[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0486295834″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Al1UezsqL._SL160_.jpg” width=”100″]It is all too easy to assume that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are diametrically opposed. But while they may have different destinations in mind, the road to get there – what they need to do to achieve their respective ends – is a shared one. Techno-optimists and Techno-Progressives express hope and passion for technologies’ liberating and empowering potentials, while techno-pessimists and neo-luddites are fearful of their dystopic and dehumanizing potentials. Optimists want to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can improve self and society, while optimists seek to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can make matters worse.
But they both agree on the underlying premise that technologies can and likely will have profoundly transformative effects on self and society. They agree not only that we have the power to shape the outcomes such technologies can foster, that we have the power to affect and to a large extent determine the ultimate embodiment and repercussions of such technologies – but also that such technologies impel us to make concerted efforts towards determining such repercussions and embodiments! It may not look that way from the inside-out, but they are fighting to realize their vision of Humanity’s brightest future. Until we reach the day when the majority of humanity has extensively acknowledged the expansive power such transformative technologies hold, Techno-optimists & Techno-pessimists, Transhumanists & Luddites, and Revolutionaries & Revivalists alike are on the same side! Both camps are on a campaign to alert planet earth of the titanic transformations rushing foreforth upon its horizons. Both agree on the underlying potential such technologies hold for changing the world and the self – whether encased as Prized Present or in Pandora’s Box – and both are weary for the world to wake up and smell the rising.
And besides, we’re all in it together, no? At least Techno-pessimists are thinking about such issues, and putting forth their appraisals. At least they’ve begun to consider what is at stake. Is a techno-pessimist closer to a Techno-Progressive or Transhumanist than one who doesn’t take a stance either way? Perhaps, even if it makes for a tough pill to swallow and a gruff pull to follow.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B007N9217Q” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41zsWIAGO3L._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Not that the likes of Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama and other such Neo-Luddites, Developmental Critics, or Anarcho-Primitivists are to be heralded or left to lie without rebuttal. Their pessimism still does cause palpable harm, as in the delays in Stem-Cell research caused by G.W. Bush’s “President’s Council on Bioethics” evidenced. Thus we shouldn’t simply smile politely and let them on their merry way… But neither should we automatically jump to out-snuff their wild-fires of panic.
We should instead let them whip up their frenzies, let them promulgate the sentiment that technology can and likely will have profoundly transformative affects on self and society, but be there waiting in the wings, to attest for Icarus’s insight and to offer Prometheus a light.
Let them have their say, because it increases public awareness of the transformative potential of high technology, because it clues people in to the fact that there many dangers are possible with these technologies (even if we disagree on the nature and extent of those dangers), but be sure to be there waiting, ready to refute their specific and untenable solutions, and not their call for fear in the first place. We are right to simultaneously fear and hope for technology’s transformative potentials. But considering that both Neo-Luddites and Techno-Progressives alike agree on the transformative and world-whirling capabilities of high technology, is it more likely that we can take them in hand and shape the course of their eventual realization by outright relinquishment, or by taking advantage of those very transformative potentialities so as to increase our ability to shape them, in a self-recursive feedback loop fitting for Man, the self-shaping shaper?
Editor’s Note: This article is Part One of a series. Part Two will be published on 09/27/13.
Image Source: Flickr
Love our content? Join the Serious Wonder Community. It’s free, and we have lots of incentives for readers and contributors!