Against Technology

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Kevin Kelly lays out some “core” arguments against technology in a effort to understand them. It’s a start. And the subject should continue to be interesting.

Has he articulated them clearly so that others can engage? I’m not sure. Take argument number 3:

Contrary to Technology Itself. Technology proceeds so fast it is going to self-destruct. It is no longer regulated by nature, or humans, and cannot control itself. Self-replicating technologies such as robotics, nanotech, genetic engineering are self-accelerating at such a rate that they can veer off in unexpected, unmanageable directions at any moment. The Fermi Paradox suggests that none, or very few civilizations, escape the self-destroying capacity of technology.

A lot of this reads like science fiction or Shelleyesque rather than historical analysis or as factual. Do we have examples of this “veering off” issue? Do we have anything beyond inductive generalization? The button, for example, is a medieval invention, but such an example is not really considered “technology” in the above sense. Or shoe laces.

“Against technology” arguments, even wen they are fairly posited, suffer from definitional questions. What specific kinds of technology, for example, are considered dangerous or unnatural in the frame of Romanticism?


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