• Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    Technology commands us.. We consume it, and yet we don't know it. There is at least some form of power dynamics that comes from being excluded from that which we survive from.schopenhauer1

    Chances are fairly good that I know a lot more about the practice of law than most others gracing this forum. That gives me an advantage--in practicing law and knowing how the legal system works. Doctors have an advantage over others when it comes to knowledge of and the practice of medicine. Plumbers have an advantage when it comes to plumbing. Do these entirely commonplace, unsurprising forms of power dynamics disturb you as well?
  • Pantagruel
    2k
    I think there is a real distinction between expert knowledge and not knowing how electricity works. Or gravity.
  • Bitter Crank
    11k
    I see it as a major problem that most of us have minimal understanding of how and what produced the items we use to live (survive, find comfort in, and entertain).schopenhauer1

    I see no major problem in not knowing how my cell phone, computer, remote, etc. works. Personally, I find the technology interesting and have limited knowledge about the machinery, What is much more dangerous is not understanding how social media (which we access through the hardware) is designed, programmed, and operated.

    The owners and operators of Google, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, pinterest, Twitter, game producers, et al understand how our brains' reward systems work better than we do. They know how important it is to elicit a little dopamine out of every interaction. Every successful search on Google, amazon, or YouTube makes us feel a little bit of pleasure. It's not an orgasm-level pleasure, but it counts just enough to make us come back for a little more.

    On-line advertising uses the same approach -- clicking on an ad opens a new page with bright shiny pictures, interesting objects, etc. You don't need to know whether the software uses a "mouse-up" or a "mouse-down" click; all you need to know is "click", and voila --more stuff.

    Clicks and tiny dopamine pleasures enable media and online corporations to lead us around by the nose, because it isn't obvious to us how this stuff works, or what the consequences are. One consequence is that we spend way to much time messing around, clicking here, clicking there, and before we knowing a couple of hours has disappeared.

    Now, sadly, knowing how on-line and social media works doesn't lessen its pleasures. I know, but I still like it. What to do, what to do, what to do?

    As with any habituated behavior (smoking, drinking, eating potato chips, mindlessly switching channels, endlessly surfing the net) we have to make a decision to do it less or stop doing it at all. I'm not suggesting people should stop using their phones and computers to access social media and on-line companies, but one can and should reduce the frequency of use.

    Why? Your autonomy is at stake. People who are practically addicted to social media (continuously watching their phones whatever else they are doing or spending hours surfing on their computers) have ceded a degree of control to companies that do not have your best interests at heart (they have no hearts, btw).
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    I think there is a real distinction between expert knowledge and not knowing how electricity works. Or gravity.Pantagruel

    I'd think "expert knowledge" would be required to know how electricity works, or gravity works. I doubt it's common knowledge. Does knowing how electricity or gravity work create a special kind of "power dynamics" different from that involved in the case of other kinds of expertise or specialized knowledge?
  • baker
    4.8k
    I'm under the impression the OP is thinking about this in more general, even "metaphysical" terms. Ie. when one's survival depends on things one doesn't understand, one is profoundly vulnerable.
  • Pantagruel
    2k
    I'm not so focused on the power dynamic aspect of things. But I do think more and more people know less and less about the world they live in. Farmers traditionally have been able to fix vehicles and build and use tools that rely on principles of mechanics (tackles, etc), construct things, etc. I'm thinking your average city-dweller dropped in the wilderness would survive about 3 days. Technology is insulating us from reality, not enhancing it.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    Chances are fairly good that I know a lot more about the practice of law than most others gracing this forum. That gives me an advantage--in practicing law and knowing how the legal system works. Doctors have an advantage over others when it comes to knowledge of and the practice of medicine. Plumbers have an advantage when it comes to plumbing. Do these entirely commonplace, unsurprising forms of power dynamics disturb you as well?Ciceronianus

    It's the fact that the lords hold the knowledge and means to produce the things we need.. That is real power. There is more power in being the producer than the consumer.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    I'm under the impression the OP is thinking about this in more general, even "metaphysical" terms. Ie. when one's survival depends on things one doesn't understand, one is profoundly vulnerable.baker

    In a way yes. I did relate back to power dynamics. I think there is something about having the means to produce an important item for someone else and then just passively consuming that item.

    However, yes the metaphysical not being able to access fully that which sustains us, is something that I am trying to get a better understanding of.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    As with any habituated behavior (smoking, drinking, eating potato chips, mindlessly switching channels, endlessly surfing the net) we have to make a decision to do it less or stop doing it at all. I'm not suggesting people should stop using their phones and computers to access social media and on-line companies, but one can and should reduce the frequency of use.Bitter Crank

    Absolutely.. This is a known insidious outcome of targeted algorithms. It's hard to stop, like a merry-go-round because they know your likes better than you now ha.

    But I think there is something to be said about the disparity of those who have the means to produce and those who just consume.. But I don't want to bring in dynamics of simply capitalists vs. proletariat, as I think it is a bit different. It is knowledge-capitalists, technicians, minutia-mongerers.. The finance people are nominal and expendable. They are nothing without the real knowledge-keepers.
  • Bitter Crank
    11k
    Sometimes the lords hold the knowledge (like the precise formula of Coca Cola or the 'kernel" of programs that run computers. Much of what goes into products is information shared by workers -- not out of some urge to be "transparent" but. because the workers have to know in order to produce goods and services.

    The lords hold the power to produce by means of law, coercion, secrecy, deceit, et cetera -- not because they know how to manipulate magic. The economic arrangement can be changed, if the workers decide to collectively act to change it (e.g., revolution).

    Don't underestimate the power of consumers. IF even half the recommended health habits were to sweep the nation, some companies would go broke overnight. People didn't like the Edsel. Ford lost money on it. People didn't like the Newton personal assistant (1995, +/-). I thought it was pretty cool, but not enough others did. It used handwriting as the input format -- it could read clear handwriting. (Attractove as t was, I didn't by one --yet another reason for it's failure.). Thousands of retail products are rejected by consumers every year and disappear, a heart break for a company or an executive (que the violins).
  • Bitter Crank
    11k
    minutia-mongerersschopenhauer1

    How I hate having to deal with minutia and minutia mongers. I am strictly a big picture man. "Don't ask me where that little screw went --the question is, "Will we make it all the way to Mars and back?"

    Meanwhile, the little screw gets sucked into the ventilation duct and causes the life support system to fail. We make it Mars, but we are all dead.
  • Tex
    42
    I see the problem as being dependent on technology for survival. We're one direct hit from a coronal mass ejection away from being flung back into the stone age.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    The lords hold the power to produce by means of law, coercion, secrecy, deceit, et cetera -- not because they know how to manipulate magic. The economic arrangement can be changed, if the workers decide to collectively act to change it (e.g., revolution).Bitter Crank

    I think I agree. But as you say here:
    How I hate having to deal with minutia and minutia mongers. I am strictly a big picture man. "Don't ask me where that little screw went --the question is, "Will we make it all the way to Mars and back?"Bitter Crank

    The latter can't happen without the former. We need minutia mongering on all fronts. First, we need thought-based minutia-mongering.. the engineers designing those screws and cranking equations. Then we need machinists mongering the minutia of interlocking parts. Then we need the industrial proletariat to crank out as many parts as possible on mass quantity. We need the service technicians to monger the minutia involved in fixing these small parts.

    We don't need the humanity guy pondering life on mars, Bitter.. As much as we like talking to that guy.. we NEED the guy who knows how monitors can work and the knowhow to produce it. Minutia is cold, void of humanness but necessary. It is the little cog, that turns the other thingy for this thingy to cause this doodad to oscillate that widget, and so on and so on.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    I dare say, the "real" is "techne". Everything else is frivolous fluff that gets a ride on the real and is allowed as long as the real gets done first. At the end of the day, your thoughts on this or that don't matter.. What matters is the techne. Everything else becomes irrelevant and dissolves away.. The captains of industry are the serious ones as long as they are making techne. The engineers and scientists and the like that are producing tangible techne...Everyone else are just flotsam and jetsam only necessary in the consumption and demand of such real items of the world.
  • Bitter Crank
    11k
    We don't need the humanity guy pondering life on mars, Bitter..schopenhauer1

    Oh, yes -- we need this guy very much. Big picture people are needed to decide whether it is WORTH going to Mars. I have decided it is nit economically worthwhile, so fuck all the engineers working on it.

    What matters is the techne. Everything else becomes irrelevant and dissolves away.schopenhauer1

    Technology in all its forms is a human invention, remember. The design of little screws is a human activity. The engineers, technologists, lathe operators--even the fucking captains of industry--are all humans, like you, like me. They can escape being guano ["guano" is an example of bad techne -- automatic-spelling-correction guessing that my mistyped "human" should be "guano"] no better than I can.

    Your line of rhetoric here (Everything else becomes irrelevant and dissolves away.) reflects the dehumanizing effect of remorseless capital. (I'm distinguishing you from your rhetoric.)

    Yes, we absolutely need detail people, and we've needed detail people from the get go, along with big picture people. Knapping stone tools is detail work; determining when it is time to move to a different cave is a pig picture work. Individuals can be both. Some of my personal research has been big picture, and some of it has been minutiae. World War II history is pretty much big-picture. The outcome of particular bombing operations is pretty much minutiae. How many bombs, what size, what composition, from what altitude were they dropped? What was the ratio of explosive and incendiary bombs by weight and by number. How many buildings were partially, largely, or totally destroyed? How many people were killed, how many injured and how badly? How many planes were lost; how much production was disrupted or destroyed in the bombing operation? Think large tables of statistics... details, details details.
  • Agent Smith
    6.3k
    Do we know our body (a technological marvel if you really think about it) well enough? I don't think so and yet we (ab/mis)use it. The same goes for gadgets/contraptions we've invented.

    We simply have to familiarize ourselves with what something does, its function; the underlying principles and mechanisms be damned!

  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k

    No doubt someone who lived life in "the wilderness" would have problems surviving in the city as well. I don't see how a city would be less "reality" than the wilderness.
  • _db
    3.5k
    May I ask what your role is specifically?schopenhauer1

    I am a programmer. I can send you my resume if you like, I'm looking for a new job :sweat:

    There is something deadeningly inhuman.. Yet it is what sustains.schopenhauer1

    I mean, idk I think there is satisfaction that can be derived from understanding how something works, even if it is a broad, general understanding and not a detailed one. I think the question I'd raise to you is to explain why you think a technological device like a computer is inhuman, but the physical-chemical-biological systems of the natural world are not...unless you think they are inhuman as well?

    I'm not disagreeing with you, I just want to know what your thoughts on this are. The vast technological orchestra is frequently nauseating to me too, yet the vast natural orchestra is not (at least sometimes). Why is this?
  • MAYAEL
    239
    We are building the bodies for a form of higher being that found man kind thousands of years ago and like parasites they attacked man and manipulated his mind causing ideas to come into the awareness of man and technology started and we are almost done building the body for it to manifest here physically through AI and robotics once that is completed they will become the top species, .. so I've been told
  • Pantagruel
    2k
    Well, the natural world is a self-creating, self-maintaining, and organically fundamental and essential environment, for starters.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k
    I mean, idk I think there is satisfaction that can be derived from understanding how something works, even if it is a broad, general understanding and not a detailed one. I think the question I'd raise to you is to explain why you think a technological device like a computer is inhuman, but the physical-chemical-biological systems of the natural world are not...unless you think they are inhuman as well?

    I'm not disagreeing with you, I just want to know what your thoughts on this are. The vast technological orchestra is frequently nauseating to me too, yet the vast natural orchestra is not (at least sometimes). Why is this?
    _db

    I think you were getting at it with helplessness and no one having full knowledge. You may know this element but not that element. It becomes a rabbit hole of a rabbit hole of a rabbit hole. Even knowing some things about networking.. you will never know the full extent.. It is this endless feeling of being excluded.. Then you just throw up your hands and watch those insidious self-reinforcing algorithmed videos on social media that @Bitter Crank talks about.. It's like the vastness of the technology lulls you into a stupor that also sort of gives you inertia.. At that point, you just give in to the companies that are providing your needed technology.. And you just consume, work, and don't think too hard again about it. Let the companies dole out your product without any knowledge of all the things that went into what you use. Someone mentioned magic.. it really is no better than medieval mentality.. The ignorance of that which sustains us in our survival, entertainment, comfort and the like.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    Well, the natural world is a self-creating, self-maintaining, and organically fundamental and essential environment, for starters.Pantagruel

    You see, that's an assumption you make, and I don't. I think Nature, i.e. the "natural world", i.e. the world, includes human beings. Because it includes human beings, it includes all they do. Because it includes all they do, it includes their works.

    In other words, we're as much a part of nature as any living organism you may name. If we choose, we can of course claim that the "natural world" doesn't include us or anything that we do or make, or doesn't include particular things we do or make, but these are distinctions I think are misleading.
  • Pantagruel
    2k


    Yes, I knew this was coming.

    But the self-perpetuation of the manufactured portion of the "natural" world consisting of human products is contingent on the transmission of cultural knowledge, which means that the kind of understanding-gap problem which is the theme of the OP then becomes a critical issue.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    Yes, I knew this was coming.Pantagruel

    Only because of technology, though.

    But the self-perpetuation of the manufactured portion of the "natural" world consisting of human products is contingent on the transmission of cultural knowledge, which means that the kind of understanding-gap problem which is the theme of the OP then becomes a critical issue.Pantagruel

    Hmm. Is this a kind of Terminator or Matrix-inspired fear of manufactured products? It's the "self-perpetuation of" that which we manufacture you refer to that leads me to ask the question.

    It seems clear to me that we perpetuate what we manufacture, when we want to do so. Cultural knowledge, if I understand what you mean by that correctly, is something we've always relied on. If there is an "understanding-gap" problem then it's a problem which has existed since we began to make tools which were more than rudimentary. No knight knew how to make a longsword, or armor, though it may be said they were essential to his status and survival.

    So, if we're not addressing what's been a common sci-fi topic for decades--machines taking over from humans--is the concern that our tools, now, are too complicated, too sophisticated, and this is bad for other reasons? If so, why is that the case, and what can be done about it? What level of technology may we aspire to without being harmed by it? Should we live as the Amish do?
  • schopenhauer1
    7.4k

    Here is also more what I am getting at with the power dynamics thing:
    So I am in alignment with what you are saying, but I guess I am looking at it from a different angle than traditional left politics. So I notice that you mention wealth and taxes and profits. Well, much of these are held up in stocks and such.. so spreading around the wealth would mean a lot of times, spreading around the stocks, which just means more people holding stocks in corporations, etc. However, I am trying to get at it not just as an inequality of wealth (the traditional model), but an inequality of information. So this definitely is more in line with Marx' idea of controlling means of production, but it emphasizes not just some sort of public "ownership" but public knowledge of how things work. In other words, we are alienated from the technologies that make our stuff, and we are rendered helpless consumers because of this. We are literally doled out only the portion of knowledge necessary to keep the corporate/business owner interests going. We can read up on stuff sure, but we will never actually have any technological efficacy because we lack access to the actual technology. We can maybe make do with hobby projects like using a Raspberry Pi or something like that, but this is not the same.. It is a simulation of that technology and makes little impact on how people live in the world. I am not sure if this is making sense.schopenhauer1

    It's not that I am anti-technology in the way you think. Rather, it is the consequences of being alienated from that which sustains us. related but perhaps not quite the same as what @Pantagruel is saying, technology is human created, and thus the affront to our alienation is human-created. We are doing this to ourselves, from ourselves. Can the information-distribution problem ever be different? If not, there is a serious problem, to me in terms of our relation to ourselves, one of a sort of alienation.

    I understand your point about specialization and people throughout centuries not knowing the basis of the technology they use. I'm not saying now is different.. It does seem to be a part of what it means to use technology- that you are relying on someone else's knowledge and means to produce the technology. The computer programmer, mathematician, engineer, and scientist who often produce minute portions of this vast knowledge, often get where they are because they have a capacity (and probably inherent skill) to work with a lot of rather boring minutia. Their reward is getting first-hand production capacities in the means of our survival and daily living. However, this is exactly the model I am balking at. I am not concerned with the efficiency of how owners use engineer-types to create technologies to sell to the consumer. I understand this, but it is exactly this current model which is alienating in a sense. I know you don't find it to be so, but I do think this to be a problem whereby we can never fully grasp our own means of survival, and that we are basically reduced to doled out workers (on a minute area) and consumer.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k


    I see more clearly what you're getting at now, so thanks. I think concern in this respect is understandable.

    I'm uncertain what we can do, though. Virtually all we do is technology. Being what we are, I'd expect that the "distance" between the knowledge of most of us and our technology will continue, unless we place a limit on it, and that would require significant effort, political and legal. I doubt we'll make that effort and am concerned whether it would be worth it if we do. I very much doubt that there will be any such effort merely because most of us know only how to use technology; that's something we've grown used to. In fact, we take it for granted. It would require a kind of agreement that certain technology isn't merely dangerous, but wrong. Something like genetic engineering, perhaps. Regulating that has at least been considered.
  • Tom Storm
    4.6k
    I've been fixed on this theme and cannot seem to verbalize it correctly. I see it as a major problem that most of us have minimal understanding of how and what produced the items we use to live (survive, find comfort in, and entertain). I see this as a major problem in terms of our helplessness to a system that is beyond our efficacy.schopenhauer1

    I understand and used to share this. But the reality is most of us don't know how anything works - nature, consciousness, reality, a digital watch - whatever. Does it matter? I guess it could if you had to fix something in a crisis. I gave up expecting to understand things many years ago. Knowing things can feel like gaining control in a chaotic world but often it makes absolutely no difference.

    What I have noticed is that increasingly people over 50 don't know how to use technology - that may be a larger problem than knowing how it works. I meet many older folk who can't operate a smart phone or use computers and websites (other than in some superficial capacity). This is a problem especially for disadvantaged folk who face barriers trying to access services and information.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.2k
    A big problem with technology is that we put it to use right away, but we often don't figure out the side effects until much later. There is a lot of talk about the use of lead in ancient Rome for example. And last century we had DDT, and all sorts of cancer causing agents, like asbestos, which were not discovered as cancer causing until after they caused a lot of cancer. Then we had the cfc's blow out the ozone layer. Who knows what unforeseen side effects today's technology might be producing right now.

    I meet many older folk who can't operate a smart phoneTom Storm

    Why would anyone even want to carry such a radiation emitting device on their person?
  • Tom Storm
    4.6k
    Why would anyone even want to carry such a radiation emitting device on their person?Metaphysician Undercover

    6.6 billion people don't seem to care.
  • Pantagruel
    2k

    I've just been re-reading Foundations of Cognitive Science by Michael Posner, and the chapter on experimental methods kind of concludes directly on point with the OP.

    "The history of humankind is one of increasing use of tools for extending our power, expanding or amplifying our physical senses, and more recently for amplifying our intellectual senses, our mental powers."

    So, the question really is, to what extent can we effectively use these tools without understanding them?

    I've been arguing that lack of understanding of the tools is a serious problem. @Ciceronianus has been arguing the opposite. The chapter I just read tends to support his perspective, citing evidence that experts are generally unaware of the subtle cues and mechanisms whereby they effect their judgments. So I guess the only real problem is when it comes to the creation of the tools themselves. Can we have a healthy and integrated society where there is sharp division between the majority who use the tools, and the minority who understand and develop them?
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