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“Towards a new definition of technology”
Nowadays, technology has become ubiquitous and indispensable, an inherent part of all aspects of our everyday existence and virtually synonymous with the social view of modern life and progress. The proposed research is basically an attempt to explore various cultural, ethical and social conditions for technology to exercise certain influences on society, as well as its inevitable consequences on the individual in the modern industrial age.
We take into account four vital categories, namely culture, society and technology and environment. Throughout the whole analysis, we seek to address fundamental questions specific to the modern age and analyze the implications of the technologically profound changes exercised on modern life and the ethical issues associated with the development of new technologies.
We propose to start with some of the fundamental questions of our time: What is it like to be “modern”, where are the roots of our modern condition and consequently what is the actual role of technology in modern society? We aim to continue the work of Heidegger or Borgmann and their critical work in evaluating how technology, society and environment co-constitute each other and consequently interrogate our ongoing relationship with technology. Our life is essentially different in many ways from the lives of our predecessors, technology playing an increasing role in shaping our future and becoming one of the fundamental relationships between humans and reality.
A question about technology implies an interrogation about our own goals and future. Technology as a whole is a neutral notion and only people determine its immediate effects and its impact on human condition. Robotics, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence or nanotechnology will potentially shape and completely change the nature of human life itself.
We stress the benefits of technology for humanity but we also interrogate if technology and culture work in opposite directions. Technology manipulates our environment to meet human’s changing goals and needs.
Clearly, the present scientific revolution has led us to the question if progress is always ethically acceptable. We seek to proactively evaluate the established ethical relationship between technological advancement and its benefits for society, in a way of ‘disclosing the reality’ that lies behind technological devices and artefacts and explore the subsequent ethical factors emerged from technology development and scientific breakthrough.
We aim to offer a comprehensive diagnosis of technology’s larger societal, ethical and ecological consequences and its compatibility with the natural world, environment, sustainable communities and the free human spirit.
Answers to the urgent questions about the future of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, AI, and other new technologies can only be found in the context of a review of the past relationship between humans and technology.
Over the past century, we have witnessed technology slowly becoming an omnipresent reality for our society, permeating the vast majority of our public and private lives. Our homes, workplaces, transportation, food, energy, entertainment, leisure, education, and government have all become integral elements of the technological grid.
While our earliest ancestors lived fully in the natural milieu, and our most recent forebears in a more social milieu, modern man now lives primarily in what sociologist Jacques Ellul called a technological milieu. For us it is the technosphere, not nature or even other people, that is the source of our livelihood, food, energy, education, entertainment, and vision of progress.
For some at least, the substitution of technology for natural and social environments represents an immense improvement for humankind. Author and engineer Samuel Florman writes, “I can see no evidence that frequent contact with nature is essential to human well- being.” He goes on to say that technology has saved us from the “callous brutality, the unbelievable pain, the ever present threat of untimely death for oneself (and worse one’s children) which were the natural realities with which our ancestors lived.”
Moreover, even as the technosphere exploits and destroys the natural world, its inhuman pace exhausts our emotional and spiritual resources. This has led to an unprecedented shattering of our communities, families, and psychological well-being. The crisis over the technosphere’s destruction of the natural and social milieus has created an historic dilemma. Our society and much of the world’s population has become fully dependent on, and deeply addicted to, the technological environment. Yet this technological milieu is threatening the very viability of life on Earth—not to mention our own sanity. It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot survive with our technology, yet we can’t imagine living without it.
Our nuclear technology has put all of humanity, and the Earth itself, on a computer tripline to Armageddon. And our industrial technology has brought humanity face to face with the first truly global environmental crisis in recorded history. Over the last two decades the public has been jolted by revelations about the impacts of technology on the biosphere—global warming, ozone depletions, species extinction, deforestation, desertification.
Many look with scepticism and concern at the increasing role technology plays in their lives. force us to ask many important questions - questions about the role of technology and science, our relation to them, how they change us and how we change themenquire about change itself and about how individuals, societies or cultures can control changeOr perhaps we can adopt an ecological perspective - one which asks whether or not the term “adapt” should be substituted for “controlA theme that appears over and over in discussions about technology is whether or not technology is the cause of major social, cultural, political, and economic changes in modern society. Of course, we can find many, many examples of technologies associated with enormous social changes. Many people today assume automatically that technology is progress. , as we’re becoming aware of some of the unintended effects of technology, many people are starting to wonder if technology is always a good thing. Is technology better used as a tool for social and political progress, or is it instead an end in itself? Moreover, can technology cure all of our social and political problemsThe early notion of progress which saw technology as a mere means to more important ends provided natural limits, and a way of assessing particular pieces of technology. If, however, we view technology as an end in itself, we’re not led to ever question its value or place any limits on it. What are our goals? When we answer that question, we can see that technology does not automatically mean progress toward those goals
Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activityIt is useless to think that a distinction can be made between technique and its use, says Ellul, for techniques have specific social and psychological consequences independent of our desires. There can be no room for moral considerations in their use. “Not even the moral conversion of the technicians could make a difference. At best, they would cease to be good technicians.” In the end, technique has only one principle, “efficient ordering.” The characteristics of technique which serve to make efficiency a necessity are rationality, artificiality, automatism of technical choice, self-augmentation, monism, universalism, and autonomy. The rationality of technique enforces logical and mechanical organization through division of labor, the setting of production standard, etc. And it creates an artificial system which “eliminates or subordinates the natural worldNot only are we surrounded by technology, but our primary means of communication are mediated by technology.
we cannot live without our gadgets. At the same time, we are put at risk by our technology and its hazardous consequences. Instead of technology being subservient to humanity, “human beings have to adapt to it and accept total change”the power of the media as another example of technology exerting control over human destiny. As a mechanism of change, the media are too easily manipulated for the service of special interests. We are inundated with stories about biotechnology, nanotechnology, advanced computerization, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics,
cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, and myriad other “new” technologies. Predictably, the media stories have corporations and researchers heralding these new technologies as the dawn of a coming utopia of health
and wealth, and yes, perhaps even immortality itself.
The critics, however, warn of dire risks to the environment and the rending of our social fabric.