Environment: Trafficking by Computer

The computer, which is supposed to solve all problems, has now been handed the problem of traffic control in downtown Washington, D.C.

The experiment, covering half a square mile near the White House, was devised by the Sperry Rand Corp. under a $4.1 million contract with the Federal Highway Administration. Electronic sensors, embedded in the streets, monitor the flow of vehicles above them. Telephone wires carry the information to a central computer that is programmed to analyze these data immediately, and to send back the appropriate commands to street lights.

Similar but less sophisticated systems are at work in a number of...

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