We Have the Technology! Now What?

While there was a short-lived fear that fans of the Simpsons and American Idol might lose their TV shows at the turn of the decade, the recent deal cut between Fox and Time Warner Cable is not the first case of a cable provider paying a network to broadcast its shows. According to the Washington Post, CBS already receives payment from Time Warner Cable and Dish Network, but Fox’s move (a company of News Corporation) has gotten a lot of attention because it is part of News Corp.’s ambitious plans to bring profit back to the media business. God bless’em.

No, I suppose it’s not that simple. I have not heard, however, a valid counter-argument to Murdoch’s repeated claim that providers of news and television shows should be compensated financially for their work. In our rush to grab up as much free music, movies and news as we can, we’ve conveniently forgotten that it takes money, sometimes a good deal of it, to produce education and entertainment media.

The typical rejoinder to Murdoch is that technology has progressed beyond his 20th Century business model, that you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, that future of media is free, etc. Just look at the music industry, they say. Conspicuously absent in such analysis is whether or not technological advancement should be used in this way: to provide free media to everyone everywhere.

Technology progresses faster than the evolution of human values. Atomic weapons, for example, occupied the political main stage even though everyone was well aware that their use could terminate our species and perhaps life as we know it. “Ought” cannot be inferred from “is”. The progress of our technology does say something about our species, but what is more important is how we decide to use the tools we fashion.

We cannot un-invent the atomic bomb, but we can think ethically about its technology. Similarly, we cannot take back the technology that distributes media freely, but it’s time we start thinking ethically about it.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less