I liked the article by Nye about the different ways technology can affect our future. I personally think that technology is not going to take over the world, and we will not slowly become so engrossed by it that we forget how to communicate. It's just another channel for communication, not a replacement for face-to-face communication. I'm not sure how people can feel inadequate to their machines when we are the ones who invent them. No, most of us don't personally invent them, but humans do. I don't feel inadequate to my computer, I just appreciate it that much more because it helps me in my every day life. Computers and other technologies are helping humans invent even more things, especially the solutions to the problems that Nye mentioned. I think people like to read too much into stuff like this, and a harmless computer goes from a tool to a monster that's taking over the world.
Nye's article was very compelling. I completely agree that humans' interaction with technology is not an action reaction relationship, but a cyclical one. We act with technology and technologies develop with us. I do find it incredibly interesting that there are so many distopian stories written surrounding such ideas of society and technology. Technology changing society to the point where society no longer resembles what it once did. Our trepidation around technology is important in that it is positive to think about what it is that we are consuming as opposed to simply consuming and using technologies without a second thought.
I really liked Nye’s quote that “Cultures select and shape technologies, not the other way around (210) because it gave hope that we are not all doomed to go down one path in the future as new forms of technology come out. The technologies are created to serve the needs of the culture that we operate in; if we find one to be more stifling than helpful, we have the option to reject it. This also gives hope that people can have a culture serperate from technology; although we rely on it for so many basic life functions, we can choose to interact and have cultural norms that are not totally reliant upon technology. It was also helpful to hear that “Neither the technologies of the future nor their social uses are predictable” (211). I think it’s easy to get into the mindset that our grandchildren are going to have it way worse than us and not know what true communication and friendship is, but we’re kind of just freaking ourselves out with a fear of radical change that may never come true. Overall, technology can help us, but it does not determine our lives.
I really enjoyed reading the article by Nye. This article kind of reminded me of some of Sherry Turkle's work. I do not think robots and technology will completely take over, because I believe that humans will always need the human touch to survive, but it is something to think about. I especially like the conclusion when he says, "We must try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue". He is very profound when he says that basically we are the ones that decide how much we want technology to play a role in our society and world as a whole.
I wholeheartedly agree with Nye's proposal that we need to have some type of advisory group or specialized group that helps lawmakers create/approve/modify laws regarding technology. I think a great example for why we need some sort of advisory board can be seen through the speech that Ted Stevens gave to the senate in 2006. He likened the internet to a series of tubes and claimed that these tubes get clogged up and that is why the internet can behave slowly. Or to put it in his words (he is discussing why an email took so long for him to received): "I just the other day got - an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially."
This is particularly troubling because he was giving this speech to a special committee who were working on a new communications act that specifically dealt with net neutrality. I think with issues as CISPA once again coming up, we need some way to better inform our lawmakers. When PIPA and SOPA originally came out, lawmakers were alerted to public dismay (due to large campaigns on the part of wikipedia and other large internet sites) but were they really educated as to why the public was outraged?
David Nye’s chapter, “Not Just One Future” was a good reading to close out the semester. After all, in order to understand technology we must not only examine its past but consider its future as well. Nye makes several good points, and I found it refreshing that he doesn’t feel the need to cling to one possible future and say, “This is how it’s going to be.” I also appreciated his acknowledgement of the vital role culture plays in technological development. I’ve heard the term “technological determinism” thrown around in readings and lectures more times than I can count, and while I don’t entirely discredit those who believe it’s a plausible theory, it’s not one I subscribe to. I agree with Nye that technological momentum is more appropriate when considering the changes and impacts of technology.
Technology in and of itself does not cause change. At the same time, without technology, many cultural changes would manifest themselves differently. Take relationships, for example. In my opinion, Facebook is so successful because it helps satisfy a human need to connect and relate to others around us. This need would exist whether or not Facebook existed. That said, the way we connect and act out relationships, the ways in which our need for relationships is satisfied, is influenced by how Facebook works. Are our relationships becoming more shallow because this is the kind of relationship Facebook’s features lend themselves to? Perhaps, but to attribute this change entirely to technology would mean disregarding other important social and cultural factors independent from technology.
I thought the Nye reading was interesting and how he states that cultures select and shape technology, not the other way around. I have to agree with this, but only to an extent. Our different cultures around the world are what think of the ideas to invent new technology and to shape them to evolve into what we see today. However, I think that once these technologies are made, we do use them to then shape certain aspects of our society. The example I can think of is the cell phone. The type of culture that wanted communication access at each person’s own convenience was what shaped the invention and production of the cell phone. Once these phones were finally available to the general public, they became a staple for our culture. We used it to make telephone calls outside of the home, while it also allowed others to contact us while we are out of the home. I feel this eventually is what, in return, shaped our culture to continue wanting more ways to be productive and efficient during the day. It made us so use to always “being available” that we feel we must now always be in contact with our friends and family some way or another. So, although technology is mostly invented to help our lives in some way, I do think that it cycles around and impacts the future culture of our society.
The reading from Nye reminded me of one of my favorite books, Feed. It is one of my favorite books because though it is a work of fiction, a story about our future and the technology we have, I think that the plot of the book and the types of technology that people posses in the future are very plausible. It takes place in the future where everyone has a computer chip implanted in his or her brain since birth. This chip allows him or her to surf the Internet, watch TV, listen to the radio, download a school day’s lesson, or communicate telepathically with those around him or her. The book follows two characters, one of which becomes ill from the chip, and another who is too caught up in the world of the future to care about the fate of the former. This dystopian world illustrated in Feed seems like a believable outcome for our society. The technology, this brain chip, completely rules and defines the world and manipulates the social processes of the characters. It’s a terrifying future.
Nye's article was informative about the formation of technological patterns in our culture. I thought it was interesting that he sees technology as undetermined and shaped by the culture, which doesn't seem to be the way that many people think about it. Many see certain technologies as inevitable. I also liked how he pointed out the lack of technological education that many leaders have, which has forced them to rely on committees that have more knowledge.
I thought the Franzen piece had a good point about the string of lights. Although there were only a few bulbs that didn't work, he had to get rid of the entire string, which seems to be a large waste. Also the idea of not knowing how to handle the complexity of the machine and being unable to fix it ran throughout the two pieces.
The Corrections piece was a very interesting piece of prose, moving between contemplations on the simplicity of past life with the infinite oversimplification of the future. Though those points may seem at odds, as they both rely upon simplicity, they are quite different. The author sees himself and the past as a way of living, without the new technologies, the parallel strings or even the life preservers, where there were simple solutions to simple problems, the plugging in of lights until the line lit up as well as the solution of death. These simple solutions attract the narrator in a way that is very primal, appealing to the most natural part of his brain, its striving for the infinite in a world where the finite is reality. They remind him of a time when he could spend a day just working on lights and had the time to do so. But, I love the fact that though this appeals to the narrator, he is unable to grasp those solutions anymore, sticking with those that are pushing towards the future, the preserver and the parallel lines. Though they do not hold a mental draw to himself, likening their existence as a perversion of scientists or as living in a retirement home, he like many living today is unable to escape the so called 'luxeries' of the modern day.
It was a very interesting read and was enlightening in my own sense of whether or not the past could be a solution that creates the simplicity and allows for the infinite we desire. Unfortunately, I believe I am like the narrator, unable to give up modern life for the ideals of the past.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on May 6, 2013 2:06 PM.
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