Re: Where is technology headed?
Where is technology headed is a very important question that our schools and culture seem to think trivial. In this answer I will not be talking specifically where the future inventions are headed but where the machines are taking us and where we are headed.
All technologies through the ages are always a matter of getting from technology and technology taking away. Technology is able to do many things for us but at the same time it also undoes many things. We have to be careful about studying and analyzing specifically how technologies will change us our values, our culture and the way we live and decide if it is for the better or not. Today we seem to blindly believe all technology is good no matter what. I believe technology can be great as long as we concentrate specifically on why we are going to use it because often the intentions of the inventor are actually the opposite of what the technology does to us in practice.
One example I might give of this is mechanical clock. It was invented by monks for the purpose of regularity in their prayers. Soon they began putting clocks up everywhere. The clock lead to standardized time and product and began to change the way they lived. They began to live according to what the clock said and to when it told them to do things. I would argue that without the clock capitalism wouldn't be possible. The clock helped lead to capitalism which is surely almost opposite to what the monks intended.
The automobile has allowed us to do extraordinary things. Yet at the same time it has completely changed us and our culture. It caused havoc on the traditional family structure. It caused us to tear down all of our forests and put pavement roads running through them. It has caused us to use and abuse our earths fossil fuels at disgusting rates, which is now becoming a major problem at the end of the century in which it was invented, and I need not even mention the incredible environmental damages it has done.
How about the cell phone. When they were invented years ago not many people had them and as with all technologies it takes a couple years for them to catch on. In the begining people say that they will never use that. But soon since our culture does not apply scrutiny they become mainstream. With cell phones now we may be getting closer to 1984. We are all held accountable for having one now and because of that at work we are essentially on the clock twenty four seven. Employers can get in touch with their employee's whenever they want and the cellphone is beggining to do its damage on what is left of the traditional American value based family.
The television again is a great a beautiful technology. I think it is great for the purpose of entertainment. But when we put all of our news, politics, and soon educational burdens on the medium we are finding that it is not so healthy for us. Television has created an incredible demand for everything to be entertaining. It has polarized all of our politics. Know complex and thought out ideas can be expressed convincingly on television because no one has enough time in the thirty seconds they are alloted to speak between commercials and other people speaking. Television is probably the most alarming as it is the command center of our culture. Americans today watch an average of four and half hours of television in one day. That is twelve years of their life. If people think that they can get serious news and discourse from the box they are mistaken. I believe we must rely on the printed word for serious news and discourse because of its biases toward exposition, linear thought, and detail. Those are all qualities we look for in good writing. Yet television's biases are pretty faces, quick summations so that as much money can be made from commercial advertisers, and theatrical acting performances. One is able to cover up weak ideas and policies with charismatic appearance and performance. These are qualities one looks for in good television. That is why I say a again television is great for entertainment, however when we put what is serious on television and turn it into entertainment we might find we have created a population of passive, shallow and immature pods ripe for a society like that in the book of Brave New World (I am not saying that is what the American population is like right now at all only what over generations we could be turned into). I fear that television will soon make is so that we no longer need to read a book or do anything to be a respectable member of society. We simply need to take our soma.
Well anyway just some of my thoughts on technology and the give and take method it forces on us. Any agreements or criticisms on these thoughts?