05-12-2014 | Modern Apes

from William Irwin Thompson, "Evil and World Order," p. 21

The cliche is vapidly reasserted that technology is only a tool to be used for good or ill, as the user chooses; and since technology gives the user a choice that he didn't have before, it really is positively good while it is scrupulously neutral. Still more distinguished writers have challenged this assumption, I should probably not rise to the bait, but one more time.

Technology is not a tool, it is a culture. As an environment of symbols whose most important expressions are not machines and buildings but the institutions they embody, technology is powerful enough to warp even starlight as it passes through its field. When you live in such an environment, you are not free to pick up one tiny tool and use it as you choose. You are overwhelming constrained to perform according to the culture of rationalization and the process definition of values. Because the technocrat claims that values are not eternal a priori forms of human consciousness, he is free to bend them to the requirements of his time. The real thrust of this book, like the real transformation of the new MIT, is the call for a shift from technological hardware to the implementation of whole new managerial-governmental systems for the control of an advanced technological society. And if such traditional values as religion or the Constitution stand in the way, they must be modified in a progressive fashion. Values, as every good liberal knows, are not Platonic forms of "pure categories of understanding"; they are constantly changing accomodations to historcal change: since man is in process, he can be processed.

"We're fighting for free software running on top of hardware produced by slaves. This is exactly the same paradox of the American founding father Thomas Jefferson, talking about human liberty while living on a farm where slaves did most of the manual labor. We're in exactly the same position that Jefferson was in. The tools that we're using to talk about liberty are being produced by people who are fundamentally unfree."

"And this goes right to the heart of our problem." -- Vinay Gupta

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