Technology and ValuesThe assertion that all technology has values needs little support but maybe some clarification. It is an almost universally agreed assumption of the philosophy of technology that technology has values. By values here we are meaning embedded assumptions, meanings etc. Clocks for example give a distinct value and meaning to a particular understanding of time.
Take these quotes from Schuurman (2013: ), as an example only because it is the latest thing I am reading.
"Neil Postman explains the non-neutrality of technology as follows ' embedded in every tool is an ideological bias, a predisposition to construct the world as one thing rather than another, to value one thing over another, to amplify one sense or skill or attitude more loudly over another'. Postman goes on. 'new technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts dvelop' ".
As Schuurman continues he points out Marshall McLuhan went even further with his claim that the technology not the content of the technology is the message.
Postman's analysis was itself non-neutral while the direction of the statements are largely beyond dispute, Postman was writing from a disposition of being largely negative and pessimistic regarding modern technology.
It is worthwhile to note here, as Schuurman does along with other writers, that the 'values' of technology are not always easy to discern and the rationale for developing the technology is not always in line with the values that emerge with the use of the technology.
Creation valuesHow, without taking the step of understanding the technologicalness of the natural world we have not quite understood our own technological history appropriately. If creation (the natural world) is technological, then logically we can analyse it using some of the same philosophical tools we apply to our own creations. This is a continuation of a blog series started here. I will repeat briefly that I can accept both creation and evolution as the process of that creation.
The created world has biases, particular constructions etc. It facilitates certain activities and hinders others. Our world does not allow us to float unaided for example.
What values can we see embedded in the technology itself:
- massive heterogeneity - multiple ways for achieving the same ends (seemingly)
- at times incredible complexity
- at times elegant simplicity
- virtually no waste - reuse, reduce, recycle
- scales across the micro to the planet wide
- creation is non-neutral it has a purpose it has values, it has meaning.
- If this world took billions of years - then your understanding of Yahweh is one which emphasises exuberance and joy in the process for creating. Why not wait millions of year to watch your designs change if time has a different meaning.
- Not all 'imperfections need be due to fall, creation being good does not have to mean 'perfect'
un-improveable as we understand that concept.
- This is a God in a hurray, its all perfect from the beginning no change no history, far less joy in the actual act of creating. The point is the end, lets get this messy in between period over quickly.
- All imperfections as we currently see them are due to our sin and the fall.
Christians have the important message that we are more than machines but I am beginning to think we as Christians need to see the machinery in creation as well as defending it as being the IP of someone else.