• Joshs
    3.9k
    In what way is the view that opposes technology deemed destructive or otherwise detrimental to society dangerous ?RussellA

    Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. Technology creates new options and possibilities. One can use those new options (including weapons) for constructive or destructive ends, but the technology itself is by its nature an application of new ideas , and as such provides us with capabilities , neutral in themselves, not previously available. If one were to label any technology as inherently ‘destructive’ one would be ignoring its neutral basis and treating its potential detrimental use as the only possible use. One could argue that such a one-sided attitude is dangerous to new ideas.
  • Bylaw
    246
    Well, we have always made distinctions between technologies that it's ok to be in wide use - like private people get to have them, perhaps even kids get to have them, that one doesn't need specific skills or liscencing to have them, and so on.

    So, a neo-luddite might see a certain technology that is being widely and think it should be limited in some or more of the ways listed above and others that did occur to me at the moment. They might notice that government regulators are in revolving door relationships with the industry they are supposed to regulate. They might think that more research should be done before the tech is used as widely or even out of the lab at all.

    They also might notice a pattern where this kind of thing is happening with some regularity. Or that it is getting worse.

    So, yes, perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong with a small neutron bomb. But we wouldn't want teenagers to have them. OK, no one is making a mistake about those and I don't think we have small ones yet. But perhaps certain kinds of tech are dangerous because humans are the way they are. That both communist and capitalist countries cannot be trusted to regulate them well, if for differing and pehraps overlapping reasons.

    GIVEN that humans are the way they are, certain technologies are dangerous.

    We can see this with children. Children are not neutral. They are impulsive and ignorant (not in any pejorative sense of the latter term). So, a gun is not a neutral tech on the floor of an apartment with kids.

    Any tech becomes an extension of humans. If humans will have some tendency to do X with tech, then we can call certain tech dangerous. If we can say that about some tech being around children. We can then say that about some tech being around homo sapian adults.

    Some of the problems and potential problems with tech and non-neutral humans is not easy to track and predict like loaded guns on the floor of apartments with kids or teenagers being able to order neutron bombs online, say.

    And we know industry is often happy to take long term risks that they (certainly at the individual human level) are unlikely to be held responsible for. Generally the worst is they get sued.

    So a neo-luddite might think that there is a general problem with the way tech gets introduced. A lack of care, sometimes with very bad consequences..
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    think there are very few neo-luddites who are against all technology and the original ones were not against all technology. Nor would many disagree with the idea that technology can enable humans. So, coming up with an example of when someone might need to reluctantly or not start using new tech doesn't really address the concerns of people who identify as NLs. And I would be on that spectrum.Bylaw

    Nicely put.

    I'm not against technology per say. But it does have a significant shadow side and many negative, often unforeseen consequences and tech should not be seen as the solution to all of human challenges. For instance, people in Australia who are from an Aboriginal background and or who are disadvantaged are asked to conduct much of their lives via websites or call centers to access vital community, health and government services.

    Many disadvantaged people over 50 do not own a computer and cannot use them. Many don't have cell phones. They are unable to access basic services because they can't access the technology which is the gateway to access. In many instances, there are no viable work arounds to this. A presumption of digital literacy and access to technology is arrogant and should be challenged . I do not own a phone or computer myself. I have access to them because they were supplied by my work. I am probably hooked now. It's impossible to conduct a life without them. :angry:
  • Joshs
    3.9k
    Some of the problems and potential problems with tech and non-neutral humans is not easy to track and predict like loaded guns on the floor of apartments with kids or teenagers being able to order neutron bombs online, say.Bylaw

    And , more importantly, whether a tech is ‘dangerous’, and what makes it so, is far from obvious when it comes to the concerns of many neo-luddites. We’re not just taking small neutron bombs here.

    From Wiki:

    In 1990, attempting to reclaim the term 'Luddite' and found a unified movement, Chellis Glendinning published her "Notes towards a Neo-Luddite manifesto". In this paper, Glendinning proposes destroying the following technologies: electromagnetic technologies (this includes communications, computers, appliances, and refrigeration), chemical technologies (this includes synthetic materials and medicine), nuclear technologies (this includes weapons and power as well as cancer treatment, sterilization, and smoke detection), genetic engineering (this includes crops as well as insulin production).

    I think for many neo-Luddites, anything that destabilizes and transforms the long-standing social, economic and moral order is dangerous. Tech serves the role of scapegoat for them.
  • Bylaw
    246
    And , more importantly, whether a tech is ‘dangerous’, and what makes it so, is far from obvious when it comes to the concerns of many neo-luddites. We’re not just taking small neutron bombs here.Joshs
    OK, I think that was a pretty crappy response. I also said

    OK, no one is making a mistake about thoseBylaw
    referring to the neutron bombs. and I also pointed out that they didn't exist. I also mentioned that we are generally dealing with tech less immediately easy to track effects.

    Further, it was part of a response to your argument which was that technology is neutral, not destructive in an of itself. So, I chose extreme examples small neutron bombs and guns on the floor of apartments to counter a categorical argument that we shouldn't view tech as dangerous. For two reasons, one, we already do, non-neoluddites and neoluddites alike, consider some tech dangerous and restrict or even ban it in a variety of ways; two, as part of an argument trying to show that thinking of tech as neutral is midguided because we humans are not neutral. We already, neo-luddites and non-neoluddites, recognize this with some tech GIVEN human nature and sometimes even corporate or governmental nature (non-proliferation treaties I can add as an example for the last).

    So, what do you do. You pull a quote out of its context and respond as if I did not write what I wrote directly after, then left out any response to the argument I made - iow the context and intentions of that example.

    You ignore, conveniently the other example, the one with guns. Where human + neutral tech is not considered a neutral combination by many non-neoluddites.

    And then throw a cherry picked example of a neo-luddite at me.

    Your finale is a generalized ad hom, your psychic claim about what is really going on in neo-luddite minds.

    You'll pardon me if I ignore your posts from here on out and also please pardon me for hoping you never end up on any important regulatory body.
  • Joshs
    3.9k

    You'll pardon me if I ignore your posts from here on out and also please pardon me for hoping you never end up on any important regulatory body or find work as a debating coach or editor.Bylaw

    OK, I think that was a pretty crappy response. I also said

    OK, no one is making a mistake about those
    — Bylaw
    referring to the neutron bombs. and I also pointed out that they didn't exist. I also mentioned that we are generally dealing with less immediately easy to track effects.
    Bylaw

    How easy it is to track an effect is a different issue from whether we agree on the fact that there is such an effect(harm) in the first place. That was my point. Those wary of the potentially harmful effect of a particular technology on society are already predisposed to see a cause-effect relation where others would not. This is not unlike disagreements among scientific approaches as to what constitutes evidence. Neo-Luddites may see all kinds of detrimental cause-effect relations between the use of cell phones and computers ( and e-scooters) and social functioning. I am much more inclined to see there effects of technology as dependent on an enormous range of factors. You say humans are not ‘ neutral’, but neither are they predisposed as a whole in any particular direction. Are guns and children an inherently dangerous mix? It depends on the age of the child and their gun training. It seems to me the greatest concern of neo-luddites isn't immediate physical harm caused by something like a weapon , but the psychological effects of tech. Here I reject the idea of any simplistic shaping effects of our machines on our behavior.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    I didn't read @joshs response as an attack. He is generally testing the assumptions that underpin arguments here and this can seem provocative.

    It seems to me the greatest concern of neo-luddite’s isn't immediate physical harm cause by something like a weapon , but the psychological effects of tech. Here I reject the idea of any simplistic shaping effects of our machines on our behavior.Joshs

    Are there neo-luddite thinkers in philosophy? Or are we talking about a more reactive, folk philosophy/response?
  • Bylaw
    246
    I didn't read joshs response as an attack. He is generally testing the assumptions that underpin arguments here and this can seem provocative.Tom Storm

    I'm often overly cranky. I did not take it as an attack per se, but on one level a very poor response, philosophically/discussion-wise. On another rude. It's as if I didn't write other things which I did write. It took a position and instead of responding to it, plucking one quote out of context as if one is responding to the post. He may be a lovely guy and this was an exception. I just find more and more online that people seem - I stress that word 'seem' - to pick a team, often seeing the possible positions as two. And so the goal is to tear down the other team, not acknowledge nuance or complexity, and not be too concerned with the totality of what some 'on the other team' is actually saying. So, my impatience is built in large part on others. Quite possibly not fair, but I do think it was a disrespectful and facile response on his part:

    If he meant to point out assumptions on my part, he probably shouldn't have made it seem like my argument hinged on neutron bombs, which I had said do not exist and also contrasted with the types of tech that neo-luddites do have issues with. He attacked an assumption I did not make. And it's pretty clear I didn't make it. And he couldn't possibly have missed my reference to guns as an example. Tech that does exist and most people are in favor or restrictions on (I mean even the NRA would, for the most part, think parents who left loaded guns on the floor ought to be punished).

    Provocative would be responding to the argument I made. I might find that frustrating, if he mounted a nice counterargument, one that supported his notion that it's best to think of all tech as neutral. The provocation coming from unique arguments or examples or an innovative angle on the debate.

    I responded to his earlier post with what I thought was a take that was less common at least. I didn't pull out pieces or assume things about his position, as far as I know. I certainly would have looked at that, if he'd mentioned it. I think responding to the tech is neutral argument by saying (to oversimplify) that tech ´+ homo sapian tendencies is not neutral. Or not necessarily at all neutral is a provocative line. I don't think he is wrong - I think I even said that - but that that argument has a misleading narrow focus. Tech in a storage unit is generally neutral. Tech that will be used by homo sapians, or will influence affect them cannot be simply called neutral as a rule. I suppose guns don't kill people, people do has been misused, I think, in similar ways, his argument is just at a more generalized version of that. There are ways that argument makes sense. I think there are ways that it does not.

    I also tried to work on the notion that non-Neo-luddites at a practical level also treat many technologies as not neutral. And also have issues with how widespread something is used, by whom, under what conditions and so on. IOW bridging. This was completely ignored. I experienced it as a rush to a binary position. It's all or nothing. I am sure there are some neo-luddites who are like this. I don't know how powerful they are, but I doubt they are as powerful as industry advocates who want to rush products and solutions to market or use and see regulatory bodies and suggestions of caution as things to be PRed and lobbied and revolving doored out of the way. I am sure there are many people in industry with other more nuanced reactions to regulatory bodies and concerns. That they are on a spectrum of reactions.
  • RussellA
    482
    There are different definitions of neo Luddite. However, the definition given in the OP is: "An individual who opposes the use of technology for ethical, moral or philosophical reasons."

    I am surprised that 36% of those Forum members who responded believe that the world-view of an individual who opposes the use of technology for ethical, moral or philosophical reasons is dangerous.

    I could understand 36% finding the world-view of an individual dangerous if the world-view was based on dogmatism, prejudice or fanaticism.

    But what better reasons are there to have a position on a topic than ethical, moral or philosophical ?

    Simon Fraser's article What is a Neo-Luddite expands on the topic.
  • Joshs
    3.9k
    . I did not take it as an attack per se, but on one level a very poor response, philosophically/discussion-wise. On another rude. It's as if I didn't write other things which I did write. It took a position and instead of responding to it, plucking one quote out of context as if one is responding to the postBylaw

    I quickly slapped together a set of fuzzily articulated thoughts, not being sure how interested I was in actually getting into this topic , and you interpreted it as a deliberate attempt to demean you. One can only be rude if one intends to be rude, and my interest was not in punishing or slighting you. Let people be inarticulate, disorganized or poor readers without personalizing it. It may save you some unnecessary angst in your life.

    And it may also give others an opportunity to sharpen their argument, which I will do now. In my second post, I meant to include guns alongside portable neutron bombs
    to indicate that my concern was with the distinction between the need to control weapons technology and the need expressed in various forms and to various extents by self described neo-Luddites to control all sorts of other technologies , motivated not by the perceived threat of physical harm but the concern over the psycho-social effects that technologies can have.

    This leads me to my depiction of technologies as ‘neutral’ in themselves. I’m not sure why I used that word. My philosophical sympathies lie with postmodern relativistic approaches to culture and science, and the word ‘neutral’ almost never comes up in these discourses. On the contrary, technologies are considered forms of practical interaction , inseparably linked with other forms of practice. Technologies are essentially ideas, ideas are forms of cultural practices , and all practices change culture in specific ways. But in postmodern thinking , there is no overarching normative framework outside of specific social arrangement from which we can say that one set of ideas or technological structures is good or bad. For one thing , since technological knowledge intervenes in and changes social structures, even when it isnt being ‘used’, one cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Instead one can only regulate and clarify the ways we choose to use them, and this invariable involves the development of further technologies to regulate the previous ones. I think the issue comes down to whether and which uses of a technology are inherently ‘bad’, and this may be closely linked to the question which whether there are ideas which are inherently dangerous. The authors I follow suggest that all technologies are both inherently dangerous and inherently beneficial, sometimes at the same time.( I suppose it is in this sense that I called them ‘neutral’). The regulation of thought and technology both should be aimed at the avoidance of monopolization and dominant control of use, and the encouragement of differentiated and democratized proliferation of technologies. This seems to run counter to the desires of certain neo-Luddites who don’t see the accelerated creation of new technology as the antidote to the negative social consequences of current technology , but instead want to eliminate specific domains of techno-social structures.
    Many are included to blame today’s gadgets for everything from obesity , lack of empathy , short attention span and incivility to a decline in sexual activity. But is the relationship directly causal, or is it that by opening up new options and possibilities , technologies make possible brand new challenges athat don’t necessitate throwing out the baby with the bath water?

    For me the only way to protect society against the monopolizing and dominating uses of current technology is to move ever more boldly into new socio-political-technological terrain.
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