Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Ellul on Future Technology

I came across this the other day and I could not resist posting it.

 I came across a short reading excerpted from Technological Society in "The new technology and human values" 1969.  -

The first example of piece of technology of the future highlighted by Ellul is to do with Electronic information. Given everyone today has a smartphone the "prediction" is kinda funny.

Well we still haven't done away with the reading bit, however "everything will be received and registered according to the needs of the moment" does sound remarkably true of the present age. The refrain why do we have to "learn this stuff" when we have Google is a refrain to be heard on the lips of current preteen generation. What could not have been seen by anybody was the mass production of wrong or junk information making learning and thinking more important than every.

However, I do particularly like the line: What is needed will pass directly from the machine to the brain without going through consciousness - I think that is a perfect description of Facebook and Twitter.

I will now turn to the second of the two example on the same page. This time giving an image of the whole page for context.

"Natural reproduction will be forbidden" - taking up a similar thought to Aldous Huxley. What is troubling about this is that it is as far off now as it was in the 1950s. 

All joking aside, the problem I have with both predictions are they examples of what I personally find troubling about Ellul is that given a particular smorgasbord of future predictions he has a knack deliberate or out of his own character of choosing the most negative and as the future has shown unlikely to have ever happened.

We can not even know download information into the brain and we are a long way from in and there is no way that reproductive technology will in any forseeable future track along Ellul's prediction purely on economic grounds alone.

So this then is the question if his understanding of the technology leads him to choose poor examples of the future might his philosophical position also need more questioning.

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