There is a benign underworld in American politics. It is not the underworld of cigar-chewing pot-bellied officials who mysteriously run “the machine.” Such men are still around, but their power is waning. They are becoming obsolete though they have not yet learned that fact. The new underworld is made up of innocent and well-intentioned people who work with slide rules and calculating machines and computers which can retain an almost infinite number of bits of information as well as sort, categorize, and reproduce this information at the press of a button. Most of these people are highly educated, many of them are Ph.D.s, and none that I have met have malignant political designs on the American public. They may, however, radically reconstruct the American political system, build a new politics, and even modify revered and venerable American institutions—facts of which they are blissfully innocent. They are technicians and artists; all of them want, desperately, to be scientists.

Eugene Burdick, The 480 , in Jill Lepore, “Politics and the New Machine”