Re: Modern Technology: Out of Control?

Michael Lorrey (
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 08:40:04 -0500

Weslake, Brad BG wrote:

> So you propose that the control is not in the hands of the technologists
> themselves - this leaves any control primarily in the hands of those who
> would regulate the technology being developed. At the current time, this
> is the government. If the technologists themselves are not in control of
> the implications of technological developments what hope do governments
> have of responsibly creating policies?

The only real areas that have any measure of controlling the pace of
advancement are the supply of the capital markets to new technology
businesses, government funding for research, and the market's demand for new
features and capabilities. Because there isn't one area that has monopoly
control, if you try to limit one, the others will tend to compensate, and if
you limit them all, I would expect other, presently less influential paths,
will come to the fore. If government doesn't want what is happening, they
really only have the choice of either abdicating, or invoking a worldwide
'cultural revolution' to end the trends that began with the Rennaissance.
They cannot have their cake and eat it too.

People, as individuals, are tending to fall into two groups, which is
directly related to the level with which they as individuals use new
technologies, and with how late in life they as individuals are still
capable of new learning and growth. In the 60's, grandparents couldn't
relate to just about anything their grandkids were doing, as their personal
paradigms were calcified and obsolescent with the current and emerging
status quos, which aided the desctruction of the extended family. Today, the
trend is that parents are experiencing the same dysfunction with respect to
their kids. Parents who have trouble with, or can't program a VCR or set up
a sereo system, are totally oblivious to the manner in which their kids
easily become computer capable like fish to water.

The old societal paradigm was that the parents and grandparents taught the
children about getting along in the world, but today it is reversed, with
kids being the instructors in the use of technology. At my local community
college, most of the computer course instructors are in their 20's and early
30's, while most of the students are older. For people raised in a time when
elders were the respected members of society, this is a highly jarring
experience, to have to take instruction from 'young whippersnappers'.

In order to overcome this, there needs to be widespread dissemination of
exercises for stretching the mind, keeping it fit and flexible late in life.
However, I think that the public anti-tech furor is mostly the last gasps of
the beatnik and hippie adherents to an acadian reverence for technological
simplicity. There is a possibility of a New Amish subculture forming
(remember, the original Amish live by technology that was current at the
start of the industrial revolution) here at the beginning of the information
revolution, but those who do not take an active role in such separating
efforts will merely die out and be replaced by people who are already today
living with attitudes of flexibility, who rejoice in change.

> Alternatively the question becomes: "Is the guiding force of the
> government sufficient to responsibly ensure human survival in the face
> of rapidly advancing technology? If not, what is the solution?"

Is the guiding force of technology sufficient to responsibly ensure human
survival in the face of the continuing threat of extermination and
oppression by obsolescent government organizations, and the narrowminded and
unfounded fears of willingly obsolete people who exercise undue influence
over those governments?

Mike Lorrey