18 December 2006

My Anti-Technology Stance

I think it is time I did a little house cleaning.

I won’t lie: artificial intelligence scares the pants off me. I am worried, however, that because my classmates in digital history are all too aware of this fact, it distorts their understanding of how I really feel.

In that class, I came out, it seems, with a new fear or criticism of the digital world every week. I believe that in the minds of my classmates and professor, I became somewhat of a fear-monger, the equivalent of those prophetic people depicted throughout the 1980s with long, straggly beards, torn clothing, and sandwich boards telling anyone and everyone who would listen that “The End Is Near!”

Well, I want to clear this up.

I am not that guy.

Okay, maybe a little bit. I am growing a beard. So what?

As I explained in one of our classes, my fear of technology stems from the first time I watched Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I recognized in that film the possibility of such a world, a world in which computers have taken over, and humans no longer exist.

Other things have influenced me along the way, too. The Matrix is a good one. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, too. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s 1984 are a couple of books I read in my formative years that deeply affected me.

But those are just the most popular and familiar of all media influences on my fragile psyche. Millions of other people have also seen those films, and yet they have not adopted my worldview.

People who know me might also point out that I have a tendency to have somewhat irrational fears. I have watched one horror film my entire life. It gave me nightmares for seven years. Hence, it is the only horror film I will probably ever watch. Ever. And I am a grown adult. I cannot separate that fiction from reality. (As an aside, and what is worse, is that in fetching the link to the Internet Movie Database for that one horror film, I noticed that it falls under the genre of “comedy” before it falls under “horror.” How embarrassing.)

But I digress.

Despite all these fears, I have, I believe, embraced technology to a great extent. By no means am I a computer wizard, but I do know my way around a computer fairly well. Sometimes I feel I am hypocritical for doing so. Sometimes I think I am just lazy. But most of the time I realize exactly what Bill Turkel has been telling us from day one: if we are to control the increasingly convergent paths our lives and technology take, and if humanists are to take a seat at the table in determining where that path is heading, we need to understand technology. We need to understand humans, too, but that is an understanding well on its way.

I do not want computers to run the earth, but I recognize that technology is here to stay. Therefore, we need to understand it in order to prevent scenarios like Terminator from occurring (I know, I know. It’s just a movie).

I like the humanities because, like all of you reading this blog, I am human. And I like humans. I think that digital technologies have the power and ability to help people. Whatever we do with digital technologies ought to, in my mind, be guided by what is good for the universe, and consequently, humans. To that end, I really like a quote from one of our readings by Jaron Lanier:

“The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we're devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.” JL

The value is in the people. What a simple and brilliant observation.

1 comment:

RANDI said...

Hello!
I am a representative for Don't Tread On Me Radio Show, hosted by Big John Lipscomb. We are currently in the process of scheduling possible future guest interviews. Don't Tread On Me is broadcast on Rense.com a Jeff Rense Network.

You can visit our website at DontTreadOnMe.tv to look over Big John's Life Philosophy and also listen to a few of our older broadcast.

If it is alternative, we talk about it! I think an interview with Big John would be of great interest to our listeners! Both you and Big John have several ideas in common. If you would be interested in a possible interview you can contact me, the show manager at ThruTheLens06@gmail.com.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Randi B.