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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old March 10 2013, 07:08 AM   #1
Halogen
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I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

One of the core themes in Star Trek, especially TNG, is technology freeing the entire spectrum of humanity into a life of limitless freedom, creativity, and discovery. There is also the implied message that technological progress will lead to this utopian inevitability. (with the odd episode about a rogue society that abandons technology in favor of agrarian life)

Yet it is my belief that technology in the last decade has taken a dark turn. I want to know if fellow Trek Fans share this belief.

In particular, it seems that technology is harnessed to increase individual wealth at the expense of the masses for those who have the resources and ability to create and control technology. Whether deliberately and systematically introducing automation to reduce costs and displace workers, or building multilevel digital marketing campaigns that mislead consumers, or creating a risky computational model of financial markets that collapses and leaves investors in ruins.

So, are we moving towards Roddenberry's tech vision of the future, or away?*

-Halogen


P.s. Yes, I know what a Luddite is. Saying that new technology won't displace workers because in all of history technology has never displaced workers, is like saying man-made global warming is impossible because it has never happened before.
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Old March 10 2013, 02:33 PM   #2
YellowSubmarine
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

We've been going downhill since the invention of the wheel. It displaced bearers, it created market uncertainty by introducing more significant and riskier trade, and merchants harnessed it to increase their individual wealth at the expense of the common folk. We've been rolling down that hill since.
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Old March 10 2013, 11:07 PM   #3
RAMA
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Technology isn't dark, it's how it's used.

Yellowsubmarine...you dont really understand technology, in most cases there are small paradigm shifts, older technologies are displaced by newer ones, then so are workers, in turn the newer technologies tend to create more and better jobs for workers. This pattern has continued into basically well, right now...though I see things changing a bit. There are hints of unemployment rates now that are because of automation, on the other hand "abundance" derived from application of exponential technologies may eventually free us from the normal drudgery of having to work in the commonly accepted way.

Technology still has the potential to be mis-used, but instead of painting a dark picture, I see one where there is equal chance if not slightly better of overcoming problems.

Gene Roddenberry's idea of an advanced future may well come to exist (in fact it's more likely than ever), it's just not going to happen as he thought it would, ie: minus genetic/biotech engineering and automated machines and AI. Aliens aren't likely to rescue us either, it's up to us to recognize and use the technology properly.
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Old March 11 2013, 01:54 AM   #4
Crazy Eddie
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Halogen wrote: View Post
In particular, it seems that technology is harnessed to increase individual wealth at the expense of the masses for those who have the resources and ability to create and control technology. Whether deliberately and systematically introducing automation to reduce costs and displace workers, or building multilevel digital marketing campaigns that mislead consumers, or creating a risky computational model of financial markets that collapses and leaves investors in ruins.
That's economics and politics, not technology. The same technology that can be used to exploit a million people to enrich a greedy SOB can be just as easily used to empower a million people and keep that greedy SOB in check. It simply depends on who wields those technologies and when and under what circumstances they come to use them.

Technological progress makes EVERYTHING easier. It's only as good or as bad as the intentions of the people who cultivate it. If technology has taken a turn for the dark, it's because our SOCIETY has done so.


RAMA wrote: View Post
Yellowsubmarine...you dont really understand technology,
Neither do you. But at the risk of repeating myself I am compelled to point out:

in most cases there are small paradigm shifts, older technologies are displaced by newer ones, then so are workers, in turn the newer technologies tend to create more and better jobs for workers...
Technology doesn't create jobs either. That, too, is economics: the demand for specific goods and services drives the productive activities of suppliers, who hire workers as the need arises. Demand for new technologies drives hiring in technology sectors; innovation in the technology of production more often has the opposite effect, driving layoffs in some sectors that can now remain productive with fewer workers (or the suppression of wages in those sectors as workers see either their hours or their benefits/pay reduced).

Gene Roddenberry's idea of an advanced future may well come to exist (in fact it's more likely than ever), it's just not going to happen as he thought it would, ie: minus genetic/biotech engineering and automated machines and AI.
None of those are going to bring about Roddenberry's idea of an advanecd future. Both have an equal potential to enslave whole countries as to liberate and uplift them. It depends ENTIRELY on who invents those technologies first -- if they're invented at all -- and what they choose to use them for.
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Old March 11 2013, 02:12 AM   #5
Herkimer Jitty
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Halogen wrote: View Post
Yet it is my belief that technology in the last decade has taken a dark turn.
Technology has taken the turn it always takes - the development of new tools for use by human beings, a tool-using species if there ever was one.
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Old March 11 2013, 02:41 AM   #6
Halogen
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Sure, it is society that controls technology. For now. And we knew what i meant.

But even so I hear a lot of arguments from the intellectual elite about society this, society that, and even more analyses of the problem, with few commitments to change anything for anyone.

On the one hand they opine about the plight of the 99%, and yet forget to mention their ability to create labor saving technologies, and rearrange the structures of governments and organizations to benefit themselves and their kin and no one else, is how they got to the 1% in the first place. Rich conservatives (economic vs intellectual elite) are even worse because they just go on about hard work, when they know GD well that work has nothing to do with it.

So, really how pointless is it to say "technology can be good or bad, society decides" when all around you society is deciding the wrong thing?

Meanwhile a convenient vortex called the Internet has risen up to distract the humble masses with pictures of cats: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...nequality.html

That article says close to 90% of people think the world will be worse for their children. Isn't that, like, a recipe for revolution?

Look, you hear all the time about people who were "inspired to achieve" by Trek. About Whoopi Goldberg seeing uhura, or the poor boy who decided he wanted to become an engineer after seeing La Forge. But don't forget that (per JJ) Trek is about MORALITY THROUGH technology for the good of all mankind, not just to "empower" individuals to be the best they can be. If you do the latter without the former, I fear you start steering society toward someplace like today.

I really hope trek fans don't forget that.

Last edited by Halogen; March 11 2013 at 02:47 AM. Reason: Forgot something.
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Old March 11 2013, 04:43 AM   #7
Herkimer Jitty
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Halogen wrote: View Post
Sure, it is society that controls technology. For now. And we knew what i meant.

But even so I hear a lot of arguments from the intellectual elite about society this, society that, and even more analyses of the problem, with few commitments to change anything for anyone.
I can tell this discussion is going to be a problem, if you're going to use loaded terms like "intellectual elite". Is thinking the dark decline of humanity now?

How are we expected to take you seriously if educated discourse is a bad thing?

Halogen wrote: View Post
On the one hand they opine about the plight of the 99%, and yet forget to mention their ability to create labor saving technologies, and rearrange the structures of governments and organizations to benefit themselves and their kin and no one else, is how they got to the 1% in the first place. Rich conservatives (economic vs intellectual elite) are even worse because they just go on about hard work, when they know GD well that work has nothing to do with it.
Your issue is with society, not technology. You're confused.

Halogen wrote: View Post
So, really how pointless is it to say "technology can be good or bad, society decides" when all around you society is deciding the wrong thing?
According to you. That is to say, its your opinion.

Halogen wrote: View Post
Meanwhile a convenient vortex called the Internet has risen up to distract the humble masses with pictures of cats: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...nequality.html

That article says close to 90% of people think the world will be worse for their children. Isn't that, like, a recipe for revolution?
And yeah, according to you again. The New Yorker isn't an empirical source. Citation needed. Lrn 2 science.

Halogen wrote: View Post
Look, you hear all the time about people who were "inspired to achieve" by Trek. About Whoopi Goldberg seeing uhura, or the poor boy who decided he wanted to become an engineer after seeing La Forge. But don't forget that (per JJ) Trek is about MORALITY THROUGH technology for the good of all mankind, not just to "empower" individuals to be the best they can be. If you do the latter without the former, I fear you start steering society toward someplace like today.

I really hope trek fans don't forget that.
Thanks, I really could use more ill-informed didactic speeches from self-righteous internet crusaders. Go on. Thrill me.
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Old March 11 2013, 04:56 PM   #8
YellowSubmarine
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

RAMA wrote: View Post
Yellowsubmarine...you dont really understand technology
Now you're going to tell me that the wheel hasn't made it significantly easier to roll down that hill to your ultimate demise...

I can't understand why anybody would think somebody would suggest what I said seriously. If there are any wheel sceptics still out there, they should be put in a museum and regarded a cultural treasure. In fact, given that we have no record of what the backlash against the wheel was, and given the ridiculous way emerging technologies are badmouthed, they would be a rather hilarious historical discovery of epic proportions.

With the recent Tesla fiasco, I'm pretty sure somebody tried to put a square wheel on a cart to prove it's easier to carry it.
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Old March 11 2013, 06:58 PM   #9
Crazy Eddie
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

Halogen wrote: View Post
So, really how pointless is it to say "technology can be good or bad, society decides" when all around you society is deciding the wrong thing?
It's a bit like saying "Don't blame the car if the driver ran somebody over." The only reason the car came up in the first place is because you mentioned it; under normal circumstances we wouldn't be discussing it at all, we'd be pissed off at that drunk driver running people over.

The discussion about why western society has an innate tendency to screw over the vast majority of its population is an entirely different problem with entirely different types of solutions. Technology is neither the problem nor the solution, it's just a tool that shapes how the problem manifests.

That article says close to 90% of people think the world will be worse for their children. Isn't that, like, a recipe for revolution?
No, it's the recipe for a riot. Revolution requires a proscriptive ideology for what you want to make happen. It doesn't come about just because people are angry and scared.
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Old March 11 2013, 07:59 PM   #10
YellowSubmarine
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

But if you ran somebody over, it's a failure of the car too. A human will always be bad at driving, so a car driven by a human has a big flaw in it. That's why Google (and others) are trying to fix the car right now. It is broken.

That doesn't negate your larger point, though. In fact, cars are a great example of a technology that even while being lethal so often, is benefiting everyone with its existence and even making up for the risks of driving, often by saving lives.
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Old March 11 2013, 10:05 PM   #11
gturner
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Re: I need your thoughts on the dark side of technology

The issue of running people over was probably taken more seriously when it was trains killing both people and livestock. Back then there was a handful of engineers who operated trains and everybody else was a potential victim who had no experience at being a locomotive engineer. The train was like a technological demon that could kill all in its path. Once cars became common, everyone could experience being in control and convince themselves that they were good and careful drivers, so obviously that cars weren't the problem, bad drivers were.
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