technology is neutral

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kalabine
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Mar 9 2005 12:22
technology is neutral

surely people can see that "technology" as a whole is neutral, obviously chemical and nuclear weapons are bad, but don't people think that hi tech stuff, computers, ipods, and flatscreen tellies would all have a place in a libertarian society, they would probably be less disposable and wasteful - but why would people not want them?

i like sitting round a camp fire singing about the spanish civil war as much as the next man, but not 7 nights a week - in a libertarian society i want to be able to download mp3s and watch films with cool cgi fx, and to talk shit on internet messageboards

i want a freezer and a microwave (at least access to them, i don't demand my own) etc

Garner
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Mar 9 2005 13:05

I'd agree that technology as a whole is neutral, although particular technologies aren't, since they're designed with specific purposes in mind.

LiveFastDiarrea
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Mar 9 2005 13:16
kalabine wrote:

i want a freezer and a microwave (at least access to them, i don't demand my own) etc

have you seen all the dumps of fridge freezers? theres mountains of em, you can have 6 I reckon.

Crypt
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Mar 9 2005 13:39

The problem we have with technology is that it's designed and built by large corparations and governments, they decide which research gets funded to a large extent and they employ all the top scientists to work on thier projects, so the development of technology is definately not nuteral. Thats why nuclear weapons and shit like that get developed while cures for deseases like cancer have to be funded by charities.

I see projects like open source software as a good method of developing new technologies, unfortunately you couldn't really apply the same methods of research to something like medical research because of the equipment and procedures needed to develop new drugs, if theres a bug in software, it's easily fixed, if theres a bug in a new drug then people will die. I think after a revolution open source development style will spread and be funded and will become the main method of developing new technology, and then technology will be nuteral

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 9 2005 13:58

'Technology' clearly isn't neutral. Even in the opening post, kalabine mentioned several examples of inherantly crappy developments. But what's more important is not the machine debate, but the point that technology doesn't exist outside of social relationships -- that in fact, 'technology' is usually the manifestation of a particular set of realtions.

I think the whole 'technology' debate is problematic. Like the 'violence' debate, it sets up fake sides. No one is really totally pacifist or 'pro technology', anyway? Most people support self defence and most peope think that nukes are bad.

:greenblackstar:

Dig tunnels! Store grain!

:red:

phoebe
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Mar 9 2005 14:00

Technophiles aren't neutral, but technology is just an extension of the opposable thumb.

kalabine
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Mar 9 2005 14:02
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
'Technology' clearly isn't neutral. Even in the opening post, kalabine mentioned several examples of inherantly crappy developments. But what's more important is not the machine debate, but the point that technology doesn't exist outside of social relationships -- that in fact, 'technology' is usually the manifestation of a particular set of realtions.

what's wrong with widescreen tellies or mp3 players, or CGI fx though? - if it's simply because they are produced wastefully well lets change the methods of production and distrobution then

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 9 2005 14:03

Gunna move this to thought if no one objects cos i dont see the point of it being in here!

phoebe
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Mar 9 2005 14:27
kalabine wrote:
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
'Technology' clearly isn't neutral. Even in the opening post, kalabine mentioned several examples of inherantly crappy developments. But what's more important is not the machine debate, but the point that technology doesn't exist outside of social relationships -- that in fact, 'technology' is usually the manifestation of a particular set of realtions.

what's wrong with widescreen tellies or mp3 players, or CGI fx though? - if it's simply because they are produced wastefully well lets change the methods of production and distrobution then

The fact is that a lot of the stuff you mentioned is produced in a cycle to encourage people to discard old stuff and buy new when they don't really need anything newer or faster and this leads to a lot of scrap hardware which is quite a big environmental problem and has nothing to do with the methods of production and distribution and quite a lot to do with social trends created by marketing and advertising.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 9 2005 14:42
kalabine wrote:
what's wrong with widescreen tellies or mp3 players, or CGI fx though? - if it's simply because they are produced wastefully well lets change the methods of production and distrobution then

If you're going to have those things in a communist society I think you're going to have far far fewer of them. Without cheap raw materials from the former-colinial world and cheap labour in the same than many of the components for those products will not be able to be made in such vast quantities.

I think any communist society would be 'primitivist' by default, since no one is going to want to do dangerous, harmful labour -- such as putting together the very toxic components for computer chips that Intel gets done in India. Or even smelting steel, etc. Who's going to want to do that? If everyone who wanted an MP3 player had to take part in making it -- or know that friends and comrades far away were doing so -- then I think there's be far fewer made.

That's unless we're talking about a society where there's a certain amount of forced labour in order to meet consumption -- which isn't communism, to me.

I think we'll find enjoyment in many other things in order to make up for it, and every community or every street would probably have a big video projector -- but like Phoebe said, the automatic right to consume these toys will not be around any more

Crypt
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Mar 9 2005 14:47

I think your definately right about the enviromental impact of these devices, but I don't think it's the device itself that is to blame, more the culture of people always wanting to throw away the old device and get a new, better one. I think this is what would go away in a comunist type society more than the actual need for the device itself. If this would happen then less would have to be made in the first place

Garner
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Mar 9 2005 15:58
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
'Technology' clearly isn't neutral. Even in the opening post, kalabine mentioned several examples of inherantly crappy developments. But what's more important is not the machine debate, but the point that technology doesn't exist outside of social relationships -- that in fact, 'technology' is usually the manifestation of a particular set of realtions.

I think the whole 'technology' debate is problematic. Like the 'violence' debate, it sets up fake sides. No one is really totally pacifist or 'pro technology', anyway? Most people support self defence and most peope think that nukes are bad.

As with violence, I don't think it's particularly useful to talk about technology as a single monolithic entity. As I said before, it's specific technologies, in the context of the social relationships in which they exist, that aren't neutral, rather than 'technology' as a whole.

As Crypt and phoebe point out, alter the social relationship and you alter the impact of the technology. It's the social relationship that's the important bit.

phoebe
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Mar 9 2005 16:00

On the other hand, it's nice having discarded computers for between nothing and not very much. But then that'd happen under commieism anyway.

As far as consumption of toys I think that's something that's going to change. Essentially what is happening these days with technology (at least with computers, similar things are happening elsewhere but the simplest situation to talk about is computers) is that operating systems, applications, games etc are being made more and more bloated in order to force people to use bigger and faster hardware. There's no real reason for this at all. Word XP does pretty much the same thing as Word 97 did. I don't personally know anyone who uses all the extra macro/whatever functionality built into newer versions. As far as games go, you end up being able to see people's bodies being ripped apart in more and more realistic ways but the quality of gameplay and ideas behind the game aren't really getting any better. Users are just being sold a nicer veneer. With things like "Disney, the operating system" WinXP, you're not even getting a nice veneer. iPods don't do much that walkmans didn't but they look cool. Most of what you're buying when you "upgrade" (that is shove your old but still useful technology on an ever-growing pile of industrial waste and buy something new) is really just the packaging and marketing. You can play DVDs with a 466MHz CPU but salespeople in PC World will have you know that you need at least 700MHz to 1 GHz. It's all a pile of crap designed to get you to buy more stuff (and I'm really pro-technology).

That kinda stuff will probably happen a lot less under communism. Technology will likely be looked at in terms of whether it's useful or not rather than how cool it will be to show your mates and what it's social value is in terms of conspicuous consumption.

kalabine
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Mar 9 2005 16:39
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
kalabine wrote:
what's wrong with widescreen tellies or mp3 players, or CGI fx though? - if it's simply because they are produced wastefully well lets change the methods of production and distrobution then

If you're going to have those things in a communist society I think you're going to have far far fewer of them. Without cheap raw materials from the former-colinial world and cheap labour in the same than many of the components for those products will not be able to be made in such vast quantities.

I think any communist society would be 'primitivist' by default, since no one is going to want to do dangerous, harmful labour -- such as putting together the very toxic components for computer chips that Intel gets done in India. Or even smelting steel, etc. Who's going to want to do that? If everyone who wanted an MP3 player had to take part in making it -- or know that friends and comrades far away were doing so -- then I think there's be far fewer made.

fewer made, but that doesnt mean they wouldnt be made - if enough people wanted them they would get made - not having forced labour would simply mean that innovaters would have to look at other methods to build items that currently require dangerous components - i certainly think that upgrades would happen less (as half of them are unnesersary) and that people would be more likely to share stuff wherever possible

as a species though we are obviously into innovation and invention technological development wouldnt and shouldnt stop but simply go in a more sustainable and useful direction than it currently does

ffaker
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Mar 9 2005 16:57

As a radical techie, I agree most of your post. As a geek I just have to anally point out some factual flaws (as well as agree with good points).

phoebe wrote:
is that operating systems, applications, games etc are being made more and more bloated in order to force people to use bigger and faster hardware.

Very true. It still happens with Free (libre) software, but to a far lesser extent. Sometimes newer versions are even smaller! What you say about upgrades is true too - most are not needed or are rushed out before they are ready for market reasons. Look at the Debian distro. of GNU/Linux: on paper they are only on version 3.0, but they are far more advanced than commercial distros like Redhat, because they don't release until *it's ready* (you can allways track the more up to date unstable release if you want to).

phoebe wrote:
As far as games go, you end up being able to see people's bodies being ripped apart in more and more realistic ways but the quality of gameplay and ideas behind the game aren't really getting any better.

Hm... Well, quality of gamplay is a subjective experience, but that is pretty hard to argue I think. Halo 2. vs. Doom anyone?

phoebe wrote:
Users are just being sold a nicer veneer. With things like "Disney, the operating system" WinXP, you're not even getting a nice veneer.

grin lol

phoebe wrote:
iPods don't do much that walkmans didn't but they look cool.

Urm. Walkmans could not store your entire music collection and still have room to transport large computer files. That is a substantive, usefull difference. I agree that iPods are for fashion victims though - there are much better players out there for less money (they don't look as nice though).

phoebe wrote:
You can play DVDs with a 466MHz CPU

Barely.

phoebe wrote:
but salespeople in PC World will have you know that you need at least 700MHz to 1 GHz.

Heh. You're behind the times! You'd be hard pressed to even find a 1Ghz desktop machine for sale in PC World these days. But you are right. The salesmen (and they are almost always men) in PC world are CLUELESS BASTARDS. They know how to sell stuff but they know bugger all about tech stuff. I know, because I worked there in the tech dept. a few years back.

phoebe wrote:
Technology will likely be looked at in terms of whether it's useful or not rather than how cool it will be to show your mates and what it's social value is in terms of conspicuous consumption.

Boy, I hope so.

www.hacklab.org.uk

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 9 2005 17:00
kalabine wrote:
as a species though we are obviously into innovation and invention technological development wouldnt and shouldnt stop but simply go in a more sustainable and useful direction than it currently does

Yeah -- this is why I don't like the pro/anti technology divide, since you can call what we've been doing over the past 10,000 years as developing technology e.g. selective breeding of plants. What is a problem are patterns of social control -- that are often embodied in specific appliances that are themselves manifestations of the problem.

AnarchoAl
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Mar 9 2005 17:04

On the subject of dangerous jobs, I think it'll be interesting to see what we can do with automation in a free society. Most automation thus far has had greater control over workers and deskilling as a primary aim, but with direct dmeocracy presumably we'd focus on automating away the jobs nobody wanted to do. Of course if we can't save the economy's energy base then we will end up in primitivism.

asa- nice to see another anarcho-geek here 0) You mentioned Debian, but for desktop usaer's I'd reccomend Ubuntu, which is branched from Debian unstable and focussed on delivering an easy-to-use desktop experience.

kalabine
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Mar 9 2005 17:06
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
that are often embodied in specific appliances that are themselves manifestations of the problem.

any examples? confused

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 9 2005 17:08
AnarchoAl wrote:
Of course if we can't save the economy's energy base then we will end up in primitivism.

How will we save the economy's energy base? Do you think wave and wind can provide all we'll need?

AnarchoAl
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Mar 9 2005 17:14
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
AnarchoAl wrote:
Of course if we can't save the economy's energy base then we will end up in primitivism.

How will we save the economy's energy base? Do you think wave and wind can provide all we'll need?

Well, that's a complex question. Wind, wave, and solar will all undoubtedly be part of the solution. Photovoltaic panels suck, but the Spanish have this solar plant now where they just focus sunlight to boil a tank of water and drive a steam turbine.

I'm not willing to rule out fission or fusion as potentially necessary over the short term to avoid mega-deaths*. Greater energy efficiency will also be vital. Unfortunately, it's looking like it will be capitalists and not the people of the world who hold the power at the critical time for solving these problems. I think humanity will pull thorugh it, but I expect lots of people in countries with cash-crop economies to starve sad

*or worse, Metallicas and AC/DCs. Sorry. tongue

Harmonic_Distortion
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Mar 9 2005 19:55
Quote:
How will we save the economy's energy base? Do you think wave and wind can provide all we'll need?

Nope make things far more energy efficient - do same job and require a fraction of the old stuff needed. As an easy example we used to have 20watt (running from 12Volts) incandescent bulbs to light up a stair well (Health and safety) at work recently I built a little chain of ultra-bright LEDS that were left over from a project. Ended up lighting up the stairwell fa better and using less than a watt!

As for technology the main thing is that present mass manufactured stuff is not really designed with future upgradability/repairability at the component level in mind - it all tends to be pull out an entire board put in another one and thats on items designed to be repaired things like walkmans you aint got a chance and have to chuck it. This is fucked up since it might be a simple component that has died which would cause minimal ecologic and economic damge to replace instead of chucking the whole fuckign board/machine away!

Recently I had to do a repair on a system that had been first built in 1959!! Nothing built today comes close to how fantastically that thing was built. When I opened it up EVERYTHING in it made sense even though it was using technology that was obsolete years before I was born. It took me 15 minutes to find and repair the fault - the repair consisted of re winding a transformer - basically we are talkign a few grams of copper needed and that will hopefully keep the kit going for many more years.

Why don't we build like that now? Easy to repair and very reliable - would make sense in an ecologic way .. bring on anarchism and electronics will be fun again

HD

LiveFastDiarrea
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Mar 9 2005 20:05
Jack wrote:

I was saving that for later, you fuck!

smile.

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 9 2005 21:10
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
AnarchoAl wrote:
Of course if we can't save the economy's energy base then we will end up in primitivism.

How will we save the economy's energy base? Do you think wave and wind can provide all we'll need?

with solar power then obviously yes

Crypt
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Mar 10 2005 09:38

Yeh, good idea, but I actually know some half decent australians, any chance we could replace Australia with America? that would be a damn good improvement

(for no other reason that blindly hateing america - damn i'm such a stereotype sad )

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 10 2005 10:46
kalabine wrote:
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
that are often embodied in specific appliances that are themselves manifestations of the problem.

any examples? confused

Sorry -- I missed this one.

Cars only exist in their current form due to the commuter society. And the commuter society is only about to exist in its current for because of access to cars. Without the context of getting to work the internal combustion engine would be much rarer; probably only used by park rangers and mobility buses in rural areas.

Another example that springs to mind is containerisation -- but you probably know much more about this than me. AFAIK it makes the process of shipping much more 'efficient' but also works to deskill the dockers and make goods packaged further upstream, thus also getting rid of the customary 'tax' that loaders, mudlarks, etc used to get from the docks. So the big metal containers are technology, but they're developed because of a desire by the companies to control people.

phoebe
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Mar 10 2005 11:23
asa wrote:
phoebe wrote:
As far as games go, you end up being able to see people's bodies being ripped apart in more and more realistic ways but the quality of gameplay and ideas behind the game aren't really getting any better.

Hm... Well, quality of gamplay is a subjective experience, but that is pretty hard to argue I think. Halo 2. vs. Doom anyone?

Yeah, but FPSs are lame anyway (by which I mean, they're all pretty much the same and people seem to have stopped coming up with new ideas for games and the focus is just on increasing the level of "realism" to make up for the lack of imagination on the part of game developers). Telnet MUDs forever.

asa wrote:
phoebe wrote:
You can play DVDs with a 466MHz CPU

Barely.

Um.. although xine/gxine etc absolutely suck, mplayer and ogle both play DVDs fine on my computer although they play DivX/XviDs smoother (466 Celeron, 256Mb RAM, 3Gb hard disk, currently running Slackware 10.0 with the 2.6 kernel although I'm considering changing it back, £25 courtesy of Bromley College, DVD-ROM given to me for free by someone who was upgrading).

Quote:
Heh. You're behind the times! You'd be hard pressed to even find a 1Ghz desktop machine for sale in PC World these days.

Yeah I know. Doesn't bother me. I can do plenty on cheap/free 2nd hand gear these days (my only real problems are with hard-disk size because I need a lot of development stuff for coding, I can run various stuff which would normaly be considered "high-end" like Blender3d etc with few or no problems), which is fine by me.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 10 2005 12:42

Here's something from the French. Love the way continental activists can get away with using terms like 'obscurantist'

"To cut short on all sorts of silly accusations that are frequently made to criticisms of technological development…let us state clearly that we are neither obscurantists nor

« against science »…in this social context, potential consequences and benefits drawn by research can't be debated nor controlled by the populations. Until now, this research consists only in furnishing new power instruments, gimmicks to be sold by those who fund them and naturally expect to make huge and immediate profit out of them. On the other hand, technologies such as nuclear or nanotechnologies are not neutral: they imply such degrees of specialization, power and money accumulation that they constitute an essential part of a centralised authoritarian and militarised society model, liable to protect them."

French anti nanotech action December 04 press release

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/12/302727.html

ffaker
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Mar 10 2005 13:45
phoebe wrote:
Yeah, but FPSs are lame anyway... Telnet MUDs forever.

Lol. Fair enough, but I like them smile

phoebe wrote:
Um.. although xine/gxine etc absolutely suck, mplayer and ogle both play DVDs fine on my computer although they play DivX/XviDs smoother (466 Celeron, 256Mb RAM, 3Gb hard disk, currently running Slackware 10.0 with the 2.6 kernel

I'm doing something wrong with my 500MHz 192 MB Debian unstable kernel 2.6 machine then because it clunks along with DivX and XviD. Wots wrong with Xine? I like it.

phoebe
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Mar 10 2005 14:19

xine is ugly and un-Unix (fuck, I sound like McCarthy). It's GUI-ness is ugly and unnecessary, it has really messy ways of handling configuration. gmplayer is way better if you really desparately need a graphical ui for your DVD watching. Apart from that xine is also ridiculously buggy, whereas ogle and mplayer are totally sweet.

I don't know enough about Debian to comment on that, although I dislike distros which lean towards packaging systems in general.

AnarchoAl
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Mar 10 2005 14:45

Woo, phoebe's a geek too? o)

Soon, the geek vangaurd shall have the rest of you running linux... oh yes... )

rb blackbloc rb

phoebe
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Mar 10 2005 14:48
AnarchoAl wrote:
Woo, phoebe's a geek too? surprised)

Soon, the geek vangaurd shall have the rest of you running linux... oh yes... smile

red n black star black bloc red n black star

I do maths. It goes with the territory (I have a book on unsolved problems in algebraic number theory in front of me right now).

Apart from which, of course I'm a geek, my pedantry and flipping out about really insignificant issues show clear signs that I carry the nerd gene.