FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Technology is the Root of All Evil!

Techdirt has an insightful post today on the social ills that are being blamed on the Internet, text messaging and other emergent communication technologies. Among them:

With almost every emerging or emergent technology is a corresponding fear of its consequences, particularly for young people. Fears about the Internet are nothing new; in fact, online porn, infidelity and crime date back at least to the mid-'80s and the BBS era. In fact, I'm old enough to remember parental concerns about the first generation of video games (Pong, Space Invaders, Pac Man). Going back farther, one can find reactions against nearly all forms of new technology: television, the telephone, motion pictures.

The Techdirt post takes the angle that many of these latest concerns border on urban legend, or are at least propagated by those who could profit from them (such as therapists). That may be true, though there will always be those who abuse a technology, or at least use it for something other than its intended purpose. But these fears also illustrates the powerful effects of emerging technologies in general -- especially communication technologies -- on society's psyche.

Why is that? Possibly because communication offers freedom, which to many is a far more frightening concept than any technology. Freedom to learn, freedom to reach out, freedom to interact and organize without someone else's permission or control. It's little wonder that countries governed by dictatorships keep a tight reign on Internet use, if it's allowed at all. Freedom and chaos are really the same thing... it just depends on your perspective.