Re: WIRED 6.01/Technocracy R.I.P.

Hal Finney (
Tue, 30 Dec 1997 12:37:16 -0800

Dale Carrico,, writes:
> I enjoyed WIRED 6.01 quite a lot, but I found it really annoying in places
> too.
> [...]
> I don't mean to argue basics here,
> to suggest that Schlesinger's specific fears aren't misguided ones, but do
> we really want to deny that changes of extraordinary magnitude are going
> down and that it may be useful to talk about them and even engineer their
> flow here and there to bring about the best results we can manage? Postrel
> goes on to distinguish what she calls "stasists" from "dynamists", those
> who shrink from change as opposed to those who seek change, and drawing
> the ideological battle lines here seems to me to encourage a
> thoughtlessness in the face of the future that is reckless and hopeless.

I have not yet read the issue, but it sounds like Postrel has a point.
Much of the opposition to progress and advancement comes from those who
fear change. The Rifkins and other neo-Luddites seem to oppose every new
technology that comes along. It is important to counter the view that
change is something to be feared.

Of course you are right that not all change is good. Once we get past
the view that change in itself is threatening, we can then stand on
common ground to evaluate various possible options. Each of us will make
their own decisions about which changes and new technologies to embrace.
Some may seem initially beneficial, like new designer drugs, or full-sense
virtual sex, but in the end may prove to be harmful.

I wrote earlier today about knee-jerk libertarianism. Let us agree that
people are free to exploit whatever technologies they like in order to
improve their lives. When we speak of "talking about" changes and
"engineering their flow" it is in the context of mutually voluntary
interactions, of persuasion and reason, not force and coercion. This
provides an unthreatening context to discuss the opportunities and
dangers which change presents.

I would support a form of "dynamism" which recognizes that change is
inevitable, and that change is not to be opposed per se. But at the same
time, within the dynamic context we still want to think carefully and
critically about the new possibilities available to us, their implications
and effects.