Luddites & Tech 101


An appreciation for Howard Rheingolds  Technology 101.
In HowardRheingolds brief article: Technology 101: What Do We Need To Know About The Future We’re Creating? He poses the question are we eyes wide shut? To quote Kubrick. Or are we awake and conscious of the world we are making? He references an old Sufi adage, which asks are we asleep in life’s waiting room? I have often wondered the same thing, many times feeling as if I was about to emerge from this chrysalis and fly somewhere new only to find myself still here.  So as I am here this leads me back to Rheingolds musings on digital, pedagogy and future proofing our future.

Rheingold tells the story of the human scientifically driven technological progress through his personal lens i.e a committed technophile and child of the second half of the 20th century, witnessing rapid advances in same. He juxtaposes the idea of unfettered technological advance and their benefits to mankind with a text taking on an almost biblical metaphor of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There are echoes of Prometheus and Mary Shelley coming through the text and finally, this idea settles down,  plainly revealing itself in the last few pages.

As science becomes the new religion be not afraid Rheingold urges, yet at the same time, one is cautioned to be ever vigilant of our own blindness or naivety. He seems to acknowledge and concur with the environmentalist movements and the role they have set themselves in alerting us to the folly of our ways. In London in the late nineteenth century, a high-level meeting of elites was convened to find a solution to the huge amount of horse manure being created in the city streets. This was at the height of the Empires economic power and the Empires capital city was drowning in dung. A few years later the internal combustion engine took over from the horse and all was well. People seem to have been lucky with regard to new technologies in the past.

Rheingold seems to think we may now run out of luck. He also hints at the lack of a spiritual narrative around such fast technological progress, and even seems to ponder is it possible to address this at all . The introduction of the Demiurge was a two sided blade and is deliberately wielded to good effect. The introduction of Faust seems to verify his thesis that we need to thread with care. He does not despair however but encourages humankind again to expand our critical faculties to accommodate the new realities that await us. – Paul Maher