Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Achieving Personal Immortality Roadmap

Enhancing Virtues: Self-Control and Mindfulness

Don’t fear the robot car bomb

“Transcendence” A Movie Review

One Nation Under Siege: “Counterinsurgency Cops” in Ferguson – and on TV

“Lucy”: A Movie Review


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
by Martine Rothblatt


comments

Rick Searle on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)

Eric Schulke on 'How would you spend $5k to spread info & raise awareness about indefinite life extension?' (Aug 20, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)

Rick Searle on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)

Giulio Prisco on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)

Rick Searle on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)

Rick Searle on 'Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers' (Aug 20, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections

Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee

Technological Unemployment but Still a Lot of Work…

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


What is the Difference between Posthumanism and Transhumanism?
Jul 28, 2014
(7619) Hits
(6) Comments

Is using nano silver to treat Ebola misguided?
Aug 16, 2014
(4689) Hits
(0) Comments

“Lucy”: A Movie Review
Aug 18, 2014
(4245) Hits
(0) Comments

Are we heading for technological unemployment? An Argument
Aug 14, 2014
(3793) Hits
(10) Comments



IEET > Contributors > Ilkka Vuorikuru

Print Email permalink (10) Comments (2910) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


An open PhD project about transhumanism Hot & new consumer electronics are here


Ilkka Vuorikuru
Ilkka Vuorikuru
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 12, 2012

Highway to the future or a technocultural dystopia unfolding?

 

 

 

Today is The Big Day for Nokia. In a few hours the the company is going to launch it’s latest Windows phone that is rumored to host the new Windows 8 OS. Later next week it’s the same with Apple and the new iPhone. The modern internet with it’s unimaginable power to transmit information boosts these two events to planetary proportions. Will Nokia finally be able to break (back) into the lead with the new phone or is the hype going to melt down with the – so far – superior Apple.

This must be what the singularity feels like but is this what it is supposed to be? I mean, virtually lining behind large companies in their attempt to dominate the market. The market? Do you mean the financial market? You know, the system behind the world scale economic disaster looming in the horizon?

I was a young man in the 90′s. Back then there were was a fast awakening to the ecological disaster facing the world. Researchers argued – and still do – that the economic boom of the 20th century is culminating in a fast depletion of natural resources. People around the world became aware of the fact that the lifestyle we enjoy does have a double edge. In the past two decades nothing much has happened to correct this “cycle of doom”.

Now we are in a situation where most of the planet is affected by how “people receive” their new mobile devices. Will the stock go up or down. It’s not long ago that Nokia and Apple both had to answer some odd questions about how, where and by whom their devices were manufactured. It turned out, that there were some mistakes made. And remember when Apple announced it would with draw from EPEAT? After a world wide protest they decided that it’s better not to.

At the start of the 21st century some of you may have noticed a modest rise of the “new consumer culture“. What this means is that people are not just buying stuff they want (like the theory of consumerism has been thus far) but people would be eager to invest in things that are ecologically and socially sustainable. This is a part of the “green revolution” and frankly, I am surprised that it still remains a very small part of the combined marketing economy that keeps our world going (faster, closer and more mobile).

I have absolutely nothing against such products like Lumia or the iPhone. Not at all. I could not imagine living with out one. Mobile devices along with other innovations of the 21st century makes my life better, easier and perhaps fuller.

And the very same things I slightly criticize here are the things I can use to look up stuff like sustainable economy or consumer movements such as “Buy Nothing Day“.

And it is after doing some thinking of my own, I have decided that the way we are “hyped about the future” may well be the thing that prevents us getting there. From a Transhuman standpoint it’s easy to see why. It’s not just the fastness of development or the availability of new products that push the world forward. Those things push the economy forward and all though that is needed to keep pushing towards a more techno-oriented society, culturally, it’s not enough.

The Transhumanist in me is seeking to find the right technologies to push forward. Deciding what is right goes deep into the basics of being human (and especially Transhuman). I’m not a big fan of “nature before everything” since I have a deeply antrophocentric world view. That said, I believe we need to look at the big picture here.

And the picture states the obvious. We can’t expect to enrich our lives with depleted meanings. Even that the technology offered here is state of the art, we should ask for more. Do we really need a new cell phone or an iPad every year? By asking more we are asking not only more sustainable technological progress but a deeper and richer content as well. You may or may not know that the bloody competition in the high end technology market puts the consumer “needs” before everything else. Where is the innovation in that? Why would any company – even super rich Apple – invest billions in research and development if what they really “need” to do is keep up with competition?

We should build less and slower. At the same time we should look at what the gadgets actually offer from a cultural and social perspective. This is totally against the ideology of the “free market” since it’s said that the free market is all we need to get the best products and practices. But is this true in a situation where best ideas are nothing but market projections for a certain market segment?

If we find our selves asking who to make the markets “smarter”, we may then wake up to the fact that there still are people on the planet who can’t read or write. Or who have trouble getting food and fresh water. The planetary infrastructure of social well being is undermined all the time, not to mention that the nature around us is dying and taking us with it. This must be something for Transhumanist’s to think about and in my understanding they are. This could also be a message what would make Transhumanism even a more interesting world view among the peoples of the world. It just needs good packaging.

No singularity worth the effort is going to happen unless we take care of the present first. We are loosing massive human resources due to poverty and we are loosing the battle to master nature – because we are continually at risk of being extinct because we are still very much dependent on the natural environment.

Despite this I’ll be rooting for Nokia this week. It’s still a Finnish company in name at least. I’ll also be dreaming about technological progress that would actually benefit humanity and pave the way for a better, happier and richer future.


Ilkka Vuorikuru is a PhD student in sociology of science and technology at the University of Turku, Finland. He works as a Technoculture Adviser, journalist, coach and motivational speaker.
Print Email permalink (10) Comments (2911) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


The pettiness of the 21st century is surprising: a guy buys a pricey HD TV so he can watch Fox News discuss “did the CIA’s ex-master’s mistress spill the beans on Benghazi in bed?”

Nationalism goes National Enquirer.





...but in truth, it can’t accurately be said the situation has become worse; at least at this time not technoculturally. The biosphere is something to worry about however it can’t be said for sure life has worsened technoculturally; it doesn’t ‘seem’ worse now than when the overall crime rate heightened in the second half of the ‘80s. It’s not better today yet it has leveled out, most of you remember the rise in homelessness, AIDs, drug addiction, etc., a quarter century ago.
Again, the pettiness is what is surprising: in 1987 I had thought the 21st century would see less tabloidization of the psychosphere, less scandal-mongering. Looking ahead in the ‘80s, an optimistic person wouldn’t expect that a quarter century ahead the public would use cellphones to do electronic purchases of communication devices so scores of millions could watch and listen to a CIA soap opera. Perhaps a quarter century ago it was predictable it would come to this—but not inevitable. Maybe the sordid violence of the past is being superseded by sordid sexuality.. instead of a scandal wherein a foreign leader is assassinated by intelligence agents, a mistress writes a book about bedtime revelations involving classified secrets.

What is cause for concern (though it has always been this way) is how jingoists are completely without compassion for other nations,other peoples. All nationalists talk about when foreign affairs are broached is how our nation is all that matters and we have to eliminate everyone who gets in our way, anyone who poses the slightest threat.





@Intomorrow Why surprising? We’ve had 12 years to get used to it, and it’s not as if the late 20th was much better…





In any case there’s an easy explanation: it’s the human genome in action. And more specifically our stone age brains. Perhaps also it has to do with the breakdown of religion: now that we don’t believe in God any more, we need to find other ways to amuse ourselves.

As far as solutions are concerned (because I agree with you that this is a problem), as always I see mindfulness (in the Western psychology rather than strictly Buddhist sense) as key. To a large extent our superficiality is driven by the ease with which we are led to focus on the superficial in opposition to our longer-term interests. Mindfulness helps us to become more aware of this, and to stay focused on longer-term goals. At least that’s what I’ve found.





Hadn’t seen your second comment Intomorrow. Yes I agree nationalism is a major concern, not least here in Europe where I sometimes feel like solidarity between, and even with, nations is breaking down altogether.

But again, we should not complain about things unless we are planning on doing something about them. Part of the problem we have today is that too many people complain, and not enough of us are really interested in doing something about what they are complaining about. Of course, complaining can itself have value, but there’s altogether too much of it in my view. I prefer to focus on solutions, and while mindfulness is by no means the whole story, I think it is one of the most powerful and promising technologies we have, especially now that it has been refined in the crucible of modern science.





“Hadn’t seen your second comment Intomorrow. Yes I agree nationalism is a major concern, not least here in Europe where I sometimes feel like solidarity between, and even with, nations is breaking down altogether.
But again, we should not complain about things unless we are planning on doing something about them. Part of the problem we have today is that too many people complain, and not enough of us are really interested in doing something about what they are complaining about. Of course, complaining can itself have value, but there’s altogether too much of it in my view. I prefer to focus on solutions, and while mindfulness is by no means the whole story, I think it is one of the most powerful and promising technologies we have, especially now that it has been refined in the crucible of modern science.”


Right on all counts. One question is: since Europe is more densely populated and has the much longer history, is there a greater awareness of interconnectedness? I read a couple years ago about precautions Germans take to avoid polluting their farmlands, and cases of N. European nations being more aware of such factors—though what I’ve read may be isolated examples. As for complaining, naturally it goes without saying you are correct; but here it is a real, deliberate, double-bind; when one wants to change the status quo, you are considered complaining by way of rocking the boat; but if one lets things slide via acquiesence in the status quo one is negligent! Countless Rightists are conflicted: they want change, but they want the patrimony to remain as it is.. very difficult to arrange outside of VR. Think of what the ludicrous CIA scandal signifies: old values v. newer values acted out as if it were a play- a bad one; and it is merely one example of the conflicts
I honestly do not see how we can have 1776 and 2012 at one ‘n the the same time. Yet as you amost certainly know it is six of one, half a dozen of another: for instance if I moved to Scandinavia there would be more authentic friendships however there’s not the engine—a violent engine—of change that China and the US possess—that we are.





Rightists are not the only ones who are conflicted. Most of us have incompatible or unrealisable desires. To be conservative means to want things to stay more or less as they are, or perhaps go back to some earlier idyll. Beyond a certain point it becomes unrealistic, but are progressives necessarily less so? Progressives want to propel ourselves towards some kind of bright, positive future, but that can be no less contradictory or wishful. And do we even know we’ll like it if we get there? Especially if we ourselves have been so transformed that we are no longer the same people that are dreaming now.

But you’re right about one thing: nostalgia is a poor recipe for future happiness. We need to have a vision that is at least *future-compatible*, even if it is to some extent rooted in a past idyll. Rightists complain, especially following the election result, that the old world is passing away. At least they’re beginning to realise it. And that really IS progress.





In the mean time, leftists indulge paranoid anger-fantasies about the “global elite”. It’s not that there isn’t a global elite, of a sort, but they’re not all bad, and frankly I think we need them. Those that rail against “the system”, and imagine they can prosper without it, are as delusional as any conservative.





What you write is valid to the point of all being a given. Keep in mind one can’t go into comprehensive detail without being lost in semantics—writing an article on it would turn into a complete abstraction. What I did above was start off with a random but ready-made example of anachronism—ludicrous anachronism—in the news, the CIA scandal; and discuss ‘Rightists’ because there’s no purpose in attempting to communicate with them, thus a technoprogressive site is the only way to go for me: in America, if one wants to get involved, one will argue with contrarians the rest of one’s life. It is like that here.

In this you get to the heart of it:

“do we even know we’ll like it if we get there? Especially if we ourselves have been so transformed that we are no longer the same people that are dreaming now.”

When we change what it is like to be human as we know human to be, we change conventions (the memes making up what we call our heritage) so we transmogrify the original morality in the process. But such is for pros to examine.. what I’m focusing on is how can one, again, live in the Newtonian world of the 18th- 19th centuries yet also live in the 21st century? The majority of Americans live inside what you and I might consider to be an outmoded (however cozy) worldview. And what is politics?: when you strip away the garbage you are left with politics being organising (or disorganising) the world around us by manipulating symbols.
So all I’m writing above in the previous comments is that if we are so stuck in the past as we appear to be, to say *don’t complain, change things* means one has to slog it out with people whose job it is to do so. The way it is set up is roughly what the Framers wanted.. though it is in fact anachronistic by our technoprogressive lights, it’s the job of the old-fashioned, their careers, to hold onto anachronism.
I have to evade their clutches, Pete, it is part of the intense dynamic in America- one definition of a pioneer is somebody with an arrow in their back.

 





There are different ways to change things, without necessarily exposing oneself to arrows. If one sees posting comments here as “doing something”, then that already has value in my view.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Artificial wombs: is a sexless reproduction society in our future?

Previous entry: Singularity 1 on 1: Interrogate and Engage the World

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
Williams 119, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376