Trends in Technology to Consider

One of my interests in the philosophy of technology, which is part of a larger discipline called media ecology, initiated by Neil Postman. I offer the following to get you thinking about the effect of technology on culture and your body and soul.

Features of technology to ponder:

1. There is a trend toward miniaturization.Think of old radios and TV sets and computers. Think of mini-computers everywhere–and robots.

2. There is a trend toward mobility. Think of stationary TVs, telephones, and computers. Then consider video on smart phones, computers on smart phones, telephones on smart phones!

3. There is a trend toward unification and system. Clocks used to be stand-alone objects. The same goes for computers. But now some clocks are part of a satellite system. You do not have direct control because “they” have remote control.

4. There is a trend toward surveillance, which is closely related to point (3). You may get a traffic ticket issued on the basis of a monitor, not a human. They give you a photo of yourself while breaking the law. Parking lots are camera rich as well. Remember, Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon.

5. There is a trend toward the cyborg. People are wearing cell phones and access to the Internet. Some have monitors that record bodily functions that are relayed to external parties (computers, I mean) that give advice on how to be healthier. Now combine this trend toward cyborgization with (3) and (4) with the addition of ObamaCare. When the state controls medical means (which is the ultimate goal), then it will want accurate information on how the subjects (ah, I mean citizens) are managing their bodies. Think of 1984, except worse, because the power of surveillance is far beyond what Orwell imagined.

This is only a start. Now, Have a nice day. Can you add more trends? Please be serious.

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for Apologetics.com.

2 thoughts

  1. There is also a trend towards impersonalization. In the old days, bankers knew their customers by name and we conducted transactions in person. Now, we have identifying numbers, which we are asked FIRST, before our names, and transactions are conducted electronically whenever possible. Customers are discouraged from using cash or conducting transactions in person (albeit subtly). The machines we carry or have at home are supposed to calculate our transactions. People don’t do it themselves anymore. They trust the system.

  2. There is a trend toward the deputing of our rational agency to technology. GPS technology enables us to avoid the spatial reasoning involved in navigation. Medical technology enables the physician to treat the patient without engaging in medical reasoning to the degree of rigor required in the past. iPhones with the “Ask Siri” function enable a computer to provide us with information, thereby relieving us of the need to seek knowledge. Television and film technologies feed us ideas, thereby leaving us free to be passively entertained. The list goes on. This trend is both a deputing and an abdication of our rational agency.

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