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9/11/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:20 PM
9/11/12 questions and discussion

1-have we become too dependent on technology?8
2-if it were proven conclusively that free will is an illusion how would it affect your life and why?4
3-why don't different American cultures mix with one another?5
4-is it better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished?2
5-what is culture?3


have we become too dependent on technology?

Lynn: it seems we're getting more dependent on technology. "The Cloud" and all the technology associated with it: what if it went down? 

Jon: Lynn, are you too dependent on technology?

Lynn: I'd be in trouble without it. I enjoy it too.

Julene: there are redundancies built in to anticipate technology trouble.

Jim: it's interesting. Dependency is there, we're dependent on the world. If technology were to fail now we'd go back to chaos, civilization would collapse.

John: Lynn when use the word technology, do you mean things like  the shovel? Or technology since a specific date, say 1970?

Lynn: let's hold it to computers for now.

Jim: power plants can't operate without computers. 

Jon:   John's question to Lynn about which technologies she wants us to consider is interesting. The cave-man who was first to use a tool instead of his bare hands was the first inventor/user of technology. It's always been about finding ways to be more productive, efficient, safe. It's why Stephen Hawking is alive! There are reasons to be concerned about technology's abuse too, but so far so good (in general). That cave man probably could have used that first tool to do harm.  The so-called "singularity" anticipates a time will come when our technology will no longer need human input. At that point a kind of decision will be made as to whether humans will even be useful to technology. I recently listened to an MPR discussion about US security efforts, specifically the NSA and its "reading" of all American email. This is technology intensive, using computers to filter through millions of emails daily, looking for key words. Then those machines send the filtered emails to humans to read/analyze for threats to US security.

Jim: Lynn is there any point in technology development where you say they've gone too far? For me its the current development of monitoring drones the size of a bird. Some of this I fear.

Lynn: is it the technology that can go too far, or is it how it's used?

Jim: the technology is like water, or a tool, it'll be used for both good and ill.

Jon: are technologies being used today, as Jim suggests, for malevolent ends, Lynn?

Lynn: I don't know if I would notice?

John: as to security via redundancy, Newt Gingrich once spoke of a kind of bomb that would screw up all electronics on earth.

Jim: it's possible. Our power lines are functionally antennae. This bomb sends a strong pulse that would easily overcome surge protectors, possibly worldwide. This bomb presently exists.

John: we rely on electricity for important things like water pumping. That leads to a question whether our government should seek ways to ensure the safety of basic survival issues should something catastrophic occur.

Jon: I just watched the BBC documentary "Century of the Self". It's not specifically about computer technology but is about the technology of controlling the populace via "public relations." Eventually it's inventor (Edward Bernays) coined the phrase "engineering consent". It was a technology for getting large numbers of people to do what you want them to do. It was first employed by American businesses but was quickly absorbed by government/political­ leaders. It played a large part in FDR's New Deal, for example. The  Reagan campaign's emphasis of getting government off our backs is another. It's what changed the American people from workers into consumers. I find this is a "step too far" in the use of technology.

John: how many people were using email 20 years ago? Does anybody here feel it would significantly change their lives to lose it? If you were charged an additional dollar a month would you keep email?

Jim: Google, etc, are searching our emails, using our internet information to keep extensive data on each of us. This may be fine for selling things but how do I know it will be limited to that?

John: how many people pay their bills online? How many have saved on postage? Do you feel bad that postal workers will lose their jobs as a result? Is there anybody here who does not use the internet? Does anyone here think it's of value? 

Jim: is anyone here concerned that what they're doing online is making them vulnerable?

Lynn: I've had an unlisted phone number for years and once decided to google myself: my phone number was not listed but everything else was: address, picture of my house, my interests, an estimate of my income and the cost of my home!

John: does anyone watch tv on line for free?

Jim: notice what we've done is to say all these technologies are good yet we've also pointed out the potential loss of civilization/freedom­.

John: is anybody anxious if their computers stop working?

Jon: an experiment was recently done on our uses of modern technologies. Participants all worked at the same company and were required during the test to not use their cell phones/ipads/compute­rs for one day each week. The assumption was that restricted technology access would result in lesser productivity/efficie­ncy. Ironically the opposite occurred. The workers who didn't use their gadgets one day per week were more productive/efficient­ than when they had full access to gadgetry every day. The hypothesis that resulted is that in fact all those ways of "connecting" actually distract us more than they focus us on whatever tasks are at hand.

Melissa: I was obsessed with my first computer, would get very stressed if it broke! Then it became out of date and I lived without it, then got used to that and now enjoy less technology. With just a phone I eventually decided it's not enough. A friend gave me their old computer, it's good enough.

John: does anybody remember the 50s 60s 70s when seeing movies meant going to the theatre or waiting for it to come to TV?

Jim: is there any point that is a step too far? Here's mine: an implant at birth that controls us.

Jon: my only fear is reaching the point where we no longer control the technology -- for either good or ill -- and the decisions actually don't include human wishes at all. 

Larry: we are going to become more and more dependent on technology. I think we're going in the wrong direction; we're spending too much on military defense and kids' games.

John: has technology liberated of enslaved us? Jim's been giving us an Orwellian view. I think we're liberated. 

Jim: that's good for the present but I remain concerned looking into the future.

Lynn: when in Peru, we saw Inca fortifications for preventing flooding that worked better -- much better -- than what more recent Peruvians have built!

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