• Brett
    434
    Edit: that headline should finish “ ... in exchange for a secure future.”


    In an interview Norman Mailer suggested that technology is the opposite of science, and that either the Devil invited technology here, or God, in his battle against the Devil, entered into a dread compact with technology.

    Whenever I hear or read about the problems we face as a country or planet, so often I hear that the solution lies in technology. The ways that technology has entered our lives is so thorough and pervasive that we no longer realise just how much we have acceded to it and what is human and what isn’t.

    There seems to be a real hope and belief in the redeeming power of technology. The very idea of technology has begun to define who we are, or who we ought to be. The time, if not already at hand, where we may trust the logic of a computer over the porous mind of a human may not be far off. After all don’t we all tend to lean towards the merits of pure logic. Don’t we seek the answers we trust there, isn’t that the legacy of the Enlightenment?

    When we reach the point of making unpalatable decisions, will we throw them at a computer to analyse and then direct us to the most logical, and consequently the right decision?

    It’s becoming more and more common for more and more decisions from the past, made by leaders and scientists, to be condemned as wrong or immoral, as if no one was capable of making the correct decision, as if people cannot put their own self interests aside, and therefore we should not put any faith in the same sort of people who make the decisions today. So who do we get to make these decisions?

    Will we make a pact with technology and in the process compromise who and what we are?
  • I like sushi
    842
    I’d rather live with technology scavenge around in the jungle on my hands and knees eating insects, fruit and punch the occassional mammal in the head between steeling the victories of other animals hunts.

    Yeah, hyperbolic, I know ;) technology is natural.
  • Brett
    434


    Hyperbolic and confusing. It sounds like you’re hiding in the jungle from technology.
  • Brett
    434
    Sorry, part of my headline dropped off.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I agree with I like sushi. Spears, fire, clothing, etc. are technology. You can try living without if you like. I'd rather not go that route.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    The entire history of humanity is technological. We can't survive without some level of it. And we certainly can't continue to support billions without modern tech.
  • Rank Amateur
    1.6k
    A post from yesterday on a different thread.

    IMO the application of science - Technology - is driven by inherently human drives - mostly power and money - but occasionally and to a lesser degree - altruism. Technology, as the application of science, can not escape the human condition with all the good and bad that that entails.
  • Brett
    434
    I don’t think I mentioned anywhere in my op the idea of total rejection of technology.

    What I did mention, as a concern, was the idea of placing more faith in technology than ourselves, and technology influencing who and what we are. The simplest aspect of this would be social media and how its use influences society. A more serious aspect of this would be China’s idea of ‘social credit’, something only possible through advances in technology. I don’t think I need to mention all the examples I could mention out there about the advances of technology into our lives. Artificial Intelligence is developing swiftly and some people are ascribing more and more autonomous traits to it: that it can create, that it can think.

    The more we get used to it the more we rely on it and the more we let it determine aspects of our life. At some point we will cross a line and begin to lose control of how we use it. Maybe we’ve already crossed that line.

    I know that spears and bows and arrows are technology (god, how tiresome it is to have to say that), and I know that making an arrow head enabled us to kill and consume more protein, etc., etc. (Again, so tiresome). But the arrow head didn’t have the ability to change who we are so swiftly and at such a young and impressive age. Nor did we ascribe superior thinking to it.

    So, I go back to my question, will we make a pact with technology in exchange for security?
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    Will we make a pact with technology and in the process compromise who and what we are?Brett

    We are what we choose to be. If technology made by us furthers our goals then it might as well be a part of us. We are making no compromises in who we are because making technology is one of the things we have done since the dawn of human history.
  • Brett
    434


    Then, would you also agree that coal powered energy is furthering our goals, whatever they are ( are we going to define those goals now or make them up as we go) and is ‘no compromise’. What about nuclear weapons or energy?
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    Then, would you also agree that coal powered energy is furthering our goals, whatever they are ( are we going to define those goals now or make them up as we go) and is ‘no compromise’. What about nuclear weapons or energy?Brett

    You can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. Nuclear energy is fine for the most part, it's coal and nukes I'll focus on.

    The end goal I see for most people is satisfying their desires. The desire to live in a warm home or eat good food or have good relationships. We may make compromises in the condition of our planet to reach these goals, but we are not compromising who we are as you say. A great thing about technology is that it can solve problems that short-sighted use of prior technology creates. Missile defense systems solve the problem of nuclear war. More eco-friendly energy sources can replace coal.
  • Brett
    434
    The end goal I see for most people is satisfying their desires.TogetherTurtle

    I might have to separate ‘desire’ from ‘need’ here. We might infer that we desire a warm home or food, but in fact it’s a necessity for survival. We are obviously already confusing ‘desire’ with ‘need’.

    And that’s an important distinction for me, because technology now both creates our desire and feeds it. I know it’s the human hand behind the technology, but the things we are beginning to desire are far removed from who and what we have been, and a long way from what we need.

    This also raises the question, can the problem create the solution?
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    I might have to separate ‘desire’ from ‘need’ here. We might infer that we desire a warm home or food, but in fact it’s a necessity for survival. We are obviously already confusing ‘desire’ with ‘need’.Brett

    A human being doesn't actually need a warm home or good food contrary to popular belief. Our ancestors slept in the cold open and ate very rarely. They still survived.

    I know it’s the human hand behind the technology, but the things we are beginning to desire are far removed from who and what we have been, and a long way from what we need.Brett

    Biologically speaking, there is very little difference between you and your ancestors from 50,000 years ago. They were still comforted by the same sensations you and I are. They still desired to be warm instead of cold, full instead of hungry, and then did something about that. That thing they did is technology. We have always desired to be hedonists, we just never had the infrastructure to build a world for that until recently.

    This also raises the question, can the problem create the solution?Brett

    Technology only becomes a problem when we make it one. The same science is used to make both nuclear weapons and build nuclear power plants. We are the ones that choose to make these things.

    So, what do we "need"? Are you referring to some sort of spiritual meaning? If it's that, I can assure you the chemicals that make us feel that can be replicated, probably soon.
  • Brett
    434


    Okay, let’s just say ‘food and shelter’ is a need, not a desire, forget ‘warm’ or ‘good’. Without it you die. Go and try living like our ancestors, see how long you last?

    They were still comforted by the same sensations you and I are.TogetherTurtle

    Sensations are not part of this discussion. It’s need and desires. My needs aren’t to much different from my ancestors, but my desires are. Our desires change all the time from generation to generation. Often they make no sense, often they cause complications. We confuse need with desire. Technology now serves our desires, maybe even feeds them, maybe, one day even creates them.
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    Okay, let’s just say ‘food and shelter’Brett

    Shelter isn't necessary. Food is. If I had to hunt for food like our ancestors I would die only because I was not raised to have those skills. What you do in your developing years entirely decides how strong or smart you will be later on. That's your already established biology adapting to the environment, not an actual evolutionary change.

    Sensations are not part of this discussion.Brett

    But we desire certain sensations. If you gave a caveman sugar they would love it just as much as we do.

    Our desires change all the time from generation to generation.Brett

    Can I have an example?

    We confuse need with desire. Technology now serves our desires, maybe even feeds them, maybe, one day even creates them.Brett

    We desire to feel good. Technology does this for us. If we can learn enough about our minds and what they want, maybe we can one day make new sensations we desire.
  • Brett
    434
    Our desires change all the time from generation to generation.
    — Brett

    Can I have an example?
    TogetherTurtle

    Yes. My father never desired a mobile phone.
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    Yes. My father never desired a mobile phone.Brett

    I think I understand now. You say that technology has created a want for new materialistic items. Your father couldn't have wanted a mobile phone because he never could have had one.

    My position is that he wanted what the phone gives us. He would have loved to communicate with his family instantly anywhere in the world. He would have enjoyed having any information he needed at the tap of his finger. He may not have wanted the phone specifically, but he would have liked the amenities the phone provided. So would a caveman. We have wanted to know things instantly or save memories or be closer to others since the dawn of time. Technology does that for us.

    Desires do not change over time, how we obtain these desires does.
  • Brett
    434
    You say that technology has created a want for new materialistic items.TogetherTurtle

    Not necessarily materialist items. But you’re right that technology does make the desire material.
    So I have to think about whether technology can create a desire that wasn’t there in the first place and how this relates to my post.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Sorry, part of my headline dropped off.Brett

    You need better technology, apparently.
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    So I have to think about whether technology can create a desire that wasn’t there in the first place.Brett

    Or were they already there? Perhaps sadness is just us lacking our desires. Theoretically someone with every desire they could possibly have fufilled would always be happy.
  • Brett
    434


    Not all of our desires are healthy, nor should all of them be realised. Technology can realise the most powerful, influential and possibly destructive forces we can imagine. The atomic bomb served what desire in who?
  • Brett
    434


    Yes, a more proficient mind.
  • Brett
    434
    Theoretically someone with every desire they could possibly have fufilled would always be happy.TogetherTurtle

    Oh, oh. Alarms!
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    Not all of our desires are healthy, nor should all of them be realised.Brett

    Technology can realise the most powerful, influential and possibly destructive forces we can imagine. The atomic bomb served what desire in who?Brett

    The desire for destruction. We love to destroy as much as we love to create.

    However, we can fufill such a desire in safer less harmful ways. Putting yourself in a simulation where you can destroy things is a good way to reach that.

    I think that it is the way we realize these desires that can be unhealthy. Having them in the first place can’t be unhealthy because that’s just how we come out. It’s like saying having two arms is unhealthy. It’s just the way we are.
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    what do you mean by alarms?
  • Brett
    434
    what do you mean by alarms?TogetherTurtle

    Because I’m not sure if everyone’s desires are good for everyone else. It may also be unrealistic to expect all your desires to be fulfilled and lead to problems down the road for others.

    I think that it is the way we realize these desires that can be unhealthy. Having them in the first place can’t be unhealthy because that’s just how we come out.TogetherTurtle

    I don’t know if I can agree with the idea about all ideas being healthy. Yes in a healthy individual, but otherwise trouble.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Yes. My father never desired a mobile phone.Brett

    Nobody desired any technology BEFORE it existed. Take the first electronic communication technology -- the telegraph. Once some lines were in place, demand took off. Why? Because people had a previously unknown need for a telegraph? No. Demand took off because people had a wish and a need for easy, rapid communication with people who were important to them (father, a broker, a sweetheart, a general, etc. The postal service -- established 60 years earlier, found the same thing. It wasn't very long after the telegraph got going the people started to think, "You know, I should really be sending this message in code -- what if a telegraph clerk steals the information?" More technology, more complexity.

    No president had used a telegraph until Lincoln discovered he needed a way to both shorten and tighten the leash he held on his generals. The telegraph filled the bill. Lincoln learned how to manage his various -- sometimes head-strong and uncooperative -- generals, with advice, threats, and promises--which he carried out.

    Railroads, telephone, cameras, gas lights, kerosene lamps (instead of whale oil lamps), steam ships in place of sailing ships, wireless radio messages -- they all took off because the technology met already existing needs. Atom bombs? Just a bigger rock to throw at the enemy.

    And don't underestimate stone tools, as tiresome as you may find references to them. They made a huge difference in our survival and (probably) our self-image. An arrow, or a spear thrown with an atlatl (spear throwing device) greatly increased a man's individual power. No small thing. Along with the arrow heads, came the technology of adhesives to help fix the arrow head on the shaft of the arrow. The adhesives they used (going back to the neanderthal, probably, was derived from birch bark -- not an obvious source of adhesive. Getting the right stone material to make tools required extensive trade networks. Flint, chert, and obsidian do not occur everywhere, so... you trade for it.

    So stone tools were a big deal and the same big deal that every major invention is.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    going back to the neanderthal,Bitter Crank

    Ah, the Neanderthal. The original white trash.
  • Brett
    434
    However - are we in control of technology?

    Not all technology springs fully formed out of the air. Each invention is developed from some pre -existing technology, like a virus, a meme, evolution. For example an arrow head is the progression of a sharp stick.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    When we reach the point of making unpalatable decisions, will we throw them at a computer to analyse and then direct us to the most logical, and consequently the right decision?Brett

    Logic alone cannot enable a computer to make a societal decision. It needs values programmed into it as well. So, what are the right values?
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