What Technology Wants

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Înaintea filmărilor The Matrix, regizorii au cerut actorilor – chiar înainte de a deschide scenariul – să citească trei cărți. Dacă ai în vedere implicațiile filosofice ale unui film cu mult înainte timpului său (și nu mă gândesc aici la tehnologia efectelor speciale), ideea nu pare deloc deplasată.

Lista cuprinde (dincolo de celebra lucrare a lui Jean Baudrillard şi o introducere în psihologia evoluţionistă) o carte de Kevin Kelly situată la intersecţia dintre ştiinţă, tehnologie şi filosofie şi care m-a făcut curios despre acest autor pe care unii îl încadrează într-un curent numit techno-utopianism.

Aflasem prima dată de Kevin Kelly urmărindu-i conferinţele TED, dar nu aveam să prevăd, căutându-i cărţile, că urma să descopăr unele dintre cele mai bune lecturi din ultimă perioadă (şi am avut destul timp liber!).

Ultima lui carte – What Technology Wants – este cel mai bun ghid pe care l-am găsit până acum pentru înţelegerea multor probleme actuale: cum afectează tehnologia natura umană, care sunt implicaţiile morale şi sociale ale internetului, despre viitorul maşinilor şi al oraşelor, despre comunităţile Amishsingularitate şi roboţi.

Câteva citate:

Writing in 1950, sociologist David Riesman observed: “The more advanced the technology, on the whole, the more possible it is for a considerable number of human beings to imagine being somebody else.” We expand technology to find out who we are and who we can be.
If you are a photographer, or an extreme sports athlete, or a baker, or an auto mechanic, or a nurse—then your potential has been given an opportunity by the work of others. You are being expanded as others expand themselves.
Our children’s ability to create a disaster (or create a masterpiece) may even exceed our own.

How can technology make a person better? Only in this way: by providing each person with chances. A chance to excel at the unique mixture of talents he or she was born with, a chance to encounter new ideas and new minds, a chance to be different from his or her parents, a chance to create something his or her own.
Enlarging the scope of creativity for others, then, is an obligation. We enlarge others by enlarging the possibilities of the technium—by developing more technology and more convivial expressions of it.

But can you imagine how poor our world would be if Bach had been born 1,000 years before the Flemish invented the technology of the harpsichord? Or if Mozart had preceded the technologies of piano and symphony? How vacant our collective imaginations would be if Vincent van Gogh had arrived 5,000 years before we invented cheap oil paint? What kind of modern world would we have if Edison, Greene, and Dickson had not developed cinematic technology before Hitchcock or Charlie Chaplin grew up?

We thus have a moral obligation to increase the best of technology. When we enlarge the variety and reach of technology, we increase options not just for ourselves and not just for others living but for all those to come as the technium ratchets up complexity and beauty over generations.

“Progress is not some noxious by-product of the terminally optimistic, but simply part of our reality.”

We don’t find happiness in more gadgets and experiences. We do find happiness in having some control of our time and work, a chance for real leisure, in the escape from the uncertainties of war, poverty, and corruption, and in a chance to pursue individual freedoms— all of which come with increased affluence.

Over time our laws, mores, and ethics have slowly expanded the sphere of human empathy. If the golden rule of morality and ethics is to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” then we are constantly expanding our notion of “others.” This is evidence for moral progress.

Every week, a million people move from the countryside into cities, a journey that is less in space than in time.

In a similar spirit of choice, if you believe that the peak of existence was reached in Neolithic times, you can camp out in a clearing in the Amazon. If you think the golden age was in the 1890s, you can find a farm among the Amish. We have lots of opportunity to revisit the past, but few people really want to live there.
Yet almost everything that we think of when we say “culture” arose within cities. (The terms city and civilization share the same root.)

The haves (the early adopters) overpay for crummy early editions of technology that barely work. They purchase flaky first versions of new goods that finance cheaper and better versions for the have-laters, who will get things that work for dirt cheap not long afterward. In essence, the haves fund the evolution of technology for the have-laters. Isn’t that how it should be, that the rich fund the development of cheap technology for the poor?

About 10,000 years ago, humans passed a tipping point where our ability to modify the biosphere exceeded the planet’s ability to modify us. That threshold was the beginning of the technium. We are at a second tipping point where the technium’s ability to alter us exceeds our ability to alter the technium.

Planetary-scale problems will require some kind of planetary-scale mind.

Telephones were inevitable, but the iPhone wasn’t. We accept the biological analog: Human adolescence is inevitable, but delinquency is not.

“There is more good than evil in the world—but not by much.” (Reb Zalman)

The things in life we love most—including life itself—are infinite games.

Am fost entuziasmat de această carte, dincolo de idei şi trimiteri, şi pentru că mi-a situat alte lecturi într-un context mai larg:
Thomas Friedman: The World Is Flat 
Sherry Turkle: Alone Together
Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody

Dacă vrei să-i răsfoieşti articolele lui Kevin Kelly, găseşti aici o listă.

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5 thoughts on “What Technology Wants

  1. Florin Grozea

    Se simte încărcătura filosofică și religioasă în trilogia Matrix, sunt trei filme pline de simboluri. O capodoperă nu doar a efectelor speciale (cum se spune de cele mai multe ori) ci a culturii contemporane în general.

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