Technology EthicistGary Chapman

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A lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, Chapman founded and directed UT’s 21st Century Project, “which explores ways for citizens to be involved in policymaking involving technology, particularly in the areas of telecommunications, the Internet and digital media.” He is better known, however, as the executive director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, which promotes the responsible and ethical use of computer technology. “He helped many distinguished computer scientists articulate their concerns,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC — the Electronic Privacy Information Center — which was incubated by CPSR. “He made many people stop and ask hard questions about technology. Not just ‘Is it cool?’ but ‘Does it make our lives better, or more just? And does it make our world more secure?’” At a CPSR board meeting in 1988, Chapman banged his fist on the table, Eric Roberts, a Stanford University professor remembers. At that moment, an earthquake struck, “and we all thought, ‘He commands forces greater than we know!’” Chapman died December 14 while on a kayaking trip to Guatemala, of a heart attack. He was 58.

From This is True for 19 December 2010