Sweden, the 1970s saw widespread public concerns about data privacy. The use of computers in the 1970 census sparked debate, and in 1973 Sweden's data privacy law, datalagen, came into force. In 1980, a parliamentary delegation was tasked with investigating further options for political action. In the years around 1980, computers, and how they should be used, was a topic of hot political and public debate.

One particularly influential voice in this debate was professor Lars Kristiansson. He shared his visions of the future in debate articles, radio and television interviews, and books. Moreover, he co-hosted two educational series in Swedish public service television. Kristiansson took it on himself to educate Swedish citizens on the perils of a future, Big Brother-like society.

Kristiansson frequently expressed his concerns in drastic terms. He repeatedly associated computers in general, and microcomputers in particular, with the atomic bomb. In this thesis, I set out to interpret Kristiansson's visions of the future computer society, including his atomic bomb metaphor. His work is placed in a context of contemporary ideas, such as those of the Cold War and the 1960s popular left-wing movements, as well as his own academic and professional background. The atomic bomb metaphor was, in this interpretation, shaped both by Kristiansson's personal experience and by widespread popular ideas of an imminent "intelligence explosion".

Much of Kristiansson's criticism, directed against the computerized society of the future, concerned what he viewed as a conflation of theory and reality. The criticism was originally directed against a naïve positivism, as Kristiansson warned his engineering students against confusing mathematical models with physical reality. This criticism of positivism evolved into a warning against a society shaped by governmental computer models, but the examples, including some illustrations, were largely retained from his teaching materials.
Bidragets översatta titel The atomic bomb as a metaphor for the computer: Lars Kristiansson and the microcomputer, 1970–1983
Tilldelande institution
  • Umeå University
  • Nordlund, Christer, handledare, Extern person
Tilldelningsdatum2018 okt. 2
StatusPublished - 2018 okt. 2

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Historia
  • Teknikhistoria


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