Nye ch. 11
"Where does human infatuation with technology lead?"
has technology dramatically changed our lives?
in what ways are we infatuated with technology
we pay attention to technology and neglect other things
do we focus on technology more than on other things that change our lives?
when we want to solve a problem do we favor technological solutions? (technological fix)
we tend to focus on technology too much
Where will human enthusiasm for technology lead us?
do you think we are too enthusiastic about technology?
Kurzweil on Colbert
computers smarter than humans--in less than 50 years
computers are already smarter than humans in tasks with clear rules and facts
computers can beat the best humans at chess, and even at the game of Go
we can now program
computers that learn
computers can figure things out for themselves--neural networks
and computers that are at least
but computers don't have intuition,
or do they
some problems are at least in part mathematically solvable--eg. Atlanta traffic
computers are increasingly able to come up with the solutions to complex problems with the best measurable results
for those kind of problems, at some point computers will be able to make better decisions than humans
this is real enough that we need to take it seriously
computers able to design better computers (self-replicating)
use technology to improve humans
would you upload your brain into a robot to live forever?
Kurzweil is an example of someone who is infatuated with technology
sometimes do we hope technology will give us an easy fix for our problems, that might be solved better another way?
consider a spectrum from rejecting technology (eg. Amish) to technology will allow us to do everything (eg. Kurzweil)
where do you fall on that spectrum
Where does Nye fall on that spectrum
how do new technologies catch on
innovators try things first, but their friends don't listen
early adopters/opinion leaders try something new and their friends listen
How do we live well with change?
recognize that the world is always changing
being willing to choose what works for you, not just follow what is around you
build community around what is important to you, use technology to do what you value
can we improve how we choose and use technology to make our lives better?
goes beyond just watch out for the negative side effects of technology
Nye--we don't have to do everything we can do
we can evaluate new technology critically
we can choose the technologies we want
by consumer choice
by seeking the kinds of technological opportunities we want
How does technology make us more creative?
the internet allows many more people to write or compose music or make art and share it with the world
you can find communities around whatever you are excited about
maker movement--we don't have to be passive consumers
Since 2005 another alternative is coming clear: the maker movement and do it yourself
schools no longer teach most students life skills such as cooking, carpentry, or car maintenance
seeks to reclaim making things ourselves
allow us to creatively make objects at home and allow more flexible manufacturing
home 3d printers now can be bought for
less than $400
you can make your own design or download open source designs
you can upload your design to sites like Shapeways for printing
at reasonable cost
in materials you can't afford to work with at home
Etsy, Artfire and other web sites allow people to easily sell things they make
: people who try to adjust their bodies with food choices and supplements
individual creativity, more opportunities for artisans and craftspeople
open source movement: make software and other designs free and modifiable instead of patented and sold for a profit (some people doing this are hobbyists, others
We think technology gives us freedom, wealth..., but does it really?
(We easily see these benefits of technology, but what potential problems should we pay attention to?)
in some ways yes, but there are also limits/problems/side effects
technology gives us some things, allows us to do some things, but there are other things that are important too
we may pay less attention to other things than we should
there are a lot of different things we can do
technology seems like the easiest and most predictable way of improving something
or we could try to improve community, but changes that aren't based on technology are more controversial and it is harder to know whether they will work
we are biased towards technological solutions
are there things that we can do that aren't technological that might be more important
or are there ways to use technology more wisely towards broader goals
What has Nye told us about technology (review)
technology is a fundamental human expression
technology doesn't control us, in fact it isn't even predictable
historians find technologies are shaped by their context, they are not independent of society and do not transform the world from outside
people can use technologies for many ends, and people usually prefer variety
consider next what about the problems technology causes:
does technology make us wealthy, or does is give us more material things but reduce our quality of life in other ways
how is it going to affect other people with different cultures or opportunities
are we going to need to reduce resource consumption or the damage we do to the environment?
can we solve such problems simply by inventing better technologies or will we need to consume less?
does technology take away jobs?--not so far
does technology reduce or increase our freedom?
reduces freedom by making things more the same or by making us dependent on it
increases freedom by allowing us to do more
we have more information, is that always a good thing? does that give us more opportunities for self-expression
What can we do to increase the benefits of technology and decrease the negative effects?
no- we have real choices
How do we make decisions and put those decisions into effect about what technological direction to go in?
since the direction of technology is not inevitable, it is possible and necessary to make decisions
we make those decisions for ourselves by asking good questions (thinking critically about technology)
we start with our values, examine whether a particular technology will serve or act against those values
how do our individual choices have any impact--how do we put them into effect
we can make wise choices of technology for ourselves, as consumers
can we simply trust the marketplace? Nye says no because corporations don't necessarily develop the technologies that would benefit us most
is government control a better alternative? Nye says not with the institutions we have now
he would like to see citizens have more voice in choosing where we want technology to take us
do people know enough to make choices between technologies?
are choices available and visible?
can we understand enough to know what risks we take?
understanding the science and technology--sometimes called technological literacy
having information on the consequences of different choices
having thought about what kind of society we want
do we think the technologies we have grown up with are natural and not question them?
we very quickly take technologies for granted and don't question them
watch out for the human tendency to naturalize things
Will the effect of technology in the future be different from its effect so far?
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke expects that human infatuation with technology will lead to intelligent machines that will replace us (or that we will merge with).
Why the Future Doesn't Need Us
And They All Lived Technologically Ever After
We have many possible futures made possible by technology.
Which one do we want?
This page written and copyright
Pamela E. Mack
last updated 11/25/2019