Notes on Technology

in #society2 months ago

photo_2024-02-06_22-30-08.jpg

The above image was made by @amberjyang with Midjourney using the prompt 'society of technology, mass surveillance, AI, and the future of Earth.'

The accelerating rate of technological advancement is transforming society more and more quickly. There is no precedent for a transformation like this. Nor is it clear where we'll ultimately end up. The control regime is using emerging tech to influence our thinking and behavior, in part by erasing privacy. At the same time, other emerging tech is making it possible for the first time to organize viable alternatives to control regime systems.

Automation is beginning to eliminate many jobs and that's a good thing. In my opinion, anything that can be automated should be automated. In a perfect world, workers would own shares in the machines that replaced them. More realistically, the right Universal Basic Income plan might take the sting out of technological unemployment.

AI appears to be on the cusp of changing everything. This has clear downsides. Precrime. Deepfakes. Next level mass surveillance and targeting of dissidents. Less ominous are possibilities like next level medical cures, more accurate models of the future, and better computer games.

The risks of unwise technological choices are evident all around us. Fracking causes earthquakes. Glyphosate messes with hormones. Gain-of-function research likely brought us COVID. Satellite swarms may soon weaken or distort the planet's magnetic field.

As our technologies become more sophisticated, their risks become more complex. One thing I'm particularly concerned with are the cognitive impacts of an online lifestyle. Over the years, an increasingly large share of my brainpower has been taken over not by knowledge, but by how to find knowledge in computer systems. I feel like this probably has implications for how I think, though I doubt it's anything to worry about.

The impacts of technological advancement on our interactions with each other are more pronounced. Electronic devices and social media platforms mediate more and more of these interactions. Tech that promised to connect us has atomized us instead. Continuing down this path seems unwise.

Technology should connect and empower us. And it will once we learn to harness it more appropriately. In the meantime, there's nothing stopping us from abandoning mainstream social media entirely in favor of ready alternatives. That might not reverse the trend towards atomization, but it would be a start.


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I love this so much! Your illustration of the possibilities and risks of technology is brilliant. Your words and ideas here feel super useful when imagining the tone/flavor of what our Tech Info Center on WTK could be.

On a grander level, this post has me thinking about your idea of a Knowledge Workers Union... and what could be created by people in tech that are being laid off at unprecedented rates. In an ideal world, they could harness their knowledge and create better systems where tech is in service to the greater good.

... and that really is an awesome AI art image :)

Haha thanks again for that: )

I thought about including something on the Knowledge Workers Union but decided to save it for another post. With current tech, workers could organize decentralized companies managed largely by software, taking home the money that management currently captures, focusing only on projects that benefit society.

Sadly there's no way to evade the negative effects of technology as you mentioned in the article. But we will just have to find a way or the human species are in great danger. For me I think AI tech poses the greatest threat to humans more than anything else. Thanks for writing and have a nice day.

I think that part of what makes AI appear so risky is that we don't yet fully understand its risks. Unknowns like that are scary.

Technology is really helpful to us but I hope we don’t get fully dependent on it that we can’t do things on our own
That’s the main thing we have to work on

Good point.

Sometimes I am actually afraid of what technology might want to offer to our world in the coming days

Right on. I'm more afraid of what will become of us if we don't get better at harnessing technology to solve our pressing problems.

Finally I think I was able to see someone who believes in me concerning my perspective about the world of technology and what is capable of offering to the world