1/29/15-Rhodes-MMC4263-Assignment 3

In the second section of Culture + Technology, the authors present specific cases where the technological progress was not easily accepted. In chapter five, the audience is introduced to Luddism. The book suggests that, commonly, to practice Luddism means to be anti-progress and anti-machine; Luddites have been concluded by most as “fundamentally misguided.” The Luddism movement began in England in 18-11-1817 when skilled workers and artisans rejected the “major shift in the nature of capitalism, the changing role of workers in the development of industrialism, and the development of new technology.” The thought was that the livelihood of this group of workers was being threatened by technological progress and the “machines” might take away the human control over manufacturing and ultimately turn their traditional work environments into factories where they would basically be treated as slaves. Chaos erupted from this group as they attempted to defend their crafts and because the push for technological progress was so strong, laws were instituted that ended their ability to fight the change. The critique that is presented is that Luddites did not destroy and hate all machines, “but for the most part only those machines that embodied the offenses of the way of life they saw being forced on them.” This would suggest, as the author writes, that they simply wanted “industrial growth to be regulated according to ethical priorities and the pursuit of profit be subordinated to human needs.”

What can be learned from the Luddites is that there must be a balance of control and technology, which leads directly into chapter six’s discussion on appropriate technology (AT). AT is defined in the book as “a particular kind of technology that was considered appropriate to achieving certain goals.” This is a “basic needs” approach to technology that still values craftsmanship but culturally investigates how technological progress would benefit each specific area. One interesting example presented was that of E.F. Schumacher’s thoughts on experiences from Third World countries like Burma and India; Schumacher pointed out that these countries did not need technology to help them move forward, but complete workplace and market reform, which is very labor intensive and requires diligent problem solving and overhaul development.

I love the idea of utilizing the AT summarizing points on page 79, because it speaks to purposed balance and thoughtful implementation of technology. I think really understanding and regulating the world using the ideas of AT is ethical in the utilitarianism sense as it produces the greatest result for the greatest number of people.

Charlie Brown Unabomber

In the seventh chapter, the writer discusses the extreme case of the Unabomber. As the story goes, Ted Kaczynski was a child genius who saw the potential threat of technological progress as detrimental to the human race and then, as most genius’ do, he went crazy in an obsession over this ideology and eventually killed three men and injured multiple others with bombs sent in the mail to gain attention at communicate a message he was very very passionate about. The authors point out that many have resisted thoroughly investigating Kaczynski’s manifesto (published by the New York Times and the Washington Post as a bartering threat) because to read it would be to admit that this “insane” man has some valid points. Where the Unabomber horrifically fails to be logical and humane with his attempts at getting attention, he succeeds in vocalizing truths about  a serious concern that should not be ignored. The chapter concludes by saying that “we are not naïve in our faith in resistance, nor do we tout resistance as another inevitable feature of technological society.”  The author says that we need to separate the legitimate claims of Kaczynski from the disturbing actions he proposes, however, Kaczynski may argue that this is simply the view that “the machine” wants us to adopt. Hmmmm.


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