So, I’m a Technoskeptic?

It seems perhaps contradictory, at least at first. I’m a geek, a user of GNU/Linux, a programmer, a gamer, I think AI has potential, I believe virtual worlds can have a beneficial use.

All that, and a Technoskeptic? Hear me out….

Our technologies have done wonderful things for us, better quality of life and longer lives are ours. Thanks to our technologies, we can communicate over huge distances and do things that in previous centuries would have been thought Witchcraft. Any sufficiently advanced technology is not only indistinguishable from magic, it’s become the norm. Without these technologies our lives would be poorer, indeed many of us would not even have survived childhood or would be crippled and sickly.

Our technologies have freed us from a huge amount of drudgery and disease, and they’ve enabled new careers and new industries that have never existed before in Human history. Jobs undreamed of even 30 years ago are a reality today, previous generations read science fiction but those alive today are living it.

So why a Technoskeptic? Let’s pause for a minute. Firstly, a Technoskeptic is neither a Technophobe, nor a Luddite. It seems to me that we’re expected to hold a binary position, either all for or all against; a more nuanced position is harder to deal with, and in these fractured times it seems that binary extremism is the done thing. That middle ground is just where you’ll find this Technoskeptic, neither all for or all against, but advocating for care, consideration, and caution.

I watch technology marching forward at a fast pace, advancing at Double Time into the future. The new advancements are marketed hard; the must have items of a consumer society, the rapidly obsolete status symbols of the modern age. It seems that as fast as you buy something, it’s outdated; it may even have been yesterday’s tech before it was put out on the shelf.

We seem addicted to new tech, the designs make us more dependant on it; social media sites, game apps, they’re designed to capture our attention and keep us hooked. Constant marketing keeps us on the treadmill of upgrades, but are the constant incremental upgrades worth the price? The money we have comes at the cost of a slice of our time, which we can never get back. Is the latest shiny gadget, or social media meme worth that?

The course we are charting into the future seems to be badly thought out, a headlong rush into a future that only a minority of people seem to be thinking over in any details. As things get more complex, and they will keep doing that, who is really driving? How can one person, or a group of people, keep any sort of control of a global technological system this large and complex? In my view the answer is that they can’t, nobody is driving the vehicle as we careen into the future at a breakneck pace.

My view is that it’s better to question the worth of the constant advancements more, to ask myself harder to justify the things. Why do I need the latest smartphone? Do I really need to change my car this year? I think it’s better to slow down the pace here, get off the treadmill. The new versions usually only bring minimal benefits, so wait till the bang is worth the buck.

Moreover, I think it’s wise to stop and thing things through. The way my time is used, the direction I’m going in, my approach to how I use tech and the ones I prefer. I don’t have to agree that the latest shiny is an improvement in my view; I can consider it a step in the wrong direction. I am a person that will write manually, using pen and ink. It feels better and more real, real in a way that no tech has managed to get near.

So consciously use technology, stay skeptical, and don’t let it control you.





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