Technology and Values LO11630

William J. Hobler, Jr (
Wed, 01 Jan 1997 19:25:05 -0500

Replying to LO11585 --

Ben Compton wrote

>Technology may reflect _some_ of our values, but by itself does not tell
>us _how_ we should use that technology to better mankind.

I hear an assumption that there is a general consensus that technology
should be used to better mankind. I think that the inventors of new
technology are more narrowly focused. Much like the evolution of complex
organisms the mutation experiments focus on solving a local issue. If
these mutations survive they may not be the best for the entire organism.

Never-the-less what technology is developed is based on cultural values in
use (tho not necessarily those espoused). And the way technology is used
reflects values in use. We may not like the pornography on the Internet
but they are some of the more visited sites. Perhaps we should allow
American cigarette and liqueur companies to advertise on X rated sites and
concentrate all the poriahs in one group.

The Internet was born out of a cold war desire to maintain communications
throughout an all out nuclear engagement between the former USSR and
America. It grew as academics saw the value in sharing research. It
exploded when a small group saw the need to make the interface easy. All
of these are the product of small groups who wished to satisfy some need,
in consensus with the group's values.

>Is it (discussion concerning values) because we can
>all see the great disparity between values around the globe, and how that
>might threaten the world's long-term survival?

I think that we are all, this group and more generally in societies
throughout the developed world, struggling with how we act in opposition
to how we say we should act. We, the global community should not allow a
Bosnia to occur. Yet the carnage persists. How can a Northern Ireland
exist in a "Christian" society? Israel and Palestine have co-existed for
generations, their religions are from identical roots, why does the
terrorism continue?

These are disturbing questions made graphic by CNN real time coverage. I
hasten to add Afghanistan simply because this is a war that is not in
general focus and we, generally, do not fret over Afghanistan as much as
those cited above. Disturbed by this dichotomy between values and actions
we discuss, contemplate, learn and change our mental models. Perhaps we
can influence the mental models of enough people to have whole societies
use the values they espouse.


"William J. Hobler, Jr" <>

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