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Technology and Society

 
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:10 pm
I found this interesting list on technological adaptation and a subsequent thought test in my notes on Neil Postman's book The End of Education.

Quote:


1. All technological change is a Faustian bargain. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage. (p. 192)

2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others. (p. 192)

3. Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas. Like language itself, a technology predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments and to subordinate others. Every technology has a philosophy, which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards. (p. 192)

4. A new technology usually makes war against an old technology. It competes with it for time, attention, money, prestige, and a "worldview." (p. 192)

5. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything. (p. 192)

6. Because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded, different technologies have different intellectual and emotional biases. (p. 193)

7. Because of the accessibility and speed of their information, different technologies have different political biases. (p. 193)

8. Because of their physical form, different technologies have different sensory biases. (p. 193)

9. Because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different technologies have different social biases. (p. 193)

10. Because of their technical and economic structure, different technologies have different content biases. (p. 193)

All of these principles being deeply, continuously, and historically investigated by students, I would then propose the following final examination, which is in two parts.

Part I: Choose one pre-twentieth century technology - for example, the alphabet, the printing press, the telegraph, the factory - and indicate what were the main intellectual, social, political, and economic advantages of the technology, and why. Then indicate what were the main intellectual, social, political, and economic disadvantages of the technology, and why. (p. 193)

Part II: Indicate, first, what you believe are or will be the main advantages of computer technology, and why; second, indicate what are or will be the main disadvantages of computer technology, and why. (p. 193)

Any student who can pass this examination will, I believe, know something worthwhile. He or she will also have a sense of how the world was made and how it is being remade, and may even have some ideas on how it should be remade. (p. 193)


Note: Part IIb could be added and ask the same questions of the Internet, portable communication devices, video games, etc.

Any thoughts on how technology alters our relationship with our environment?
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Doobah47
 
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Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 01:51 am
@Theaetetus,
Censorship?

Or not, as the case may be.
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:01 am
@Theaetetus,
I think by discussing a limited example of technology, one with which we are certainly familiar, we can begin to answer the larger question.
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sarek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 02:57 pm
@Theaetetus,
Technology as we know can be seen as a layer in an ever developing hierarchy of layers.
In this context the lowest layer may be life itself. The next layer consists of simple and later more complicated brains finally culminating in the human cortex.

Finally man uses his cortex to design tools which add yet another layer. And even here it does not end for these days even the tools of man are beginning to develop simple brains themselves. Who knows what a tool with a 'cortex' may be capable of.

These developments lead to an almost logarithmic acceleration in development rates. Primitive lifeforms develop over hundreds of millions of years. The limbic system has a scale of tens of millions of years. Humanoids reach the million year scale.

Once we started using more complex tools it took us only a hundred thousand years to get here. And so on. Every new step accelerates the rate of change. The industrial age is now less than 200 years old and information technology has transformed our whole world inside a single human lifetime.

Let's face it, we humans in all our arrogance may only be an intermediate stage in the development of a worldwide(or even bigger) information processing system.
Doobah47
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 03:24 pm
@sarek,
sarek;35311 wrote:

Once we started using more complex tools it took us only a hundred thousand years to get here. And so on. Every new step accelerates the rate of change. The industrial age is now less than 200 years old and information technology has transformed our whole world inside a single human lifetime.


Does this pose justification for exponential expansive-capitalist ideology?

Or in fact the direct opposite?

For me, dichotomy is never a way out of political strife/turbulence.
Under protective circumstances - as with economy founded legal stances - one might find systemic abuses in the relationship between state and electorate.

The mind - when involved in societal norm - is so often analogous to the former dichotomy. Of course freedom inverted would manifest syncopated structural differences, yet one (the individual) might prefer the option to 'reject' (re: such pithy codes as social nicotine habits or opiate addictions vis a vis cocaine addiction, almost relevant to sex/consumptive addictions).
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