Against Neo-Luddites, pt. 2
I’ve been reading a book I expected to vehemently oppose.
I’m finding that I’m not. Now, I’m not completely onboard with the writer’s thinking, but he’s put words to my apprehension to the Neo-Luddites of our day. He’s sympathized with the Amish and acknowledged (even advocated for) their virtue.
The book is, of course, What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly.
One theory: … technology is, therefore, an addiction… we are addicted to the dopamine rush of the new.
If that was true, the remedy is a bit unsettling. All addictions are fixed by effecting change not in the offending pleasure but in the person addicted. Whether it is via a 12-step program or medication, the problem is resolved in the heads of the addicted. In the end they are liberated not be changing the nature of television, the internet, gambling machines, or alcohol but by changing their relation to it. Those who overcome addictions do so by assuming power over their powerlessness. If the technium (the world of technology) is an addiction, we can’t solve this addiction by trying to change the technium.
Kelly loves this word “technium”:
I’ve reluctantly coined a word to designate the greater, global, massively interconnected system of technology vibrating around us. I call it the technium. The technium extends beyond shiny hardware to include culture, art, social institutions, and intellectual creations of all types. It includes intangibles like software, law, and philosophical concepts.
What Kelly seems to be referring to is the section of Creation that was initiated through human hands, and now proceeds on its own. It proceeds on its own, but still, is God not in control?
This often ends up being the case.
One year after Edison constructed the first phonograph, he was still trying to figure out what his invention might be used for. Edison knew more about this invention than anyone, but his speculations were all over the map… in a list he drew up of possible uses for the phonograph, Edison added at the end, almost as an afterthought, the idea of playing recorded music.
The predictivity of most new things is very low. The Chinese inventor of gunpowder most likely did not forsee the gun. William Sturgeon, the discoverer of electromagnetism, did not predict electric motors.
Who knows what some new technology can be employed to do? Well, God does. And he seems to permit it, for the most part. Even those technologies with no noble uses for which they are well-suited, seem to have not been smitten from the earth.