At this moment in time two sets of values present in society are in conflict with each other. On the one hand we have a powerful technical value system which tells us to make maximum possible use of technology so that we may become more wealthy and comfortable. On the other hand we have a humanistic value system which tells us to beware of technology for it is a mirage which will lead us to disaster rather than success. Somewhere in between these two value systems is another which says technology is essentially neutral; whether it produces gains or losses depends entirely on the decisions that are taken on how it shall be used. Supporters of this middle position are a group of researchers from seven European countries who are working together in an attempt to influence one form of technology — computers to move in a direction which produces human as well as technical gains. This paper is a report on one aspect of our research. We argue that computers and information technology represent a powerful resource for improvement at all levels of society; but for this improvement to come about, alternative ways of using the technology must be identified and choices made in terms of human psychological needs.
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