And the Iphone is as good as I thought.

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alexwein
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:15 pm Post

"What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies 1871 - 1940"

Lovely, and written long before the iPhone. There is evidence from early Greek texts that expresses this same sentiment. I share it as well, and AJ's right, a lot of folks keep blaming technology. And maybe an argument could be made that technology is part of the problem or much of the problem. But it's our technology. It's just stuff we create out of our own impulses. I don't give a crap about the iPhone. Maybe I'll own one, maybe not. Depends on if I determine I need one.

But I do care deeply about who we are as a people, about who I am as a person, etc. I guess that's why I chose ethics and philosophy as my area of study. I think it useless to blame technology or rail on about it, etc. We created it, we feed it. It's here and ain't going anywhere. But we do have choice as to what we do with it, and to me, that's the heart of the issue. Here isa little story that comes to mind:

An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,â€
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vic-k
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 5:29 pm Post

AJ , Ahab, Mark, Alexandria, my friends, if I may make so bold,

AJ
As far as the Profs and the scribblers protestations were concerned, I think you can take it as a given, that what you`re referring to, owes more to the influences of ` vested commercial interests` rather than a concern for the continued existence of our race on our lovely planet, under circumstances and conditions, that don`t mimic those of `Bladerunner`.

Ahab,
I noticed that you stopped your quote of what I said, short of the qualifying: "I think what she feels is encapsulated within:"

I also think that if you go through the posts of this topic, you`ll realize that the irony to which you refer has been well and truly acknowledged and accepted as a fact by both sides of the debate, which if you think about it too much, is a statement that could only confirm your fears of `worst case scenario` apropos `Bladerunner`.

As I`ve already pointed out to Maria, the older I get the more aware I become of how my own arrogance, complacency, complicity and culpability, has contributed to what`s happening to our `Beautiful Planet`. And I hate it.

Mark,
Eggs or technology, do yourself a favor, friend, don`t put `em all in the same basket, bad move, bad move! But again I feel the urge to ask you; just how much do you `NEED` all your technology, as opposed to finding it really useful and convenient.

It should be obvious to us all, that we as a race, are pushing the parameters of technological dependence TOO FAR, TOO QUICKLY.

I could mention here the case of the Baltic State, (I think Latvia but I could be wrong), brought to its knees, by a supposed Cyber attack from Russia.

Once again I ask the question, `Just how much in hock do you think we are , and how vulnerable do you think we are becoming to the sudden loss of mod tech; individually; community wise; nationally; globally? I`d wager ,very!!!

And like the man said, Alexandria, "GOD`S responsible for the animal within me. But I AM, responsible for keeping it `under control." And, for me the words, "It`s here and it aint going anywhere; or There`s nothing you can do about it, so make the most of it", are someone's death sentence, sorry Alex. Eliminate the probable or possible hazardous human and environmental costs of the ubiquitous mobile phone culture, and I`ll gladly put up with the dickheads.

It sounds so naive and simplistic, but if the `Super Nova`of intellectual brilliance at the disposal of our race, were to be channelled more efficiently and effectively, towards technological and non-technological advances, that were designed to make `real and significantly beneficial changes, to ALL our lives, I would wholeheartedly embrace the changes.

I`m in awe of technological advances, fascinated, by them, not afraid of them. What I am afraid of is the misuse of them as well as our burgeoning pathetic dependence upon them. I`m afraid our capacity for self-reliance, is withering away from none use. As for the `Super Nova`, well that blows me away altogether. But I`d dearly love to see it properly harnessed.

As, (if I`ve understood you propperly) you rightly point out, Alex, this whole debate isn`t about Mod.Tech. It`s about us and how we relate to the world of Mod Tech.

I don`t want my legecy to the future, to be `Bladerunner` I`d rather it was:

"What is this life if free of care
We have some time to stand and stare?
Time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
And time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
Time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
With time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
Have time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this would be, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Take care
Vic
Last edited by vic-k on Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 5:51 pm Post

The reason that I bowed out of this discussion is because all of the technology apologists kept leaping onto this argument you have put forth, while nobody in this thread has once said that a hunk of plastic and metal is evil. Not once; and I have stated so very clearly on multiple occasions, in an attempt to clarify against a deluge of comments all riled up about how it is the humans not the machines.

All of my arguments revolve around how humans interact with machines, and how their interaction with machines evolves the way they react to their environments.

I believe it is a serious fallacy to draw a magic line between that which we create, and that which we are. While it would be silly to declare an inert object having any morality or intentions one way or the other by itself, it would be equally silly to divorce from the equation how humans act around that inert object. The strength at which any argument against an object only increases as the concerning effects can be duplicated over long periods of times between disparate groups of humanity. In other words: If Object X repeatedly causes people to act in ways that can eventually become predictable in large groups, it becomes reasonable to ascribe sociological qualities to that object.

This does not mean that the object inherits human qualities, but that its relationship with humanity has been shown to cause human qualities to replicate over repeated experiments and studies.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, we are predictable. We have instincts and behaviouralistic tendencies which cause us to act in certain ways in certain conditions, and in the presence of other humans, and yes even in the presence of inert and functional objects. The study of how conditions and objects effect humans is all I was talking about here.

I am perhaps a little radical in that I ascribe much less of a delineation between human influence and object influence. I don't see much difference between a group of people causing a person to act in ways they otherwise would not act, and an object causing a person to act in ways they otherwise would not act. The evolution of character in relation to objects can in fact be much more intense than the former type, because while hypothetical human X might only be coerced into going out to the pub once every few months and get into situations they might not otherwise agree with, they are often constantly exposed to objects and the powers that these objects invest upon their person. Increasing the potential danger of this relationship between objects and humanity is that the effect is often much more subtle, but when applied consistently, year after year, can cause a person to completely change their character, while a few bad decisions from the result of group mechanics will probably just become a bad memory.

Whether or not that change is for the better depends entirely upon the relationship between the object and the person, and the powers that object grants upon the person. To say that the object is completely free of any blame without humans is just as narrow-minded as saying that the object itself is evil (which, once again, to clarify, again, for those who are still confused, I Am Not Saying--I do not even believe in "evil" as a valid absolute ethical term).

Can our technology feed the evil wolf, most definitely? Can it represent that part of ourselves? I definitely agree it can. But so can a lot of other aspects of our lives--what we eat, purchase, what we say and do all feeds either wolf.


Agreed, and I'm not drawing any lines between food, cell phones, church, automobiles, typewriters, friends, suburbia, admired innovators, late night television, or absinthe. When it comes to how we act upon, and how acting upon in turn effects our future tendencies, these things are all in the same group. So I agree with that, but then you go on to say in the same paragraph,

It is our own callousness and greed that is hurting people in third world countries, not any bit of technology. Technology is something PEOPLE use.


So which is it? Does it feed the wolf, or is it just something that gets used in a near vacuum like state of mind with no possibility for entrainment, habit, perspective shifting, power tripping, enlightenment, joy, sorrow, et cetera. I find the notion of the second option to be highly unrealistic unless the human involved is catatonic or otherwise severely mentally ill. To apply this to reality: Can you truthfully say that the technological advancement of the fast-food industry is not negatively impacting the third world? Do you honestly believe that the same negative impact could be applied through sheer greed and callousness, without that army of food manufacturing equipment and factory farming innovation?

...And I think that is really underneath this entire discussion.


I disagree with that. This is the entire discussion.

To come at this from another angle: You know that feeling you get the first time you use a new piece of technology that makes you say, "Wow!" That is the point where we are the most honest with ourselves. That first time we sent an email and got a response ten seconds later. It was amazing. Now we do it all of the time without even thinking about it; further we now expect that sort of rapid communication. If somebody responded to your important email with a hand written letter that took twenty days to receive, you (hypothetically of course) might be ticked until you actually got it and smiled nostalgically. We have changed because of a technology. People who say technology doesn't effect them are acting within habitual patterns and only feel ambivalent about it because they are already completely assimilated to a certain set of power enhancements. This is the so called blind spot that I was referring to earlier. This doesn't just happen with technology. This is the way our brain works, for our own protection. We would burn ourselves out if we experienced every single moment, amazed like a 3 year old. This is one of the predictable human traits that allow us to analyse how objects impact us, and whether or not the learned adjustments to our personality benefit or harm us and those around us.

So I suppose I'm just not that interested in arguments that take on technology and the evils of it, etc.


Great, neither is anyone else here. Nobody has said anything like that except for the technology apologists, which repeatedly invoke it as if that is the only issue on debate. Case closed! Plastic cannot be evil you silly person!

But WE are creating that distance, not the technology--through producing it, buying it, desiring it.


This sentence makes no sense to me. Exactly where does the technology end and the human begin? The parallels between this mindset of Us and Machine strikes me as very dualistic; a notion that should have been discarded millennia ago, but tragically still lingers on. If the human mind reacts on a chemically identical basis to the artefacts of technology, as it does to the artefacts of human relationship, it is time to discard technodualism and look at things in a much more holistic manner.

But we do have choice as to what we do with it, and to me, that's the heart of the issue.


Unlike you, I don't think we have as much of a choice in the matter. Advertisements wouldn't work if we had as much choice as that. Industrial and political inertia would collapse if we had that much choice. As I said above, we are predictable things; and we have known patterns and weaknesses common to the bulk of us that any skilled human can take advantage of. I don't think anyone here can rationally deny that. Even a cursory examination into the sciences of behaviourism, neuroscience, information theory, and other researches of consciousness will reveal just how illusory and fickle the notion of the concious choice is. My conclusion: Most of our lives are operated on in auto-pilot, even the parts we think are within the realm of consciousness, such as reason, pattern matching, and yes, even ethics.

Likewise, we are prone to weaknesses against devices that have been designed by humans to take advantage of us. To mystically separate the relationship between humans and "technology" is to in effect deny all of that. To say that the iPhone has no effect on the future of humanity is, in my opinion, a mistake of dire proportions. Whether or not it has a positive or negative effect has yet to be seen, of course, but given that it combines several technologies which are known to impact humanity in a negative manner (and just to be safe, I am talking at the Kantian Conclusion level here, not cousin Sally who saves lives with her cell phone), and that it has combined these technologies into a package that is easy to use for nearly anyone who picks it up, definitely makes it something worth a little cautious attention. To pass this off as something along the lines of, "well people choose to use it incorrectly, so it's not the iPhone's fault" is completely irrelevant to this discussion, and nothing but a great big straw cell phone. As somebody else aptly implied, let's please not bring the NRA into this. :)

Upon refresh: Vic said in one line something that I meant to address and largely left as an implication in what I had to say: Our ability to create functional objects exceeds our ability to responsibly handle them. That we can create them, doesn't mean that we as a society can choose to use them correctly. There are thousands upon thousands of examples where technology has been wholly designed to exploit this specific inability, and many times more than that where technology designed for benign reasons has been misapplied because of that.
Last edited by AmberV on Sat Jul 07, 2007 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 5:55 pm Post

"It`s here and it aint going anywhere; or There`s nothing you can do about it, so make the most of it"

Not the same thing--so please don't put those words in my mouth. "It ain't going anywhere" does not equal "make the most of it." My whole life is about effecting change. Just because we aren't going to get rid of these technologies or anything else we might find to be obstacles in human living doesn't mean we don't ever stop working to get meliorate them! I guess my point is where you put your focus in doing so. I put it square on human behavior and our own individual responsibility. And I'm not saying you or anyone else is saying differently. I just don't want to get distracted by talking about iPhones and the like! Like railing against what is there and will likely be there for a long time to come, these manufactured artifacts of our particular human culture. New emerging technologies are nothing new--they just seem to be emerging more quickly than before. But for me the issue is still the same. Better to rail against how it is being used or misused. That's the real constant. It's like trying to treat the symptom and not the disease. Just my opinion.

Alexandria
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:02 pm Post

I concur with your last post, Alex, up to the point of not examining existing technologies in an effort to better discover what these human weaknesses are. Without the examples, you might as well be conducting research without subjects. It is useful to use prior and existing technologies to highlight areas of human tendency (both on the consumption level and the production and design levels), and if we ever mean to grow up as a species to the point where we can responsibly use what we have created, we must look to the present and the past in specific terms. So I don't see it as useless to "rail" against something that already exists, in so far as that does not become the sole argument.
.:.
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 9:34 pm Post

Imo, the need to communicate is innate to humankind, as is the drive to create tools.

The... sadness... (if you will; I won't call something inert 'evil') of the technology that's been developing since the invention of the telephone is the ephemeral nature of it.

As someone who enjoys studying the past, I understand that while the technology gives us unprecedented abilities to communicate, it also takes away the preservation of that communication. Yes, there are internet archives to a point, but on the whole, the "past" will have a huge hole in it.

Will I give up my iPhone and take up writing letters? No. I value being in touch with those I care about more than I do an abstract worry about future history.

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Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:08 pm Post

AmberV wrote:I concur with your last post, Alex, up to the point of not examining existing technologies in an effort to better discover what these human weaknesses are. Without the examples, you might as well be conducting research without subjects. It is useful to use prior and existing technologies to highlight areas of human tendency (both on the consumption level and the production and design levels), and if we ever mean to grow up as a species to the point where we can responsibly use what we have created, we must look to the present and the past in specific terms. So I don't see it as useless to "rail" against something that already exists, in so far as that does not become the sole argument.


Agreed. You are quite right that we need starting points for discussion, and I have always said that looking at technology this way can be very interesting and fruitful--as long as we see it as a pointer to the deeper issues. I do also think it can be easy to get into making it just about the technology, that technology is bad or to blame, where for me it only points to who we are and all of that. The earlier parts of this discussion seemed to focus on the technology itself, though I think also that I'm saying nothing that wasn't implied. I guess it's a shift in focus for me. I don't want to stay focused on the iPhone et al. In fact, I've seen equally compelling arguments on how such devices can foster some very positive changes and express some really interesting aspects of how we are evolving, etc., in a positive light. This is part of why I think technology itself is completely neutral in the sense of having any moral status. Morality, ethics, is about behavior. Artifacts do nothing of themselves! Also my early training in anthropology. What we create are artifacts which of themselves are just things we use or create but which really take on their fullest realization in how they are used by us. So, that is what is really interesting to me. Not to talk so much about the technology and it's moral status (the iPhone is vile, whatever) since it has none! But our behavior certainly does.

Okay, I've gone on about this more than enough I'm sure! :) I do a lot of 'railing' myself! Believe me.

I think this forum continues to grow in really interesting ways--a group of highly intelligent, thoughtful, occasionally hilarious and witty fellow writers. How fun is that!?

Alexandria
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:19 pm Post

Studio717 wrote:Imo, the need to communicate is innate to humankind, as is the drive to create tools.

The... sadness... (if you will; I won't call something inert 'evil') of the technology that's been developing since the invention of the telephone is the ephemeral nature of it.


And yet... my brother is a semiprofessional photographer. He lives and works at Yellowstone National Park, in some of the most beautiful country in the US. He sends pictures to the family on a regular basis.

Even though his digital photographs are technically more ephemeral than his film photos, I find that I get much more enjoyment from the digital images. It's easier to sort through them, easier to incorporate them into my own projects, easier to share them with friends. His digital images reach a larger audience than his film images. That may make them less ephemeral: if more people see them, more will have the opportunity to preserve them.

Which makes a larger contribution to our cultural heritage? Freely shared digital materials, or materials that, due to copyright restrictions, are "trapped" in print media.

Katherine

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Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:25 pm Post

Hi, Katherine,

I wasn't talking about how wonderful all the sharing via tech is - I love that aspect myself. I was talking more about two, three hundred + years hence when so much of the digital information either won't exist or won't be accessible.

We lose so much over time anyway, I was just lamenting that the digital aspect of our lives today will have disappeared for those in the future.

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Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:47 pm Post

Alexandria,
I`ve offended you, and I`m sorry, but I wasn`t ascribing the sentiments embodied within the words, "or "There`s nothing you can do...." to you. And I did actually say that `for me`, those words were, along with `" It aint going anywhere", a death sentence, to someone, somewhere. Those aren`t words I`d use lightly.

The connotation I chose to attach to them, was based on my experience, over 63 yrs of interacting, with the hundreds and hundreds of people I`ve encountered, who, when presented with a situation, requiring serious decision making, concerning aspects of their behavior, invariably go for the softer option, when presented with a choice. Especially if that choice is influenced by the introduction, of an element of `fatalism, as is embodied in the phrase , "It`s here and it aint going any where. But you do have choices as to how you ........"

8 out of 10 of us, will `choose` to `Make the most of it`, to suit our own ends. The possible `Butterfly Effect` consequences of our decision, on others, won`t necessarily be uppermost in our thoughts, if ever.

You`re a big hearted woman Alex, who wants the best for everyone. I`m an old cynic who wishes things were better. But I wasn`t putting words into your mouth. I`ve too much respect for you to do that.

Good night
Take Care
vic
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Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:51 pm Post

Studio717 wrote:Hi, Katherine,

I wasn't talking about how wonderful all the sharing via tech is - I love that aspect myself. I was talking more about two, three hundred + years hence when so much of the digital information either won't exist or won't be accessible.

We lose so much over time anyway, I was just lamenting that the digital aspect of our lives today will have disappeared for those in the future.


Oh, I realize that.

I guess I had two points. First, the added sharing today is worth something, even if it comes at the price of a loss to the future. And second, that materials people care about will be preserved, one way or another. A digital file is vulnerable to technological obsolescence, but the more widely disseminated that file is, the greater the chance that *someone* will care enough to translate it into the next format. A work that exists only in the original -- whether a handwritten journal or a photographic negative -- is vulnerable, too. (Perhaps our resident archaeologists and historians would like to comment on the randomness of the preservation of our cultural artifacts?)

Katherine

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Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:01 am Post

vic-k wrote:As far as the Profs and the scribblers protestations were concerned, I think you can take it as a given, that what you`re referring to, owes more to the influences of ` vested commercial interests`...

I believe it was about intellectuals anxious that things they felt they should be able to control (the copying and dissemination of knowledge) were moving beyond their control.

I think a lot of the anxiety expressed in this thread comes from the fact that we are adults confronting the new, rather than children accepting the given.

All of us here* grew up with printed books as a given. As children, we accepted and used and enjoyed objects which the rhetoric of those who opposed printing characterised as various shades of damned, damnable and damning. I don't think any of us ended up damned as a result.

Printed books became a favourite pasttime object for all of us here, and eventually turned into a profession or vocation. This was something just not even considered in the rhetoric of those who were anxious about the printing press.

My son and his peers are growing up with the same sort of relations to contemporary telecommunications that all of us here developed with printed books. They will develop practices of communication, manners and thought that are different from the ones we grew up with - which themselves were different from the ones people grew up with before printing. (I imagine there were people in the 16th century stewing about how rude it was for others to read in public places.) I don't believe he or they are moving any closer to disaster than we did when we picked up the love of reading.

Modern telecommunications are indeed changing the way we relate to others and to ourselves - in the same way that printed books enabled new ways for masses of people to reflect, to acquire knowledge and fantasies, to store memories, and to relate socially ("I am the writer; you are the reader", "I am the knower; you are the inquirer") and materially ("That's a lovely Coverdale Bible you have"). A century from now, you and I wouldn't recognise much of the social structure that will have integrated modern telecoms. I think if my mother were alive today, she would have a hard time accepting that someone sitting on the couch with a little keyboard and TV on their lap could be at work.

If you think people who use their phones on the street are dickheads, be aware there are still people who don't enjoy reading and who think those of us who do are dickheads. The same name-calling expresses the same condition: you don't share the habits of your target.

Personally, I don't have a problem with other people using their phones on the street. I tune them out. I've come to expect them. I'm not upsetting myself over something I can't control. What I do with technology is my own responsibility; what others do with it is not my business, I believe, any more than my reading is anyone else's business.

Campaign against it if you must. I believe it will have about the same effect on the world beyond yourself as does the rhetoric of the 15th and 16th centuries on your practice of reading.
___
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:58 am Post

They will develop practices of communication, manners and thought that are different from the ones we grew up with


Such as being utterly incapable of planning anything more than a half-hour in advance?

:D :) :?

Dave

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Sun Jul 08, 2007 4:23 am Post

Oh, you've met my brother-in-law, the scatter-brained uni lecturer?

:wink:
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 4:45 am Post

Oh, you've met my brother-in-law, the scatter-brained uni lecturer?


No . . . I've met his students.

:?

Dave