Luddites and Neo-luddites

Kotliar (viomar@ATHENS.NET)
Sun, 28 Jan 1996 12:23:09 -0400

Gregory has raised some issues that I would like to respond to.

Is modern technology a threat to human's basic morals?
*Modern technology is not some amorphous mass that can really be discussed
collectively. Which items specifically threaten you and why? Is it
technology that threatens those values you regard as basic human morals or
individuals and groups that have values diametricly opposed to those that
you treasure? I expect you will get a lot of tangent responses about the
existence of "basic" human values. I like to pretend ther are such things
even if it is a comforting conceit.

Is it
degrading people socially? Interpersonally??
* Do you mean computers and internet- i have found them to be highly
social enterprises, the only trouble is that the manners on the internet
tend to be a bit coarse for my taste (that latest feud between Ruby and her
detractors for example), but I find that true in the soiciety at large.

I've learned from arguing with friends that a great many things can come out
of new technological advances. But when I look into the social aspect of it
all and watch the needs and comforts of humans today and compare them to
yesterday, I find a dark future.
* I think you over glamorize the past. What yesterday are you
talking about and what social stratum. Do you refer to the yesterday of
the Robber baron America? Czarist Russia? The Ottoman Empire? Ming China?
Feudal Europe? The Pleistocene?. There have been losses and their have
been gains. Whether the net sum has been good or bad depends whether you
value the gains more than the losses. Personally I regard the chief
threats in the modern world I think are overpopulation (which cheapens and
devalues labor and human life), disease (lowers quality of life, and
threatens life), and polution (which lowers the quality of life, and
threatens life). These problems have been cyclical and endemic in large
parts of the world for centuries, and now are universal. Technologies may
contribute to these problems or help relieve them. The question is to
judge a particular technology by both its positive and negative elements.
One kind of "technology" that has fundamental effects are technologies of
economic and social organization. Such system impact on the adoption of
other technologies. Certainly industrialization (now centuries old) has
produced many blessings and many problems. The question is not how do we
go back-but how do we go forward.

What the hell is going on? Should I be in fear?
It is a matter of philosophy are you at heart a pesimist or an optimist.
Do you wish to simply accept the world as it is and as its going (a merely
complain), or do you wish to at least make a stab at changing the future
for the better even though the task seems monumental. Personally I feel
that one should always be concerned about the future, but fear? Fear,
IMHO, obscures rather than clarifies.

Jay Kotliar
Sacred cows make the best hamburger. -- Mark Twain *****