The Ghost in the Internet

The Ghost in the Net

However much contemporary scientific research as well as technology have disappointed their intrinsic opportunities, they have instructed the human race a minimum of one lesson: Nothing is impossible.
Today, the destruction of the internal life is symbolized by the truth that the only place spiritual from disturbance is the exclusive commode.
By his extremely success in inventing laboursaving tools, modern-day guy has made an abyss of dullness that only the fortunate courses in earlier people have ever before fathomed.
For many Americans, progression indicates approving what is brand-new due to the fact that it is brand-new, as well as discarding what is old because it is old.
I would pass away delighted if I recognized that on my tombstone might be composed these words, “This guy was an absolute fool. None of the disastrous things that he hesitantly forecasted ever occurred!”
Lewis Mumford (1895-1990).
Beloved Sam,.
We begin our series on terrific personalities of the 20th century with Lewis Mumford. Naturally, this is just a justification to develop our very own suggestions. Those who are interested in the ideas of “our” characters can go to the local book shop and read directly develop the water fountain. Anyhow, for those who are not familiarized with Mumford, I will draw a short biography.
Lewis Mumford was born in 1895 (the very same year X-rays were discovered by Roentgen as well as the Dreyfus affair was an additional significant “success”). Mumford began his occupation in the United States License Workplace (overseeing “cement and concrete”), which offered him a first person understanding into technical development processes. Later on he reached his late master Patrick Geddes (and other excellent thinkers like Victor Branford). These experiences converted him into a generalist. His composing occupation prolonged over 6 years in which he made substantial contributions to the literary works of background, ideology, art, and also architectural objection. Maybe best known for his service metropolitan planning and also the research study of modern technology, Mumford was co-founder of the Regional Planning Association of America and, for 32 years, created the “Skies Line” column on design for the New Yorker. He offered on the faculties of numerous institutions, including Stanford university, the College of Pennsylvania, as well as MIT, as well as was selected to the New York City Board of Higher Education. He received several awards, as the National Medal for Literature as well as The National Medal for the Arts.
His initial literary job was “The Story of Utopias”, which advanced one of the significant themes of his life: the optimistic (technological) literature and also its effect on human growth. After a few other minor works (that included a beautiful book on Herman Melville, 1929), he released his very first excellent opus, “Technics and Civilization (1934 )”, among the initial historical works on innovation. It was also integrated in the curricula of technical institutes, like Cal tech, the very first technical university to have a historic course. This publication was, though with some doubts, technologically oriented. After the battle, his viewpoint, regarding this along with other issues, altered rather. In 1938 he presented “The Society of Cities”, the first job relating to the various other leitmotif of his life: urbanism and style. In the forties as well as fifties, Mumford produced sevearl deal with the “human problem”, peace of mind, city advancement as well as arts. In 1961 showed up another major job of his, “The city in History”, a full survey of the city and also its cycles.
In the “definitive years”, throughout the sixties, Mumford wrote, in our humble viewpoint, his significant work: “The Myth of the Equipment”. It was partly based upon the ideas of Oswald Spengler as improved by Alfred Toynbee, and also, distilling nearly sixty years of investigation, Lewis Mumford brings to a head his extreme alterations of the stagnant prominent conceptions of human as well as technological development. “The Misconception” is a totally created historic explanation of the impracticalities that have threatened the greatest accomplishments of contemporary technology – rate, automation, automation, instantaneous communication, and remote. These have undoubtedly brought about contamination, waste, eco-friendly disruption and also human extermination. As well as he makes a contrast – component historical and also component artistic – between the state machine of the Pyramid Age as well as the global cybernetic techno-machine of our “odd days” (the Government of Power).
As the generalist work of Mumford covers almost all fields of expertise, I recommend to you to focus our dialogue on the trouble of technology and life (with some link to his other major area: urbanism). Indeed, this is a warm topic nowadays (the “crazy cow disease” problem).
Highlights of this style are:.
Mumford discussion of cybernetics and the “automation of automation” (Wiener).
Mumford’s polemics with McLuhan as well as the audio-visual people – a humbug, in LM words.
And specifically, his proposition to transform the real mega-technology into the life plenitude of natural polytechnology – anticipating the ecological views of today.
As you are interested in technological media (i.e. your essay online), right here is a descent on courtesy Mr. Mumford:.
” … It is to change human freedom in every kind by an updated digital model of the megamachine. The electronic media, he shows, are ‘place out before they are thought out’. Actually, ‘their being produced tends to terminate the opportunity of their being thought out at all”. Exactly. Here McLuhan provides the entire show away. Due to the fact that every technical apparatus is an expansion of male ´ s physical organs, including his brain, this outer structure, by Mcluhan ´ s analysis, must, by its actual mass as well as ubiquity, change all independent needs or desires: considering that now for us ‘modern technology is a part our bodies’, no detachment or separation is feasible. ‘As soon as we have surrendered our senses and also nerve systems to the exclusive manipulations of those that would try to take advantage of taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we put on ´ t really have any kind of civil liberties (check out freedom) left’ “.
” This last factor could well be taken as a warning to disengage ourselves, immediately, from the power system so menacingly defined: for McLuhan it leads, rather, to a demand for genuine surrender. ‘Under electric innovation’, he observes, ‘the entire business of guy becomes understanding and also knowing’. Aside from the truth that this is a pathetically scholastic image of the potentialities of male, the kind of understanding as well as recognizing that McLuhan ends up being allured over is exactly that which can be configured on a computer: ‘We are now in position …’, he observes, ‘to transfer the entire program to the memory of a computer system’. No much better formula might be located for jailing and also ultimately subduing human growth …”.
Well, this is my opening movement, Your turn, Mr. Vaknin.
Dear RCM,.
Good to restore our discussions. I will obtain straight to the point, or, rather, to the points. I mean to handle each and also every one of them thoroughly – yet, as is our practice, I am simply mapping the territory.
1. Is it purposeful to go over modern technology different from life, as opposed to life, or compared to life? Is it not the inescapable item of life, a factor of life as well as component of its interpretation? Francis Bacon and also, centuries later on, the visionary Ernst Kapp, idea of innovation as a means to overcome and master nature – an expression of the timeless duality between onlooker and also observed. But there might be other ways of taking a look at it (consider, for circumstances, the influential job of Friedrich Dessauer). Kapp was the very first to broach technology as “body organ projection” (coming before McLuhan by more than a century). Freud wrote in “Civilization and its Discontents”: “Guy has, as it were, come to be a type of prosthetic god. When he places on all his auxiliary organs he is really magnificent; but those body organs have actually not grown on to him and also they still give him much difficulty sometimes.”.
2. On the whole, has modern technology contributed to human advancement or detained it?
3. Also if we approve that modern technology is alien to life, an international implant and also a possible threat – what context can fit the brand-new merging in between life as well as innovation (mainly clinical technology and biotechnology)? What are cyborgs – life or technology? What regarding clones? Synthetic implants? Life sustaining gadgets (like heart-kidney devices)? Future implants of contribute human brains? Designer children, tailored to specs by hereditary engineering? What about EXPERT SYSTEM?
4. Is modern technology IN-human or A-human? To put it simply, are the primary, immutable and also dominant qualities of modern technology alien to human beings, to the human spirit, or to the human mind? Is this feasible whatsoever? Is such non-human technology likely to be established by expert system devices in the future? Ultimately, is this kind of technology instantly ANTI-human too? Mumford’s category of all technologies to polytechnic (human-friendly) and also monotechnic (human averse) come to mind.
5. Is the effect innovation has on the INDIVIDUAL necessarily identical or even equivalent to the influence it has on human collectives as well as cultures? Believe Net – the solution in this case is clearly UNFAVORABLE.
6. Is it possible to specify what is technology whatsoever?
If we take on Monsma’s interpretation of technology (1986) as “the methodical treatment of an art” – is art to be treated as a variation of modern technology? Robert Merton’s interpretation is a non-definition because it is so broad it encompasses all teleological human actions: “any complicated of standard means for achieving a predetermined outcome”. Jacques Ellul resorted to tautology: “the completeness of techniques.
rationally gotten to as well as having outright effectiveness in every area of human activity” (1964 ). H.D. Lasswell (whose job is generally media-related) proffered an operative meaning: “the set of methods whereby one utilizes readily available resources to accomplish certain valued ends”. It is clear just how vague and also indefensible these interpretations are.
7. Making use of innovation includes options and the exercise of free choice. Does modern technology enhance our capability to exercise totally free will – or does it diminish it? Is there a fundamental as well as insolvable opposition in between modern technology as well as ethical as well as ethical percepts? Put much more merely: is technology naturally underhanded and also unethical or a-moral? If so, is it fatalistic, or deterministic, as Thurstein Veblen recommended (in “Engineers as well as the Rate System”)? To rephrase the inquiry; does technology IDENTIFY our selections and actions? Does it CONSTRICT our possibilities as well as LIMIT our potentials? We are all familiarized with utopias (and also dystopias) based upon technical breakthroughs (simply remember the millenarian fervour with which power, the telegraph, trains, the radio, tv as well as the Web were welcomed). Modern technology seems to form societies, societies, ideals and expectations. It is an ACTIVE participant in social characteristics. This is the significance of Mumford’s “megamachine”, the “rigid, hierarchical social organization”. Contrast this with Dessauer’s view of innovation as a kind of moral as well as visual statement or doing, a direct means of interacting with things-in-themselves. The latter’s views put innovation nicely in the Kantian framework of specific imperatives.
8. Is technology By Itself neutral? Can the undeniable harm triggered by innovation be triggered, as McLuhan placed it, by HUMAN mis-use and misuse:” [It] is not that there is anything good or bad about [modern technology] yet that unconsciousness of the effect of any force is a catastrophe, particularly a force that we have made ourselves”. If so, why blame innovation as well as exonerate ourselves? Displacing the blame is a classic mental protection mechanism yet it leads to deadly behavioral strengths and pathological thinking.
Sam.