Excited! Two new books that ponder the role of humans in a technological future—or is that technology in humanity’s future?—arrived yesterday.
Ray Kurzweil, a futurist with 17 honourary doctorates (how does he fit them on his business card?), seems to have invented the concept of technological singularity, so we’ll put him in the “go robots” category, at least until I’ve read him & have a more nuanced grasp of his ideas.
Neil Postman, a media theorist & cultural critic, was recommended to me by a friend as a means of understanding the biases inherent in different technologies. A few pages in, I’m already liking the cultural awareness Postman recommends:
Once a technology is admitted (to our culture), it plays out its hand; it does what it is designed to do. Our task is to understand what that design is—when we admit a new technology to the culture, we must do so with our eyes wide open.
We’ll put Postman in the opposite corner, a damper on our blithe embrace of a mediated environment. At the moment I gravitate towards this side of the octagon, because the pace of technological change has pushed us into new social conventions (Zuckity Zuck Zuck) that were certainly not thoughtfully admitted to our culture, but rather inserted there by commerce.
You can see my toddler is pro-robot,: within 5 minutes of unboxing she’d already torn out the last signature of Technopoly.
Postman’s quote “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see” recently went viral, because it’s being misattributed in Google results. So here’s my contribution to setting that straight.