Are You a Techno-Optimist or a Techno-Pessimist?

“Reflections” is a new category of posts aimed to engage discussion about broader issues in technology and ethics.  This first “Reflections” post on Techno-optimism and Techno-pessimism asks you to consider, “What are your general views towards technology, and how did you arrive at those views?”

technology-and-human-communicationMany of us have opinions about technology that can be classified along the spectrum of being a “techno-optimist” or a “techno-pessimist” — categorizations that reflect our general attitude about our technological past, present, and future.

When you think about the way in which technology has impacted our world—from the environment, to our medical achievements, to human relationships — are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about its influence?

Are you a techno-optimist? Do you think technology has consistently improved our lives for the better, and that it will continue to do so into the future?  When you consider problems in society, or even problems with current technology, do you think that the solution to those problems is more technology?

Or would you characterize yourself as a techno-pessimist? Are you generally concerned with the impact that modern technology has had on humanity, believing that it has created just as many problems as solutions?  Do you think that seeking out more technology is likely to bring about new problems, because technology inevitably introduces unforeseen consequences and dangers? Do you think that since technology creates so many of its own problems, the answer to human progress often lies in a reduction of technological dependence, rather than an expansion of it?

You may find that you don’t fall solidly into one camp or the other; and extremes of these two camps, of course, both hold with them their risks.  Blind technological-optimism and faith in technological fixes for problems leads one to always focus on looking for a technological fix, thereby overlooking non-technological interventions.   Alternatively, complete resistance to technology is untenable, and may cause us to overlook potential technologies that could be helpful.

But it’s important to remember that neither of these characterizations has to be relegated to an extreme.  A techno-optimist is not necessarily a Singularity-obsessed Cyborg-wannabe, blindly advocating for technological expansion; and a techno-pessimist is not necessarily a techno-phobe who withdraws from society completely to a cabin in the woods (although that’s not to say that these types of people don’t exist, to be sure).

It’s likely you fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two extremes, and have developed that view based on how technology has influenced your own life, and how you have perceived that technology has affected our society.  Consider some of the following examples, and reflect on where you fall on the techno-optimist/techno-pessimist spectrum:

  • Have social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, alongside communication technologies like cell phones, texting, and so on, increased our capacity to communicate, or diminished it?  Have we forged better relationships as a result of these technologies, or has the quality of our relationships deteriorated?  Do such technologies stimulate or dull our intellects?  Do they tend to enhance our emotional depth, or inhibit deep emotional responses? Do they lead us to be more or less active, physically and socially?  Do they allow us to become more aware of the world around us, or less?
  • Is the solution to the climate crisis to be found in the hopes of green technologies, or to be found by making changes to human behavior?  Should we invest in technology to solve our climate problems, or should we invest in reducing our dependence on energy through social and behavioral changes, such as reducing our habits of consumption?  Even if we can do both, does focusing on future hopes for new ‘clean’ and ‘green’ technologies reduce our motivation to make necessary lifestyle changes now?  Or are such technologies the only real solution we can expect for our environmental problems?
  • Have advancements in medicine been unequivocally positive?  What has been the impact of technologies like x-rays, antibiotics, antidepressants, and end-of-life care (like respirators) had on the whole of human experience?  To what extent have they improved our quality of life, and to what extent have they affected it negatively?
  • Can social and environmental problems, ones that are arguably “non-technical” in nature, have “technological” solutions? For example, given the world’s global food shortage, should we encourage the proliferation of agricultural biotechnology, including genetically engineering crops, with the aim to increasing food yield?  Or should we look to individuals and social movements to make changes in human behavior, such as putting emphasis on limiting food waste, distributing food supply more evenly, and placing value on a certain degree of self-sacrifice?

Leave your comment below, assessing where you fall on the spectrum, and why:

Are you a techno-optimist or a techno-pessimist?  What experiences or ideas have caused you to develop this view?

56 Responses to “Are You a Techno-Optimist or a Techno-Pessimist?”

  1. JLew says:

    I’m 80% techno-optimist and 20% techno-pessimist.

    Today’s standard of living is so much better than it was just 100 years ago. Can anyone honestly say that they would have been happier living in the 1500s? Yes, mankind has produced some serious threats to the planet, but I’m confident that we’ll find a solution to all of them.

    The 20% of me that is techno-pessimist is because of stories like this one: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1937370,00.html. The article is about the Large Hadron Collider, a $9 billion experiment designed to produce Higgs Bosons, a theorized particle. A minority of well-respected physicists (these are no dummies!) believe that if the experiment succeeds, the resulting Higgs Bosons will create a black hole that will destroy the planet. No matter how much you love technology, you can’t deny the danger here!

    • cesilver says:

      Through my studies and personal life, I have mixed feelings about technology. On one hand advancements have lead to new helpful creations like pace makers which keeps a human heart beating but then on the other hand, weapons of mass destruction would not be possible without advancements in technology.

      I remember are discussion in Communications class about the advantages and disadvantages of technology and someone actually me brought up the subject of cars. Look at all the progress we have made and the type of life we live in now because of what cars offer us. We can now drive 20000 miles to see are loved ones, or work miles away from where we actually live. However, when we look at the outcome of a gasoline consuming world that we have created due to cars. Political unrest is greater, the environment is now looking the weakest it has ever, and there is a greater divide among those who have the ability to have/own a car and those who don’t.

      In class we studied Sherry Turkle who wrote the book Alone Together. I agree with her view on technology the most, she stated that we need to realize the tension that technology creates in are lives and that we need to find a balance. Its the unbalance that creates and makes technology negative I believe. And I do agree with Turkle that we need to put it in its place. When I watched her in an interview with Steven Colbert stating that she has seen people text a funerals I was appalled.

      Whether one is dystopian or a utopian about technology, that means someone who is cautious about technology and see that it has negative impacts sometimes or utopian who thinks that technology has the potential to solve many of the problems of humanity today.

      I’ve learned about the progression and dangers of technology not just from life and my communication class but also last year in religion class when we studied the famous Teilhard de Chardin. Based off of the article by Robert Bruce Baird, in his article Father Teilhard de Chardin, he writes that “Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent the bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution.” His theories of the mix of chrisitanity and evolution play a role in technology because Father Teilhard de Chardin thought that the next great form in evolution was the “Omega Point” which is a convergence of systems, especially technology. He predicted the change technology would create, thus this new evolution. Which sounds strangly similar to Sherry’s Turkles theory of the “long boom” which is all about how within a 40 year span technology will advance greatly creating this great change. Either way one argues it, the impact of technology is inevitable and I think the positive and negative effects of it are something we will discover with time.

      http://www.dailynewarticles.com/article/188/22263/Father_Teilhard_de_Chardin.html

  2. Aaminah Khan says:

    I think that part of the solution to climate changes lies with change in human behavior as well advances in technology but the right kind of technology. We cannot keep making cars that pollute the air while at the same time, eat the few natural resources we have left. Humans also need to change their consumption habits if there is going to be any sort of positive impact on the earth. We cannot keep living under the assumption that we don’t need to change until everyone is doing it. We are also so technologically advanced that it would be assumed as well as necessary to use our knowledge to improve the environment, much like solar panels. We are using the sun’s energy to create other forms of energy for ourselves without harming the environment. Advances like these are positive and are helping to decrease some of the pollution already caused by humans. However I have to say that at this point in life, humans will always have some sort of negative impact on the environment and I say this because it feels as though as time has progressed, humans have done nothing but made each situation worse and worse. Very little has been done to change them. In future years we may hope to have begun solving all of earth’s problems but in reality we will only be adding to them.

  3. tbowlby says:

    I would say I am mostly a techno-optomist. I see things like certain medicines and treatments and how they’re saved and improved lives. I see things like computers and the internet and how they’ve improved efficiency in communication and research and made it accessible to so many people. Look at how so many of the funds for Haiti have been sent, through text messaging certain numbers and donating an amount of money through your phone bill. Do these technologies take us farther away from society? That may be possible, but I would argue how much less we would know about other societies without technology. I have a friend who grew up in a for close-minded religion (I’ll refrain from using names) that tried to hide much of the world from him in order to keep him as a member of their community. He began to second guess his beliefs, partly due to what his friends exposed him to, but he owes a great deal of his realization to different TV shows, books and websites that exposed certain myths and beliefs that were so central to his religion.

    That is not to say that technology is perfect, there are certainly flaws, even within the medicinal world that so many point to as the benchmark of technology. Take a look at drugs drugs like oxycontin and vicodin. When used correctly they can work wonders for people with chronic pain, but are often found to be abused, starting a whole new epidemic of addiction and drug abuse within suburban and affluent cultures. However, the best thing about such flaws? Due to technology we can question the effects of such drugs and find ways to fix them.

    • Anisha says:

      I agree with your point that flaws are eminent. I think that not all flaws are technological, but behavioral as well. Yes a technology could have the potential to cause a catastrophic event, but it does not necessarily have to be used that way. We place our values into the technologies and make them what they are. I don’t really know if this would be considered more techno-optimist or techno-pessimist, because though the technology is what is actually causing the effects, we are the ones that should be held responsible since we are the ones that created it.

  4. Alec says:

    I would say I am certainly a techno-optimist, though I think in terms of society, it may be making people weaker.

    I see the main issue that will need to be addressed someday is overpopulation and what comes with it, and I feel technology will be used to solve it. Is a solution feasible without the use of technology, that is large automated food/crop management systems and huge housing units? Not that I can see, and I don’t think many see any sort of “population reduction” and acceptable answer. More technology will developed, and I believe it will be successful.

    Obviously, however, there is only so far we can go expanding to suit an ever-increasing population. Ultimately technology can only go so far, so excluding moving to the moon or other planets, it will fail, but I wouldn’t call that a fault of technology. Nothing is perfect forever.

    “We are using the sun’s energy to create other forms of energy for ourselves without harming the environment.”
    Let’s not forget the money and energy required to manufacture solar arrays as well as the little return they provide.

    “In future years we may hope to have begun solving all of earth’s problems but in reality we will only be adding to them.”
    I’m all for finding errors in process, but typically it’s with the intent of finding and moving towards a solution. I’m 100% with you that “We cannot keep living under the assumption that we don’t need to change until everyone is doing it,” but since you think we ultimately doomed, it ruins all of the motivation. As mentioned above, I think the benefit of technology will run out, but the outlook that everything we do will make things worse isn’t productive at all. It suggests an all-stop which isn’t an acceptable step towards a better future either.

  5. Anisha says:

    I feel as though my views on techno optimism and techno pessimism vary based on the problem at hand. In regards to the climate crisis, I believe that technology and human behavior both have vital roles in making a change for the better. But then again the technology is what got us into this mess in the first place. We’ve become so embedded into our technological lifestyles that I don’t think it is possible for us to better our way of life and lower the detrimental consequences without including technology in the solution. It would not be realistic for us to decide to stop using technology all together, because not all technologies have had negative effects. As I said before, human behavior is just as much of a factor as the technology itself. For example, the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” shows we have had certain technologies in our grasp but have not used them to our advantage. People have put other things, such as wealth, before the environment. The problem is that we do not think about the consequences of the technologies we create until we finally get hit with the negative effects. So I would have to say in regards to the climate crisis I’m about 50-50 techno optimist and techno-pessimist.

    • Charlee says:

      I totally agree with you Anisha. I think technology has both negative and positive effect on our society. We as a society have become so involved with technology that I do believe that it would be hard to cut it from our lives. For example, picture yourself without your phone for one day. Most people would freak out, I know I did when I lost my phone last year. We rely technology objects to fill our void of connection to society. It would be nice to eliminate most of the technology that we use, because I do agree that these things are hurting our environment. Overall, I agree that we cannot do much against the fight between technology and the environment.

  6. Sara Phillips says:

    I believe that it is very difficult to categorize my view of technology as either fully techno optimistic or techno pessimistic, just as the article states. I believe that it is more about finding a reasonable balance between the two, rather than looking to pull more or less to one side or the other.

    In terms of the social networking sites, I would say that I’m torn between the short-term returns of sites like Facebook and the long-term implications of these sites. In terms of techno-pessimism, it is hard to ignore the fact that Facebook makes it possible for individuals to stay connected to a large amount of people that they could not otherwise stay in contact with. This type of communication is especially effective for college students who, for the most part, leave their friends and family behind to study in school. Without social networking sites like Facebook and technology like the cell phone, these students would have virtually no contact with these people who are thousands of miles away. Communication through Facebook is a much better alternative than a complete loss of communication between two individuals. But at what price? On the other side of the fence, Facebook diminishes the relationships that have the capability to be much more intimate through face-to-face interaction. Facebook has a way of clumping together the relationships that have no choice but to be through Facebook because of distance and the relationships that are held through Facebook with friends we already see on a daily basis. The danger here is the loss of the meaningful intimate relationships that we have the capability to possess with individuals who we see daily; individuals whom we really do not need to communicate with on Facebook at all.

    I believe that we need to pay attention to patterns like this. Humans possess a need for face-to-face interaction. We thrive off of personal and intimate relationships; we are essentially social beings. Without these, we will lose what it means to be human. Facebook is a utility, an application and supplement to the already existing relationships we have with others. As wonderful as Facebook is for keeping in touch with old friends and distanced family members, it should not replace the valuable relationships we can have with those individuals we have the ability to develop an intimate face-to-face relationship with.

    In regards to social sites like Facebook, I am more of a techno-optimist because I believe that it is the person who distinguishes the meaning behind their relationships, not the technology. It is that individual’s responsibility to separate their friends from the profile picture or daily status updates they may make on a site like Facebook. In this way, Facebook can be used as a supplement, and a very helpful one at that.

    • Justin_Thomsen says:

      I seriously doubt that Facebook is used as a supplement. Young adults and teenagers spend hours on Facebook every day. How many of them spend hours in real conversation? Modern technology advancements seems to me to have a very flattening effect on communication.

      Communication, in its latest technological fad (i.e., Twitter), has been reduced to 140 character, often grammatically unintelligible thoughts announcing to the world “Hey, look at me!!!!” And this is progress in communication? Somehow even phrases such as “Lol” and “FML” and “WTF” have pervaded into our spoken vocabulary. Language is perhaps our most precious technology.

      There is a very strong argument that without language we could not even meaningfully think–all your thoughts are in a language, are they not? Yet, this modern technology is enabling people to dissolve communication and language in a rapid way never truly possible before. To think that we could have any meaningful communication in 140 characters is ridiculous in the first place. But as much as I hate Twitter, it hasn’t progressed to the level of Facebook, which it is nearly impossible to live without in today’s world.

      Facebook is an egregious offender in terms of flattening communication and relationships. I have people who were completely serious tell me that my relationship with my current girlfriend “wasn’t official” until it was on Facebook. For the record, it didn’t show up there till one of us got bored one night 4 months into the relationship and decided to add it. Immediately afterwards, people asked me about my “new” relationship, and when I told them I had been dating her for 4 months, they were offended that I hadn’t advertised it on Facebook. But yet, had they had the interest in actually engaging in meaningful conversation with me at any point during the previous 4 months, either by phone, email, or in person instead of sitting behind a computer screen pseudo-stalking their “friends,” they would have known I had a girlfriend. To be sure, this is a small example…but I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who has observed and experienced this flattening of communication.

      • agrodriguez says:

        Facebook and Twitter allow us to keep people updated on our where-abouts, feelings, and experiences, but only in a socially desirable manner. Many people do not tweet about things that might make them seem like a less than descent person or change their status to something that might not generate “likes”. Although both of these social media sites allow for us to stay updated on the good things that are happening in our friends’ and loved ones’ lives, they reduce the time that we might spend physically face-to-face with these people.

        Face to face interactions with people we care about produce genuine conversatiosn where one can trust in the other and communicate through evanescent speech. Face to face conversations also produce closer bonds with people because of verbal communication. I can not begin to count the number of times in which what I was trying to say or what someone else was saying was misinterpreted because emotion is often not transmitted through text clearly. Often times I am sarcastic in my Facebook updates and they are taken completely out of context by people that do know me very well and understood by the people whom I have close relationships with outside of social media.

        Furthermore, there are some social networking sites that may enable deep and meaningful relationships between people. Online dating sites have gained popularity in recent years. They are advertised in television, online ads, billboards, magazines, newspapers and in many other places. Online dating sites enable people who might have time restrictions because of work or school to meet a variety of individuals that they might be interested in. Thousands of people have found their life long partners on these sites. However, some of these sites are often seen as making people less social and more dependent on technology to socialize.

        I personally believe that all of these social media sites can be as beneficial and as useless as one makes them. I could spend hours Facebook stalking people I hardly know, or I could spend hours catching up with friends and family on the other side on the country. I believe social media is a convivial tool and subject to our use of it.

  7. Justin_Thomsen says:

    I would generally classify myself as a strong techno-pessimist. I’m not out here advocating a return to log cabins in the wilderness, nor even small self-contained communities. Globalization has done wonders for world economic growth. Mean quality of life increases usually follow in capitalist societies where economic growth occurs. I cannot debate that our standard of living is exponentially greater than it was before the Civil War just one and a half centuries ago. It is truly hard for me to comprehend what life must have been like for my parents who grew up without digital technology, let alone the lives of those who lived before the industrial revolution.

    That said, however, I cannot agree that technology tends to make us better off. I argue instead that technology makes life easier. It makes it more comfortable–for those who have the luxury of accessing it. Here, of course, I am speaking of “modern technology,” rather than the technologies of political, economic, or other systems. But, this is certainly not the same as saying life has been made better. Sometimes easy isn’t always the best.

    Consider: It was very easy to win victory in Japan during WWII by employing two atomic weapons. It would be hard to say that was the best thing (morally speaking, that is) to do. Moreover, imagine the nuclear apocalypse that could happen because nuclear weaponry has been invented. Yes, we ended half of a terrible war. But at what cost?

    Consider: We have created oral hormonal contraceptives which allows for us to engage in sexual activity more freely and without the threat of unwanted pregnancy, nor having to use “mood killing” barrier and “natural planning” methods of contraception. The downside? Studies are consistently showing that while hormonal birth control seems to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, it increases the risk of liver cancer and cervical cancers. The effect on breast cancer is debated. Is this necessarily a good trade off? It certainly is an easy one, because the short-term payoff is excellent. But thinking long term, might it just be better to take a minute to put on a condom and/or insert a diaphragm before sex…or even wait until times of the month where a woman is least likely to get pregnant?

    Consider: Refridgerators and other cooling systems famously employed cloroflourocarbons (CFCs). It was easy to do as CFCs functioned as very effective refridgerants. Turns out they were destroying the ozone all along. The problem? We cannot just go up into the atmosphere and rebuild the ozone. We can only wait and hope it regenerates…and hope our other technologies (like cars) don’t continue to deplete it.

    To be sure, modern technology has made excellent strides pushing forward the comfort and ease of life. But I wonder if it is really worth it. I’m inclined to think not. I don’t want to go back to the lifestyle of 1850. But I certainly wouldn’t mind slowing down the ever-quickening process of modern technological advancement just to make sure we’re making a good long-term investment in true quality of life for ourselves and future generations rather than putting all our money on the short-term ease of life that modern technology almost always promises in abundance.

  8. Joshua Dunn says:

    I consider myself a techno-optimist, but only by a very slim margin. There’s no doubt that modern technology has left us with a slew of unintended side effects. For example, modes of communication have recently come about that center around goals of efficiency and social predictability (text/instant messaging, e-mail), but I believe they divide us even further in a broader communal and social sense, as people eventually become accustomed to having conversations that take place in an implied, almost metaphysical social universe instead of actual real life. There’s no doubt in my mind that this has had a detrimental impact on our social interactions and capabilities. By utilizing technology to help us alleviate certain social anxieties and stigmas that appear in real life, we blind ourselves to the real solutions to these problems. This is only one example of how technology hurts our development as human beings.

    With my nuances on this position clearly outlined, however, I must point out that when people generally reflect upon the subject of technology at an instant, they always seem great at pointing out the deficiencies and newly created problems that arrive with it, but lack a serious understanding of the history of technology to fully appreciate how gingerly we live today because of it. In fact, it can be said that many of these technologies have become so interwoven within our own lives that we inevitably take them for granted and fail to even recognize them as vehicles of social progress. (Our ability to make fire, for example, is still a technology, but it’s improved use over thousands of years has made us consider it almost a given.

    I believe my opposing feelings represent a fundamental problem in attempting to classify technology as being either helpful or hurtful in the larger spectrum of humanity. It seems to me if humanity wants the taken-for-granted social progresses (technologies like electricity, plumbing, agriculture), it must also willfully accept that at some points technology may go astray. It’s like Socrates said, “We don’t debate ends, we debate means.” The same idea can be applied to technology. Humanity will inevitably falter in its search to implement technologies that make life more efficient and enjoyable, but it must learn to live with these possibilities instead of attacking technology as a wholly abstract idea.

  9. kevin Laymoun says:

    Techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are two polar opposite categories, which I believe almost no one truly falls under. To be a Techno-pessimist is impossible given the technology drenched societies we live in, and the Amish people serve as evidence for this fact. They have slowly and begrudgingly accepted tractors and phones to enter into their otherwise primitive life styles. The reason techno-pessimism is so implausible is because without technology we would not be human. If we take a purely Darwinist approach we would reason that it is human nature to use technology to its advantage and therefore the rejection of technology is simply inhuman. Although it is a harsh approach, it is true that humans would have never survived had they not constructed their own weapons and shelters in order to avoid death at the hands of predatory animals. The counter argument would be that creating the metropolises we have today is excessive and therefore no longer “human nature”. True, such “urban jungles” are indeed no longer human nature but instead human desire. Every animal seeks to survive above all else, and the opposition each individual faces in this goal is nature, predators, and other individuals of the species. This is a fact that is represented in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The farther we get from having to live a subsistence lifestyle the more liberated our minds are to find other means to improve life and make the task of survival easier. So technology began as constructing defenses from nature and predators and has developed into a tool we use in competition with other human beings. Whoever has the best technology will undoubtedly make more money and live more lavishly than those with worse technology.
    Thus we see ourselves entering the problems of Techno-optimism. Technology has developed a great deal since its origins and now its main purpose is to improve our lives. Living entails having freedom, and it is sadly another human propensity to attack the freedoms of others in order to secure one’s own freedom. This is evidence of Darwin’s theory of competition for resources. Money is how we quantify an individual’s access to food, water, and shelter. Technology is known to improve our access to all three of these necessities beyond the necessary subsistent needs. But we have moved past the point of necessity and into the realm of extravagance. This extravagance is available to whoever is able to afford it. The result is that technology is constructed with the sole purpose of attaining capital, which leaves humanity susceptible to the unforeseen impacts technology might have on our ability to survive.
    My hope is that Techno-optimism and pessimism do not accurately describe anyone because both views are extremely skewed. My view is in line with Lowrance’s position that humanity must continue to produce technology, because it has far too many positive aspects, but we will undoubtedly confront “tragic decisions” in the future in order to preserve our quality of life. That is to say humans will come upon technology, like genetic engineering, that can be enticing from the outset but further down the road it may reveal itself to be jeopardizing our human freedoms or possibly even our lives. The tragic decisions made to end research despite the technology’s tantalizing aspects will hopefully preserve our lives. Therefore, I believe we must approach technology the same way we should approach our government: with healthy skepticism.

  10. StephieDav says:

    As the post states, it’s difficult to find someone who is a complete techno optimist, or a complete techno pessimist. I tend to side more with the techno pessimist side. I see the reasons that technological optimism is a valid perspective. The reason for this, is that the positive effects of technology are difficult to deny, and seen in many aspects of our life. Without technology we would not have most of the many conveniences, and scientific advancements we have today. How can I say that technology is bad given the fact that technology is the reason some of my family members are alive. How can I say technology is bad when it has provided us with methods of ensuring cleanliness in our food and water, and heat in our homes. Regardless of the fact that I can recognize the benefits of technology, I can also recognize the drawbacks. Of course it creates a lot of dependence, and impersonal connections between people and their individual medias. Not just that, but by trying to further technology we increasingly jeopardize our efforts to save the environment. We constantly attempt to make everything “green” but regardless of the fact that something is green, we’re still creating and making green things run by using old harmful technologies. We now have electric cars, and they’re considered more “green” than gas run vehicles. In some senses they are, because you’re not using gas, but on the other hand you’re using more electricity, which is acquired either by nuclear means, or by burning of fossil fuels. If everyone switched to electric cars, wouldn’t we just be trading one evil for another? I believe that technology is contributing to a lot of negative effects on the environment, as well as on human relationships, but what can we do? The positive effects it contributes, won’t allow us to move away from technology, or become more independent of it.

  11. mike221 says:

    I am more on the side of the techno-pessimists, though not completely so.

    Technology has surely provided us with means for improving our lives. Medical technology has improved the length of our lives, people in wealthy nations often have access to cheap electricity and food, and the Internet allows us to communicate with people all over the world and to find out about all kinds of things with little effort. All of this belongs to the fulfillment of the promise of technology, as philosopher of technology Albert Borgmann puts it in his book Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life.

    Even if technology has improved our lives in some ways, in other ways technological developments pose ecological, social, and ethical problems. Most generally, very often today we interact with reality as a commodity. Just as we can turn on the tap to get some water, we can quickly, easily and safely send an email, access pornography, or get fast food. If all this represents an advance from previous ways of doing things, where we had to put much more effort into what we were doing, at the same time this represents a profound loss for our quality of life. Instead of spending a long amount of time composing a letter to send to an acquaintance, we send a quick email or comment on someone’s status update on Facebook. Instead of gathering together with our family to cook and share a meal, each member of the family has his own bag of food from MacDonalds, and the television’s presence precludes any conversation. Television itself is a good example of engaging with reality as a commodity. Quite often, we simply turn on the television and passively let the images play on our eyeballs, rather than taking up a more demanding, skillful and rewarding activity.

    So, we can’t let the blessings of technology and a technological culture blind us to their downsides. I haven’t even mentioned the ecological and ethical dimensions, but suffice it to say that there are profound injustices and inequalities in the ways in which the benefits of technology- from medicine to healthcare to potable water- are distributed. But perhaps the main reason why I’m more sympathetic to the pessimists is that I think we really need to question our drive toward control and mastery of nature, so that everything comes to be subject to our manipulation and derives its value mainly from its instrumental potentialities. When the world appears as something mainly to be changed according to our will, it loses its value as something intrinsically interesting and compelling, and becomes subject to the control of narcissistic, control-driven, commodified individuals.

  12. Tani Pozirekides says:

    I don’t specifically consider myself a strict technological optimist or either a technological pessimist, I believe that with almost every aspect of all technologies, there are positive and negative qualities. I think that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter generally allow us to interact with our friends and family more easily. Through various facets such as instant messaging, messaging, and the faceook “wall” as well as sharing pictures, links, videos and many other items, Facebook allows for a community to interact with each other simultaneously or individually and share the same information. This being said, social networking sites may detract from person contact in some instances, but in a lot of cases, many people communicate over these sites with others where they would have not been able to keep in touch as easily. There are numerous factors that go into communication, and in my personal experience, social networking sites have made it easier for me to keep in touch with both close friends and family as well as people I know that I do not see on a regular basis.

    I also think that the solution to the climate crisis is both a matter of human change as well as technological efforts. Many technologies such as solar energy, biofuels, and other developments help curb carbon output and conserve energy. However, there is still a great deal that can be done with human effort, such as greater efforts toward recycling, using renewable resources, and conserving energy.

    I think that for the most part, medical technology has been extremely helpful. The technologies of x-rays, antibiotics, arthroscopic surgery, and biomedical research has not only worked to cure diseases and pioneer surgical techniques, but to improve upon existing technologies that are less invasive and more efficient for doctors and their patients. However, in the Time article “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal”, researchers predict that with the rate that computers and technologies are advancing, the gap between humans and computers is closing. The argument here is that we need to be careful with how technology and computers are advancing, and make sure that it does not interfere with core aspects of humanity, especially with neuroethics and brain surgeries that can be personality altering, such as commisurotomies on epileptics.

    For environmental problems that are non-technical in nature, such as food shortages and poverty, agricultural biotechnology is definitely a type of technology that could be considered useful, if implemented properly. However, one of the problems with global food shortage is not that there is not enough food and sustenance in the world as a whole, it is only in certain regions that there are severe issues with food-shortage. In this case, it is about being able to catalyze these economies and make sure that food is affordable and accessible to people of all socioeconomic classes, not just increasing production of agriculture and food on a global scale without a plan to make sure that it gets to where it is needed most.

    Grossman, Lev. “Time.” http://www.Time.com. Time, 10/2/2011. Web. 10 Feb 2011. .

  13. Casey Cronin says:

    If I had to choose between techno-optimist or techno-pessimist, I would consider myself a techno-optimist. I think that technology has bettered our society in many ways. I think that as our nation has evolved so has our technology. I think that it has “improved our lives for the better,” by allowing us to have constant communication with anyone else in the world, to a certain extent. This is a huge improvement from 100 years ago, when there was no way of direct communication with another person, who was thousands of miles away from you. However, I think with certain issues I am a techno-pessimist.
    When I think about Facebook, Twitter and cell phones, I tend to now have a techno-pessimist view. Yes, I believe these social networking sites/ way of communications has increased our ability to communicate. However, I think that it does have a negative affect on our society. I think that we become addicted to such forms of communication. Personally, I now check my facebook at least 5 times a day. And for what, to see if I have another notification? I get so wrapped up in this form of communication that I forget about what is important; like spending time with people, or reading a book to learn more. This becomes a true problem when I decide to spend more time on facebook than talking to people or reading a book. I don’t believe texting or going on these social networks create better emotional relationships. I think instead they consume our full attention that in fact should be spent in other ways. I think the only true way to create real friendships or relationships is by communicating face to face.
    When considering the climate crisis, I think I am a techno-optimist. I think that technology will help us research ways to reduce energy. As well I think technology will then help us create different solutions to solve our climate problems. Without technology how would we know what to change? It helps us locate our problems, and then fix them.
    When I think about how technology has affected our medical advances, my first thought is it truly has. But then I thought about it and did some research. I searched for some information pertaining to this topic and found an article called, “New Technology, Medical Advances Likely To Contribute to Growing Medicare Costs, Study Says” at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/31185.php. This article talks about how due to the advancement of technology, yes, it has created life saving machines, like cardiac defibrillators, but as a result it has created problems. This study goes on to say that if half the people who suffer from heart problems or have had heart attacks access these machines, Medicare expenses would rise by 4 % or 14 billion dollars. So as a society we are left with the question, how do we afford it? After reading this, I believe technology has allowed us to make extreme medical advancements that are useful and helpful, however, once they are made it leaves us as a society to figure out how to afford it, which creates problems.
    When I think about issues that are non-technical in nature, like food shortages and poverty, I think that agricultural biotechnology could be helpful. However, I think humans need to first make a change in their behavior before we implement technology. If they don’t change their behavior, agricultural biotechnology will just encourage the behavior that created such a situation in the first place.

    New technology, medical advances likely to contribute to growing medicare costs, study says . (2005, September 27). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/31185.php

  14. EKay says:

    This article discusses the influence, growing popularity, benefits and consequences of social networking. I am more of a techno optimist because I believe technology has multiple advantages that help society. These advantages include contacting people and chatting with people who are not physically present. Technology is only beneficial when humans use it appropriately, however. That is, humans cannot become completely dependent on technology, be scared of technology or let technology control themselves. It is important that people realize this with technologies such as social networking. Social networking has become such an integrated part of the American culture that according to a recent report in the Pew Internet & American Life Project (2010), “nearly three quarters (73%) of online teens and an equal number (72%) of young adults use social network sites.” From observing my friends, I have noticed that social networking has become such a large part of young adult’s lives that some of them even use social networking as a replacement for face-to-face interactions. For example, one of my friends is a completely different person when she communicates on facebook verses when she has a face-to-face interaction with another person. She uses facebook as a way to further her friendships rather than furthering her relationships in face-to-face/personal interactions. When individuals use social networking sites as the basis for their friendship, as my friend does, I feel that social networking inhibits or lessens the quality of human relationships, a topic that this article discusses. When I see my friends becoming completely dependent on social networking, I think of myself as a techno pessimist. This is because I see technology as only having a detrimental affect on people like my friend. However, I realize that this is the individual’s problem and not technology’s fault. With the ever-growing field and utilization of technology, as shown in the PEW report, it is easy for individuals to blame technology and allow it to control themselves. In reality, however, humans are smarter than technology and when they put in the effort, they can make technology a compliment to their lives rather than an interference or disturbance.

    Lenhart, Amanda, Purcell, Kristen, Smith, Aaron, Zickuhr, Kathryn. Social Media and
    Young Adults. Pew Internet & American Life Project, February 3,2010,
    http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx
    accessed on February 10, 2010.

  15. RLDavidson says:

    I can wholeheartedly identify myself as a techno-pessimist. However, while it’s easy for me to say that, my lifestyle depends on technology and all of its’ developments. I think I disagree mostly with the philosophy behind technology. People today have lost a sense of work ethic because we’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s better to opt for a convenient alternative to a problem. Technology can do work, calculations, editing, and other skills that more and more often renders people useless. Furthermore, the greater majority of the public is becoming lazy due to new developments that all seem to focus primarily on making things “easier.” Technology is contributing to the dumbing-down of society and rendering our youngest generations helpless to its’ offerings. Our children are growing up in front of the television fascinated by media and obsessed with video games. Kids today prefer to stay isolated inside rather than with friends running around and getting adequate exercise. And what kinds of video games are keeping them locked up in their rooms, shying further away from the light of day? The most popular and greatest-selling video games are usually ones that involve stealing cars, war games or otherwise graphic violence, killing zombies, and may or may not include inappropriate sexual conduct. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “violent video game play was positively related to aggressive behavior and delinquency” as well as “aggressive thoughts and behavior.” There’s no surprise there, since children are being exposed to these dangerous types of media at such young and impressionable ages.

    I believe that the greatest problem that these developments have created is in the way that technology has completely revolutionized our relationships with others. Social networking sites have provided people with the means to say anything with either total anonymity or with the illusion of a sort of shield. Conversations online can’t be considered completely real, and many people recognize this in their interactions with others. Online messages can be misunderstood, over or under emphasized, or perceived as verbal attacks. The same can be said for messages sent by personal communication tools. Cell phones, like the internet, create a buffer or a distance between people. The greatest danger in the maintenance of relationships is when some choose to use these outlets for conversations that should be held face-to-face. It’s incredibly hard, if not impossible, to fully discuss and disclose feelings over a 2×2 inch screen and through plain text words. Related above, older children and young teens are growing up in a world where this is more and more common. Relationships are beginning and being maintained at a surface level that relies heavily on communications and other social technologies. Not only are we losing a sense of ourselves, we are losing a sense of the natural world by relying on and putting so much emphasis on technology. I truly believe that the world could be a better place if we lessened our dependence on these developments and focus instead on real, concrete things and meanings in our lives.

    Anderson, C.A., & Dill, K.E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(4), Retrieved from http://web.clark.edu/mjackson/anderson.and.dill.html

    • SRiley says:

      I agree with the laziness factor that is talked about in this post. Modern day technology, and even technologies in the past, have been created to make our lives easier. The wheel was invented to easily transport items. The vacuum was invented to help with cleaning the home. The phone was created for easy and quick communication between two places. All of these things that are technology inventions are all restraining us from spending time in the outdoors. Like the post talks about above, video games, computer games, and television all distract us from being in our environment. Even the invention of the treadmill has made working out inside easier when people could be taking a jog out in the fresh air. I feel as though technology is isolating us from the problems that are happening with the environment because we are never outside long enough to see the real effects of pollution, littering, and smog. How are we suppose to solve the worlds environmental problems if we are not experiencing them first hand?

      I agree with the post above which states that we are too dependent on modern day technology. By placing all of our trust in an easily collapsible market, we could be greatly effected if modern day technology started to fail. We need to be sure that we can live without technology in case the worst case scenario occurs. In order to be prepared, we need to run drills and make plans as to how function without the daily technology we have today. The main thing is that we need to practice these places. New Orleans had many plans of action as to what to do in case the levees broke. However, when the levees actually collapsed, New Orleans was left in a state of disorder and destruction because their plan was not executed. We need to be able to make sure that if technology should fail us, we will have a plan in order to keep functioning as a community, state, or country. We need to become aware that our dependence on technology is too strong, and we need to make changes in order to survive if technology should fail.

      • AEsquibel says:

        While I completely agree that violent video games and excessive use of Television is detrimental to people especially children I do not believe that it has people have lost a sense of work ethic because of this. While technology makes it a lot easier for people to do things that does not mean they are not working anymore they are just using technology as a means of doing this work. Take education for example before the invention of the internet and computers yes it was harder for people to find information but the technologies available have led to much more work for the student. There never used to be such difficult assignments or complicated teaching styles or projects like there are today. Schooling and education is where most children learn their work ethic so if we are doing more work and more complicated work due to new technologies I would argue that it instills a better and higher work ethic.

        In regards to the argument that technology and social networks are detrimental to society I completely disagree. Yes people may say things online that they would not in person and I have already expressed my concerns about cyber bullying but these things are so minor compared to the benefits of communication technologies. Since they have the ability to eliminate physical distance and space as a factor as far as communication is concerned, they have changed our lives for the better. Cell phones do the opposite of creating a buffer; they actually defeat the buffer of distance in communication. Without cell phones we would not be able to talk to people who are mobile and this would create numerous problems. Conversations via cell phones have become a necessary part of my and most peoples lives and while they may create some sort of fake or surface conversation at least there is the possibility of the conversation.

  16. SRiley says:

    Even though I do use technology on a daily, if not hourly, basis, I believe I am a techno-pessimist. I not a complete techno-pessimist, but I do believe it is cause more harm that good. I think the main thing for me is that it skews people world view. First, people believe that technology will fix any problem such as world poverty. However, that technology is not invented yet, and if we wait around too long, more people will begin to be effect world poverty. It is the same with green energy. Yes, it is good that we are creating this technology to help the earth. However, we are still causing damage to our earth. In a Power-Gen article called “Renewable energy technology points the way to cleaner, greener future,” Merlin Hyman states that even though the green energy movement is spreading across the United States, “the amount of renewable electricity generated in the South West last year provided for just over 3 per cent of the electricity we consumed.” (http://www.powergenworldwide.com/index/display/wire-news-display/1357152870.html). Even though we have only been working on renewable energy for a couple years now, a third of our country only used three percent green energy. We need to take action now as humans or we will eventually kill that planet while waiting around for more green technology to be created.

    Another issue I have with technology and social media networks in particular is that it does not allow people to form meaningful and long lasting relationships. On the internet, you can be whoever you want. On facebook, one can create a persona for themselves that is totally opposite of how they act in real life. When using technology, it is hard to judge a person’s character. Technology takes time away from face to face socializing and it is diminishing our social skills as humans. The Toronto Star article “Is the Internet detrimental to human relationships?”(http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/930153–is-the-internet-detrimental-to-human-relationships) took a survey of what people think of social media and its advances. One journalist stated “I was just in a session where a wonderful new app was described: wave your phone at someone and it will identify them based on photos in which they are tagged. Ummm . . . couldn’t you just ask them who they are?” Technology is making human relationships seem less important that what they really turn out to be when people do have face to face interactions.

    Even though I do use technology, I believe that we are waiting around for technology to somehow fix all of our problems when, in fact, the development of technology can be slow. This slow process will allow our problems to increase thus needing a more advanced technology, which will then be produced even slower than the one before. So, even though I use technology daily, I am a techno-pessimist because technology causing world problems to continue without us humans fixing them.

    • AHabbas says:

      Although I consider myself to be a techno-optimist, I am able to recognize the problems that techno-pessimists have with technology, which include the negative effects technology might have on humanity or how humans can become dependent on technology. I agree with the fact that we tend to rely on technology for different reasons and that we can sometimes use technology as a source in helping fix problems. However, although I understand the techno-pessimist point of view, I do not completely agree with it. Specifically, I do not believe that technology is doing more harm than good, but is instead helpful and beneficial within different societies, cultures, or the world entirely.

      Individuals living in today’s generation rely heavily on technology; however, individuals do not always regard technology as the final solution to all problems. When considering issues such as world poverty or green energy, I do not agree that technologies negatively affect these issues. Instead, technology can positively contribute to each of these issues. Instead of creating problems, different types of technologies, such as social networking sites or television shows, can help increase and raise awareness about certain issues. For example, sites such as Facebook allow organizations to create profiles and write descriptions regarding certain issues. Daily news shows are also a type media that raise awareness of particular issues and events. It is clear that we do not rely entirely on technology to fix certain problems for us, but instead use technology as an aid in reaching our final goal(s).

      When observing the effects of social media networks on individuals, I understand how the techno-pessimist might regard such networks as detrimental to forming long lasting relationships or how social networking sites can diminish an individuals social skills; however, I think that social media networks are types of technologies that are actually helpful in the formation of relationships and a place where socializing can be increased. Online access gives individuals the chance to participate in a virtual world different from that of their physical world. Technology, specifically online access, gives individuals the chance to find the happiness they might be lacking in their physical world in a virtual world. For example, one social networking sight, Second life, is a site where individuals can live a life in the virtual world in anyway that they choose. Individuals can create a character with a specific look, and participate in any activities within their virtual world. Individuals can also chat with other users of the game and can form several different relationships. Second Life gives users the chance to live out their version of a utopia, or perfect world, if they choose to do so, which will ultimately lead to an increase in happiness. Online dating sites, such as eHarmony or match.com, are other social networking sites that give individuals the chance to form relationships and socialize with others. Individuals who might find trouble forming relationships in their physical world are given a second chance in their virtual world. Specifically, individuals are given the chance to find someone online and create or form relationships online that they do not have in the physical world.

      It is clear that technology seems to do more good than harm, which can be observed in several instances. When we consider technology and the effects it has on issues in our world, such as issues relating to poverty or green energy, we are able to see how technology can benefit our world and us. We do not regard technology as the final solution to our problems, but instead consider technology as an aid in helping us in our efforts to solve problems. As far as social media networks, technology does not prove to be detrimental to forming relationships or socializing. Technology gives us access to another world online where we can find happiness, socialize in anyway we choose and form different types of relationships.

  17. AEsquibel says:

    When determining if I am a techno-optimist or techno-pessimist I look at two questions; how has technology influenced my life, and how has technology influenced society as a whole. It is hard to designate a positive or negative answer to this so to explain all of technologies influence I will use the example of social networking sites to explain. In regards to my life, social networking sites seem to have an overwhelmingly positive influence. It has enabled me to stay connected with friends and family that I am no longer in physical contact with as well as providing a convenient realm to converse with all of my friends. Sharing pictures, messages, and posts via Facebook has given me the ability to connect with my friends on levels that were not possible before social networking and that I would not do when physically interacting with them. Although it is called a social networking site Facebook is also how I gather a lot of information. This may not be specifically intellectual information but it allows me to generate new ideas, keep track of social happenings throughout the world, and hear different perspectives on events that without it I would not have access to. The one drawback of social networking sites is that it takes up much of my time that could be put towards more productive activities. While this is true, the benefits for me far outweigh this one negative. People argue that social networking decreases the actual amount of social interactions one will have, but for me this is not the case. I have more of my social interactions online but these interactions lead to physical ones and have overall lead to much higher amount of social interactions. Looking at social networking sites influence on society is a more complex issue. While it is very true that these sites have the capability to connect people beyond the physical barriers they face, there are negative effects to take into account. There are extreme privacy issues regarding social networking sites that are concerning. Publishers of these sites seem to be more concerned with making a profit and disregard the safety and privacy of the user. This has led to an increase in commercialization on sites, which distracts from their purpose. As far as concerns about social networking replacing physical interactions I am not convinced in the slight. I believe humans will always need and seek out physical social interactions and the emergence and use of these sites will not erase this.

    Using this example I find myself identifying with the techno-optimist side easily. I believe in the importance and benefits of communication and social networking sites are a main way of achieving this. While I can see the dangers of these things such as the recent trend of Internet led suicides I believe that suicides due to teasing would occur weather they were instigated via Internet or physically. Also as in the case of Mary Bale, who abused a cat, social sites are being used to actually catch lawbreakers and deviants. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/fashion/26shaming.html?sq=social%20networking%20negative%20effects&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&scp=6&adxnnlx=1297418534-ZddTa38Y365QmgQDx3Vt1g. I side with the techno-optimists with caution and I believe that many technologies have a distinctly negative impact on society. All in all technology is an essential and for the most part positive part of my life and the rest are merely necessary evils.

    • Tani Pozirekides says:

      Technology can definitely be seen as a “necessary evil” in that we are almost forced to keep up with it if we wish to stay engaged in modern society. While there is a generational gap with many technologies, this gap usually just means that it takes longer for those who are not used to the new mediums to begin utilizing them and becoming familiar with the advancements. Without technology, our lives in many ways would be harder, including transportation, communication, and effectiveness in many arenas. However, it can definitely deprive us of certain experiences and becoming closer with our surroundings as well as the process of doing things manually or in different ways that are maybe more time consuming but beneficial nonetheless.

      As far as bullying and internet-related suicides are concerned, I agree that bullying would persist and maybe be as much of an issue even without the internet presence. However, these instances are now more readily available through the media and are reported to a larger audience with the rise of more online news sources. While cyber bullying is without question a serious issue, it is not the only form of harassment, and that would continue in other forms.

  18. EKay says:

    This blog discusses the possibility of being in between a techno-pessimist and a techno-optimist. That is, technology has both advantages and disadvantages. I agree that technology has both its advantages and disadvantages but because I think that the benefits outweigh the consequences, I am a techno-optimist. I feel that technology is a great way to start or raise awareness about an issue; however, it is not the place to take action about an issue. Humans cannot completely depend on technology to fix problems because technology can only do so much and go so far. Humans have and always will be smarter than and in control of technology so humans should not look to technology as completely solving life’s crisis.
    In one of my sociology classes, I realized that social networking sites, such as facebook, are beneficial in that they can help raise awareness about an issue. They can do little more than raise awareness, however. For example, in the past, women have posted their bra colors as their facebook status to raise awareness about breast cancer. One friend may see this status, post it for his five hundred friends to see and this pattern continues. More and more people will be informed about breast cancer, but there is no actual money going towards finding a cure just through facebook. People on facebook may see this status and then decide to donate money. Thus, facebook is a great way to raise awareness, but it is not enough to actually fix the problem at hand. The Pew Internet & American Life Project report did a study of voluntary groups or organizations of adults who, within a year, achieved a goal that they set. The Pew (2011) reported that of these groups, 46% think that technology, especially facebook, had a major role in raising awareness about an issue, 36% think that technology had a minor role and 18% think that it had no role. The same group thought that 26% had a major role in solving or changing a local problem, 38% had minor role and 36% though that it had no role in solving or changing a local problem. Thus, the reports illustrates that technologies, specifically facebook, are much more beneficial to society for raising awareness verses taking action other than raising awareness.
    This idea that social networking is a good starting place pertains to friendships as well. Facebook is a great way to contact with people and ask to hang out with them, but it is not a great way to form deep, meaningful friendships. Face-to-face interactions have a personal aspect to them that social networking sites cannot compete with. Maykai Mei, a Creating Marketing Manger at Moxie.com, said that on social networking sites, “people are selling themselves, like a product. They are selling themselves as really interesting people, even when there is no product to be sold.” Individuals often utilize facebook to make themselves into whoever they want to be and then form friendships. These friendships are not genuine because the individual is making himself into someone he is not. Again, facebook can be used to start a friendship but it should not be used to deepen a friendship. Mei also touched on how social networking sites are going to increase in popularity and some people may be better at using it appropriately than others. Social networking sites are only going to become bigger and bigger, and those who use it appropriately will benefit while those who abuse technology and implement it into every single aspect of their lives will not benefit from social networking sites.
    This article also posed a question about the environment. It asked whether or not humans can depend completely on technology to solve the climate crisis or if humans should change their behavior. I believe that technology can help the environment but the main way to reduce environmental problems is through human behavior. Hybrid cars are the perfect example of technology helping the environment because they reduce the amount of gasoline. Technology, such as hybrids, however, can be used as an aid in helping humans reduce global warming, pollution, etc., but it is ultimately up to humans to put in the effort to choose to drive hybrids, not drive around aimlessly wasting gas, take shorter showers, unplug their chargers when they are not using them, etc. Again, technology is a useful place to start in helping the environment, but it is not good to depend on technology for solving the all of the environmental problems in the world.
    In summary, I am a techno-optimist because I think that technologies benefits outweigh the disadvantages. As discussed above, it allows people to contact each other, raise awareness and help reduce environmental problems. It can only benefit society, however, as long as the majority of people make the effort and understand that technology cannot be used to replace human action and face-to-face interactions. Furthermore, people should not fear this technology and allow it to take control of their lives. Machines have a power switch that humans can turn off immediately and humans need to realize this before they think technology is smarter than humans. Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media, discusses the idea of a global village in which the world is interconnected by technology rather than being separated and isolated by technology. He says that to create this global village, every single human has to want to utilize and improve technology for the good of society. I agree with McLuhan, as humans have to put in the effort to get the benefits of technology rather than being afraid of technology and letting it overcome humanity.
    In short, technology is a great starting place for humans to start solving their problems, but it is not a way to solve problems completely. The only way to solve problems completely is through human effort and action.

    References

    (M. Mei, lecturer, February 10, 2011).

    Rainie, Lee, Smith, Aaron Purcell. Social Side of the Internet. Pew Internet & American
    Life Project, January 18, 2011, http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx accessed on February 12, 2010.

    Symes, B. (1995, May 26): Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’. Retrieved from
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/bas9401.html

  19. amolloy says:

    I know that I would like nothing more in the world to justify my technological obsession as having a positive impact on my life, however I think that in all honestly I am a techno-pessimest, who is much too addicted to do anything about it.

    I spend a lot of time wasting away in front of tumblr and facebook, and I feel that while I may be very tech savvy, I can become instantly helpless if I forget to bring my iDevices and Blackberry with me. And spending extended periods of time without them starts a nasty withdrawl period.

    I experienced this three years ago in high school where for a project I had to spend a full week without using electricity. I was able to last a few days before I binged and then gave up. Today I feel like I am even more wired than I was before. I may overuse technology, and be addicted to it, and I can recognise that fact, but to me I can’t see myself doing anything else, which makes me a rather odd techno-pessimist.

    http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/when-technology-addiction-takes-over-your-life?page=3

  20. Casey Cronin says:

    I completely agree with Alec. I think that when I look at my addiction to technology, I would have to say I am a techno-pessimist. I have gone through these same withdrawals that Alec went through when he did not have electricity for a week. When I was a freshman here at SCU I took a Mass Communication course. For our first project we did a technology fast for two days. During those two days whenever we felt a need to use technology we had to log it onto a piece of paper. I ended up recording 4 pages of results. I had to log every 30 minutes, it was out of control. I felt a longing need to use my cell phone, I couldn’t live without it.
    I also feel like I am lost without technology. The other day I questioned my Mom about how she picked up people from the airport before cell phones were invented. This thought blew my mind. This is because every time I am traveling, I: text the person who is picking me up when I am boarding, call them when I land, and then call the person when I am walking outside from the airport. When I am picking someone up, I have my cell phone attached to me, so that they can call me if, for example, their flight is delayed.

    These two examples support Alec’s point that both of our technological obsessions have led us to have a techno-pessimist view.

  21. Evan says:

    I would say that I’m 98% Techno-Optimist, and 100% Statist-Pessimist. That is to say, I don’t think the problems with technology are actually problems with technology, but rather, problems with how the State permits or denies, or grants greater or lesser access to resources, to certain types of technologies.

    The military industrial complex is a fundamental example of what I’m talking about. There are a ton of useful technologies out there, such as microwave ovens, that were developed on military budgets, but the overwhelming majority of the tech developed with those budgets has been detrimental to human society. Similarly, great technologies that could/would/should have much better support, such as stem-cell research, the government bans and refuses to fund.

    If I had to guess at a percentage, I would say that the State causes all but 2% of the technological problems. The remaining 2% are caused by individuals using technology for perverted purposes of some sort, such as murder or as an addiction.

    When the Singularity arrives, our robot superiors will be kind and benevolent, not Terminators…unless the military builds them with the express intent of wiping us all out. As I said: the State is the problem, not the tech.

    • Kim says:

      I do not believe that the state is the problem here. I believe that since we make up the state and all other social institutions, we are the innate problem in the system. If there is a problem with technology, than it is a problem with ourselves and we need to address that first and foremost. We have a desire to protect what we have and what we make, thus the large technological military; we want to make money and make a name for ourselves, thus a large capitalist driven system that regulates our technology. We like to be selfish, have what we want when we want it, and we like to have the best and brightest innovation at the earliest opportunity, thus we are motivated by our desire to have technology but only as long as it can serve our every interest, both positive and negative. The government is not the evil person in this scenario simply because we are our government, and even though the innovations that it creates are used for less than noble purposes in many cases, does not mean that they cannot provide something beneficial four us in the long run or spin-off an amazing technology that corrects another issue. I am an optimist and I believe that we can make decisions regarding both our technology and the social institutions that govern their use. We have the power, not the government, not the man, not any technology that we possess. We direct, dictate, and determine our technology and context.

  22. AHabbas says:

    The techno-optimist applauds the advancements and improvements that technology has made in our lives and presents views that support new or existing technological innovations. On the other hand, the techno-pessimist considers the problems that technology has created within the world and questions whether or not the autonomy of technology will continue to bring about problems throughout the world. In the blog, “Are you a Techno-Optimist or a Techno-Pessminist?,” the author wants individuals to understand that considering oneself as a techno-optimist does not mean that you are obsessed with technology and further, that being a techno-pessimist does not mean that you are completely withdrawn from technology. Instead, the author wants readers to consider whether he or she feels that technology plays a large role in bringing about positive or negative changes in our world and whether or not we support these changes. After comparing the different viewpoints of the techno-optimist and the techno-pessimist, I would consider myself to be a techno-optimist.

    When observing historical changes, it is clear that our world has undergone several positive developments and advancements. We have come a long way since rotary dial telephones or dial-up connections that allowed us to access the Internet. I find myself to be a techno-optimist because I recognize and support the changes and advancements that technology has brought into our world. Technology has not only increased and made our communication and interaction with one another easier, but it has also allowed us to engage with others in ways we have never been able to do on prior occasions. When focusing on social networking sites, Sherry Turkle provides an example of how technology can be beneficial in our lives. In her book, “Alone Together,” Turkle discusses the virtual world and how technology, particularly Internet access, has allowed us to participate in the virtual world, create an identity different from that in the physical world, and live a life entirely different from our life offline. Turkle explains Second Life, a social networking site that gives individuals the ability to create their own character and live out a life in the virtual world. Individuals who participate in social networking sites have the ability to find the happiness online that they feel they might be lacking in their physical world.

    Alternative social networking sites, such as Facebook, have increased our communication and relationships with others in the sense that we have been given the option to communicate with others in entirely different parts of the world, as well as create an identity in any way we choose (i.e., through the uploading of pictures and constructing a “description” about ourselves on our own profile). In addition, technology and online access has allowed us to do so much more. In their article, “Engaging stakeholders through social networking: How nonprofit organizations are using Facebook,” Richard Waters, Emily Burnett, Anna Lamm, and Jessica Lucas, describe how we use social networking sites for other purposes. After examining 275 non-profit organizations, Waters, Burnett, Lamm and Lucas, have recognized how social networking sites, such as Facebook, have helped non-profit organizations increase awareness about their particular organization(s). Specifically, non-profit organizations have the ability to create profiles online, post information about their organizations, and increase fundraising efforts. Technological developments, such as online access, have not only offered ways in which individuals are able to communicate in simple and efficient ways, but have also caused us to see how technology has become one of the solutions or steps toward dealing with certain issues in our world, while allowing us to become more aware of the world around us.

    Technology has also allowed us to do so much more than communicate with one another. For example, the benefits of technology can be recognized within the medical field. New and old technological innovations have allowed individuals within the medical field to learn more about diseases, disorders, medical disorders, or even problems in general relating to healthcare. Michael A. De Miranda, A. Mark Doggett and Jane T. Evans set forth how technological innovations have made several advancements within the medical field. Many technological innovations and contributions have been made since the production of tools such as the microscope, x-ray, or several other technologies, which allowed medical experts to diagnose patients in a certain way. Devices that have been introduced over time, such as diagnostic devices, measurement and testing devices, therapeutic devices, preventive devices, monitoring devices, imaging devices, prosthetic devices, or a host of additional miscellaneous devices, have helped medical professionals not only observe certain problems relating to patients or individuals, but have also given professionals the ability to see what they can do to satisfy or solve problems. Without technological developments, such advancements in the medical field would not have been possible.

    As addressed above, I certainly consider myself to be a techno-optimist. I recognize the advancements that technology has made and how it benefits individual societies, or even our whole world. Although I do not consider myself to be a complete cyborg, or an individual constantly connected to the Net, I recognize the benefit of certain technologies, whether for the purpose of increasing the means and efficiency of communicating with others, or how specific tasks can be completed at an easier and efficient rate. Technological advancements have proved to be very beneficial within our world. This can easily be recognized from the advancements technology has made in the areas of how efficiently and easily we communicate with people all over the world through social networking sites or in the field of medical advancements, or in conducting research and accessing information about virtually any topic or field. Technology has made a profound impact upon our lives and it is a foregone conclusion that advancements in technology will continue to introduce new innovations, products and/or developments that will benefit individuals throughout the entire world.

    Works Cited:

    De Miranda, M., Doggett, M., Evans, J. (2005). Medical
    Technology. Retrieved From http://www.wku.edu/~mark.doggett/MedTechPrimer6.0.pdf

    Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York, NY:Basic Books.

    Waters, R. D., Burnett, E., Lamm, A., & Lucas, J. (2009). Engaging stakeholders through social networking: How nonprofit organizations are using Facebook. Public Relations Review, 35(2), 102-106. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2009.01.00

  23. epostell says:

    I would say that my view on technology lies between techno-optimism and techno-pessimism. I believe that technology is good for us in that it brings us beneficial advances, but also as Sherry Turkle says in Alone Together, that there is a place for technology. I recognize the benefits that technology has brought to us over multiple fields, such as communication, medicine and alternative energy but I do also believe that at times we become too caught up in technology.

    With communication I believe that the technologies that we have such as social medias, telephones, and even skype have been good at further developing relationships and informing us of what is going on around the world. With our mass social medias it connects people around the world and allows us to constantly communicate with each other, and within a minute find out about a world event or crisis that is going on- through Facebook and Twitter. But also, we must recognize how some people become too caught up in social medias. Some use them in wrong ways to not expand their relationships but form new false identities for themselves that have no true benefit to themselves. Also, people become “addicted” to Facebook and Twitter and constantly have to check their social medias and always be online. I believe people who use social medias in this way are abusing the technology. When people are too tuned into the online world I do believe that they can become disconnected from the real world by wasting time online, that they could be spending on real relationships and the world around them. This can be detrimental to our relationships by overusing social medias and while trying to connect to people, actually end up disconnecting ourselves from our physical reality.

    Another benefit that we have from technology is advancements in science and in medicine. I feel it is important for us to find cures from fatal diseases and find alternative energies to protect our world. These are important things that technology will help the “continued expansion of humans” (Costanza), but I am not on the side of some techno-optimists that believe technological advancements will fix all of are worlds problems and globalize nations, as Schwartz and Leyden explained in “The Long Boom: A History of the Future.”

    Technology has a large role in our culture, and gives us important benefits and advancements but technology is just a part of a culture, it is not something that is completely detrimental or determinant to our society.

    Works Cited:

    Costanza, R. (1999). Four visions of the century ahead: will it be star trek, ecotopia, big government or mad max? Futurist. 33(2), 23-29.

    Schwartz and Leyden, The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 – 2020 at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.07/longboom.html?topic=&topic_set=

    Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    • mileenz says:

      I completely agree with Erica’s point of view when she re-state’s Turkle’s idea that there is a place for every type of technology. As technology ‘users’ we have the ability to control how much or how little we use our computers, phones, tv’s, etc- however it is almost inevitable for many people to become hooked on various mediums. Turkle’s idea goes along with the common phrase “everything in moderation.” That is exactly how I feel about technology as well. It becomes too much/extreme when people are constantly checking their phones/Facebook/email during conversations with others or during class. I admit that I do this as well sometimes however it has become an awful habit because we are apart of a generation of digital natives we have known no other way of life except for a technological one. In my opinion, nowadays it takes more effort to become disconnected from the world and technological devices than to continue to stay connected with the world around us.

  24. agrodriguez says:

    Personally, I would have to call myself a technology optimist. Technology has various effects on societies but I agree with EKay in the statement that technology’s “benefits outweigh the disadvantages”. Technology allows for us to do things that were once unthinkable; from speaking to someone across the globe through the use of telephones or video chat, to being able to be physically present in a different part of the globe through new transportation. New technological innovations allow for us to remain connected with family and friends throughout the world, medical advances have been incredible and alternative energy has begun to enter our homes. Technology, specifically social media, has played a huge role in political decisions throughout the world.

    In January of 2011, the protesters in Egypt were outraged at what they claimed to be, “state corruption, police brutality and economic oppression”(Amir Hatem Ali, 2011). The protesters demanded that their president had to leave the country. These protesters used social media such as Facebook and Twitter to spread their thoughts and come together in what the called “Revolution Day”.The president at the time, Hosni Mubarak, “un-plugged” Egypt form the internet in efforts to euthanize the rebellion, but this act only caused further uproar until Mubarak resigned. Social Media played a huge role in the liberation of a country that was being suppressed by their government. This alone demonstrates the amazing things that technology can help us do.

    I praise almost all of the technological advances, but I am not a technological Utopian. Technology does have some negative impacts on society. I will be the first to admit that I almost go insane when I forget my cell phone somewhere or I have no internet access. furthermore, man people have become dependent on the technology around them. As a result, their ability to do what once was a simple task has been weakened. Sherry Turkle, the author of Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other, describes these people as “cyborgs”. These people, she says, have difficulty remembering appointments without their hand held devices that provide them with reminders. I would call myself a cyborg, but i do not blame this on technology. I firmly believe that technology is a convivial tool which allows us to decide its outcome and whether or not we want to use it. I do not think technology is to blame for creating “cyborgs” rather, humans create cyborgs out of themselves because of their dependency on technologies. Furthermore, some may argue that technology is used to harm others and this harm can be seen through cyber-bullying or lack of online privacy. Once again I would respond that it is not technology harming people, rather people using technology in a harmful manner.

    My Sources:

    Turkle, H. (2011). Alone together, why we expect more from technology and less from each other. Basic Books (AZ).

    Amir Hatem Ali, A. (2011). The power of social media in developing nations. 21

  25. mmhoward says:

    Generally, I would say that I’m a techno-optomist. I think for the most part, technology has helped us improve our daily lives, our health, our economy (at some points), and our environment. I think that without technology continuing to improve, societies would digress.

    That being said, I think there are some technologies that are useless and make us less productive which I like to call ‘lazy technology’. Those technologies I think are innovated by people who want to make a pretty buck and adopted by people who want the latest trend. I won’t get into the specifics of what I think qualify as lazy technology because I don’t want to offend anyone. However, I would not say that I’m a techno-pessimist…technology is a good thing. If anything my pessimism lies in humanity and what we do with technologies.

    ‘Beyond Us’ is by a professor in Barcelona, Spain who goes by the name of Valentí Rull. In his article, Professor Rull adresses techno-pessimism in the mentality of ‘technology will take over the world and exterminate humankind’. He says that ultimately our survival and the fate of the Earth depends on humans. As a cultural determinist, I think he is right. If we don’t want our society to get lazy or use technology for evil, then we should not make it possible for that to happen. We don’t need to stop technology because human ingenuity is inevitable and innovations will come regardless. What needs to be done is educate people on how to use technology properly, to not abuse it’s power and to not take it for granted.

    • mmhoward says:

      Rull, V. (2009, October 16). Beyond Us. EMBO Reports. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v10/n11/full/embor2009225.html

    • jcardosa says:

      I completely agree with your position on technology because even though there are some technology advancements that are unnecessary, innovations have mostly improved society. Without certain technology, we would not have been able to create a more efficient civilization or create the availability for medical solutions.
      I think that you’re right-technology is always going to exist and new innovations are constantly going to be invented. However, it is up to humanity as to how these technological advancements are put to use. Otherwise, technology will have complete power over people, causing negative results to happen. Technology must be used for a positive purpose, not just exist for unnecessary and distracting activities.

  26. mswindells says:

    I would say that I am more so a techno-pessimist. It is undeniable that there are many technological advancements that have greatly benefited our society, but I have to wonder, how would our society be without them? Growing up with all these technologies it is difficult to picture a life with out them, but what I often times wonder is how my relationships would be affected if the technologies were no longer present. Would my social etiquette now even be acceptable in a non-technological society? It’s not only relationships that I am concerned for. Professor Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist, from Oxford University poses another worry. She points out that already there is a growing number of people that take Prozac, Ritalin, and Paxil (a drug that supposedly can help with shyness) to “correct” what is wrong with their personalities. These “flaws”, as they are often seen, are what make us as humans unique. I know that I, personally, would not like to live in a world where everyone was near perfect, and with the spiraling effect of technology I feel that that is where we might be heading. Whether it is these drugs or plastic surgery technology has offered an alternative to people who are unhappy with they way they are, and while it is wonderful that it makes them feel better, it is kind of scary thinking that the human body can be altered so much whenever we feel like it. Greenfield continues to discuss how the brain is an organ that is extremely susceptible to change. Our brains react to stimuli and go through an actual physical transformation on the microcellular level. Her big worry is how violent video games will begin to shape the brain (in the article she talks about an interesting study done at Harvard Medical School demonstrating the malleability of adult brains). The numbing effects of computers and cell phones are also frightening. People become so absorbed in their devices that I don’t think they truly appreciate the world around them. Now through all this I am being very hypocritical of myself. I have currently been on my computer for a couple hours now, doing pretty much nothing, as well as sending texts on my phone. I think these technologies are wonderful, and they have certainly made my life easier, but I just can’t help but wonder if things would be simpler and easier if they didn’t exist, and it causes me to worry about the future; therefore I am a techno-pessimist.

    Greenfield, S. Modern Technology is Changing the Way Our Brains Think, Says Neuroscientist. Mail Online, Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-565207/Modern-technology-changing-way-brains-work-says-neuroscientist.html

    • mkleland says:

      I think it is interesting that you bring the issue of the way technology is affecting our biochemistry with ‘personality-correcting’ prescription drugs. I do think you’re right in saying that these flaws are what makes us human. But even further, these so-called flaws have been a part of society until the development of these drugs so brilliant thinkers of the past like Einstein for instance could have possibly have what might be considered a flaw today. Maybe he had mild depression, we don’t know. But we do know that his brilliant ideas had great affects and those could have been changed if his natural chemistry was altered with these drugs. I think our imperfections are natural and important for a heterogenous, diverse society, which I think has been beneficial in the past.

  27. jcardosa says:

    I think my view of technology is in between optimistic and pessimistic because sometimes I love technology and then other times I wish it never even existed.

    I feel at ease when I can easily get in touch with family or friends no matter the distance between us and I like feeling confident in societies’ medical advances. There is no doubt that technology has positively impacted the world and that it has honestly made everyone’s lives much easier. Computers and other advancements have allowed people to work more efficiently and communication to travel more quickly, causing society to move at a faster pace. I also love having my cell phone because it gives me a sense of safety, especially when I am alone. I constantly feel connected to everyone since I can talk to them with a click of a button.

    However, certain technology is sometimes unnecessary and definitely addicting. I love my “smart phone” because of what it allows me to accomplish yet I hate the feeling of helplessness that I get when I don’t have it with me. I also rely on facebook so much that I constantly waste my time, honestly doing nothing. It is rediculous that people feel the need to rely on “things” in order to live their life. Teenagers, especially, waste hours in front of the television or video games, distracting themselves from their studies.

    I completely agree with Turkel’s views in her work, “Alone Together.” It is getting to the point where technology is so incolved in our lives that it is actually running it. I had dinner with my friends the other night, but at one point I realized that none of us were talking. We were all on our phones and that is when I realized we actually are “alone together” like Turkel states. As much as I would like society to change, everyone, including myself, is too addicted to the amazing technology we have to do anything about it.

    Schwartz and Leyden, The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 – 2020 at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.07/longboom.html?topic=&topic_set=

    Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    • mmhoward says:

      Jackie,

      I agree with most of your points. Technology is amazing in that it can help us accomplish things more easily and with more accuracy. It also allows us to do more in less time. In my post I talked about human responsibility. I think people often forget about that aspect; we are involved in technology just as technology is involved in our lives. If you don’t want to be a slave to your smart phone, then don’t. I know it’s easier said than done, but I think one way we can help ourselves is by figuring out where we want technology to influence us in our individual lives. A lot of the “alone together” idea is not technology’s fault, it’s ours. The best way to overcome that annoying feeling is by possibly turning your phone off/on silent while you’re having a conversation with someone or during a meal.

      Malarie

  28. Kim says:

    I believe that I am an eternal optimist in ways not just regarding technology. I try to look on the bright side wherever I turn and because technology has become so prevalent in society, and promises to have both positives and negatives for us, I do try to believe that we can utilize technology to the best advantage. Now I would not go so far as to classify myself as a Utopian Determinist, I do not see technology solving all our problems, there are certain categories that technology helps us improve.

    According to Peter Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributor to Forbes Magazine, technology generates considerable advantages for us that cannot be ignored or denied. Take basic communication, technology has revamped the ways in which we convey our thoughts and ideas and raised them to a whole new plane of efficiency and volume. And when translated into the market “raw materials, labor, durable assests, consumer goods, capital, commodities, and money itself…every market–and at every step–faster, cheaper communication lowers the cost of consuming and producing”. We live in an economically driven world thus communication being improved allows for a better functioning society in all respects. Take our health as another area of development, biotechnology and nanotechnology promise to help us understand our genetic make-up and improve our health and medicinal fields. Scientists “will soon bioengineer bacteria” we could “design drugs to replace, boost or suppress anything in nature”, and we can create cars that sense roll-over and autocorrect our mistakes. We hold the key to vastly altering the ways in which we function whether personal or commerical, and that is a bright prospect for those standing on teh technological and social brink.

    I believe that we need to be optimistic in order to secure these futures. We cannot fear our creations or we will never develop them further or we will severely limit our own imagination of possibility. Optimism can become our self fulfilling prophecy, thus I wish to align myself with the side I believe will ultimately come out the winner.

    Huber, Peter. “Techno-Optimism”. Companies, People, Ideas. Forbes.com. 25 February 2008 http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0225/080.html 21 October 2011

  29. htayson says:

    I feel I fall in between techno-optimist and techno-pessimistic, much like most everyone else. I am an optimist in the sense of medical and basic lifestyle technologies. I believe that we as humans in 21st century America take for granted the medical capabilities that we have. We have new technologies regarding stem cells (as controversial as it may be) that can aid in rebuilding arteries throughout a person’s body. This procedure was first done in America to a man, John Christy, who had severe coronary artery disease. His own stem cells were used to grow new blood vessels in his heart and he was, in a sense, cured.

    Regarding basic lifestyle technologies, we have access to constant heat and air conditioning, cable, radio, electric stoves, dish washers, and clean running water. Many of these basic technologies were not even present half a century ago and now we think of them as secondary. These technologies, while maybe not completely necessary for survival, they definitely aid in every day life and allow us to perform better in other tasks.

    Where I stand as a techno-pessimist, however, is with the mobile devices and gadgets that have clearly proliferated our society and culture in America. I am in agreement with MIT professor Sherry Turkle and her stance that technology has a certain place in society and it is our jobs as humans to put it there. We often lose face-to-face communication when constantly online or text messaging. Currently, I am probably one of the very few college students yet to own a “smart phone”. I just have a phone that I can text and call with, and to be completely honest, I feel great about it. I do not have the obligatory feeling of going online to check emails or Facebook and I have no need to look up things on the internet. Instead, when I am done with any type of business on my phone, I put it away to actually SEE my surroundings or to BE with the people around me. Often, I will be sitting with friends and they will be on their phones, completely ignoring the people (friends) and the conversation we are having. As Turkle notes, mobile devices with internet capabilities have taken us from social connection to social collection. Instead of making interpersonal connections, people get together in a public place (ie coffee shop, park, bus stop) just to be online, going to the places and talking to the people that that device allows.

    The magnitude with which technology increases is amazing, however, I do feel it does get a bit excessive at times when it jeopardizes interpersonal relationships and face-to-face sociability.

    References:
    “Medical Breakthrough for Heart Repair” Latest Medical Technology. 2001 http://latestmedicaltechnology.net/heart/medical-breakthrough-for-heart-repair/

    Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York, NY: Basic Books.

  30. mileenz says:

    I think I would have to agree with most everyone else and say that I am somewhere in the middle between techno-optomist and techno-pessimist. Internet technology has made it possible for us to stay in touch with friends and family in different parts of the country or world. I am eternally grateful for the creation of Skype because I can’t imagine being abroad without it. Although I love being able to keep in touch with the people I love, I think that the creation of new technologys such as Ipad’s, Facebook, Twitter and smart phones have taken the idea of keeping us “connected” to a whole new level. I try to think back to the days when cell phones didn’t exist. I wasn’t constantly texting, checking email or checking Facebook. Instead I would be using my time to take the time to actually talk to someone face to face and if I needed to make a call then I would have to use my house phone. Essentially, before all of this easy access technology was created, contacting someone meant putting in more effort which showed that someone really did care. Nowadays, I feel as though a lot of the true meaning of asking someone how there day is, is left out when sent from a simple text. I also noticed that I am in some way shape or form always connected to the outside world. It takes more effort to cut myself off then to stay tuned in. If I am on a family vacation, I still have my cell phone with me which means that I am still able to stay connected (which can be a good and a bad thing) and that means not living in the moment.

    • kfbrand says:

      Although I do believe that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are two extremes on the spectrum, I would definitely identify more with the pessimists. I have never quite warmed up to technology; I like having all of my technologies separate (ipod, watch, and 20 dollar cell phone). As we’ve seen in some of the readings from class, technology has created an irrational and detrimental dependency for a lot of people. That isn’t to say that it hasn’t bettered a lot of aspects of our society, as it has greatly contributed to global communication and the medical field. However, I am a big fan of personal communication, which has begun to decrease in public arenas. This was discussed in one of the readings, which explained how we are now considered “cyborgs” as we are constantly tethered to the Net through our devices. I do not like the idea of that because we are losing our grasp on the present, which is extremely important to experience.
      As previously mentioned, many technologies have contributed positively to society. However, I feel that it is in the extent to which we use it that we must be wary. In a New York Times article by Marjorie Connelly, she explains that many Americans are starting to agree with this pessimistic aspect. They have become so tethered to their devices that it has produced increased stress and a decrease in focus. I understand how this is true seeing as I am writing this with my cell phone right in front of me. With this increased attachment to our devices, we are having a harder time focusing, becoming more stressed, and becoming more dependent.

  31. mswindells says:

    It appears that out of the recent posts I am the only techno-pessimist. That’s not to say that I don’t think technology is good, because by all means it has benefited me, as well as our society, immensely. I guess I just am very cautious about what is to come. I see all the points people are making about techno-optimism, and I completely agree with them. I just always wonder how we might act without them, and most of the time I think that simpler times might have been better.

    Pretty much everyone listed the benefits of social media, telephones, e-mail, ect. as being beneficial to our societal communication. While that is true, I think it is important to look at how our communication style is changing because of these new forms. I’ve often times heard teachers, as well as employers, complain about the quality of our writing. Through texts and other online forums our generation has formed kind of a short-hand, a different language, that has made communication in the digital world easier. It appears that our generation has distanced ourselves from the style that the generation above us was based on. By using our slang they may see us as unprofessional, and in most cases I feel that it hurts us rather then helps us. It’s not only the written language that I believe these communication technologies have hindered. I think that how we socially interact with others is changing as well. We might be able to connect with all sorts of people over the Internet, but when it comes to face-time we struggle. I’m sure opinions for everyone changes, but it is those face-to-face relationships that I value over my online ones. Some people saw this too, when addressing their view point but I just wanted to reiterate it. It’s very hard to be completely on one side, and I think it’s also unrealistic.

    Another area that a couple people touched upon is the technological advancements in the medical field. While there is no denying how beneficial they are, and how much I hope that they continue to advance, I would also like people to take note of what I said in my post earlier. To summarize it real quickly I basically think that too often people take drugs to “fix their flaws”, and I’m worried that soon everyone’s personalities might become alike. No one wants to live in a world where everyone is a mellowed out version of themselves.

    Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, and as I mentioned earlier I honestly don’t think you can be completely on one side for this topic, but i definitely think people should take a close look at the pros and cons of all these advancements.

    • ADuckett says:

      Although I agree with many of the arguments made in the posts on this blog, I consider myself, like you, a techno-pessimist and want to expand on your view of how technology has had a negative effect on interpersonal relationships. The Internet allows you to portray yourself in whatever way you want, you can create an identity for yourself and the people you meet online won’t know who you truly are. This disconnects us from reality, diminishing our true selves and blurring the line between what is real and what is not. Living online is hurting our freedom in developing our own identities. We spend all our time thinking about and searching to see what others are doing never giving ourselves the chance to be in the moment of where you are, whom you are with and what you are doing. Yes, living online allows us to express ourselves, but do we truly represent who we are? I do not think we do. We create a person different from whom we are whether meaning to or not and by doing this, we lose ourselves, our identities and who we truly are.

      Along with this, because we are always connected online, our face-to-face relationships with others have diminished. We may be physically present with people, but we hardly interact with each other when we have the television on, or each have a computer open or have a smart phone at your side. You might be having a conversation with someone, but then your phone vibrates, you pick it up, read the text, reply and continue talking. Are you really fully present in the moment when this happens? No, you’re not. People are constantly disconnected from the physical world and others by being connected online all the time. We are losing our meaningful, interpersonal relationships with others by always having our faces down in our screens. We are forcing ourselves to become isolated to our technologies and are losing our sense of culture, sociality and morality.

  32. Jared Pizzo says:

    After studying technological determinism and the different perspectives that technological utopians and dystopian have, I would say that I am a dystopian. While technology has always had a positive impact on my life I would argue that we are not using/ incorporating it the right way into society. I also feel that it takes the value out of communication. For example, it has become acceptable to use your cell phone at dinner. While some may not see a problem in this, I feel as though it take away from the value of being at dinner. Maybe I am more traditional, but I feel like face to face conversation is more meaningful than texting and that writing a card has more value than sending an email. It is too bad that these forms of digital communication have replaced the more traditional forms and I fear that it will have serious unintended consequences that will negatively affect society. The problem is that in this aspect, technology is pulling society. There is no way to prevent the progress that has already been made and now a days everyone wants to have the next new thing regardless of the changes it is having on society.

    • klchow says:

      I totally agree with you, I consider myself more traditional in the sense that I like in person contact. I do agree that in person interaction is more valuable than written texts and emails, but I would have to say that the internet and technological advances have made our lives easier. Even though we are able to see people that are important to us just a drive away, others aren’t able to do that. The internet is then considered a communicative tool for those who want to communicate with loved ones who are far away. Systems such as Skype allow this interaction to happen. Even though it’s not ideal to just communicate through technology, sometimes these are the only ways people can communicate with each other. In our cases though, I agree that communicating and interacting in person is a more valuable use of our time than interacting through text.
      I also agree that technology pulls society but I also think that society pulls technology as well. It is a two way communicative process where people come up with new innovations, but technology helps advance current technologies.

  33. cesilver says:

    After reading other people’s blogs, I was shocked to find that most people were in the middle when it came to how they viewed technology. After reading the replies I thought about why that might be and I think it was varied because of how much technology played a role in their life. The people that used it more, noted more of the significance of technology. Also, I was interested by the “control” of technology mentioned. Some replies were obvious that others felt more “tethered “ to technology than others. After reading people’s blogs there were some personal posts which I’d like to reference below.

    htayson: I loved your point about things technology has provided that we don’t think about all the time such as : constant heat, air conditioning, radio, cable, electric stoves, dishwashers and running water. These points made me lean more towards a techno optimist, however it also made me think about how much of these resources that technology provides do we need. Think of all the people who survive with so much less. I liked how she mentioned that depending on the technology she was either an optimist or a pessimist. I was also shocked to hear that she did not have a smart phone.

    Mileenz: I totally agree with her about how precious skype is. I whole heatedly feel that skype is what keeps long term relationships possible. Her comment about the “whole new level” we are on now due to technology is good and it made me think more about its implications and realize that so many of us just “use” technology instead of think about the product afterwards.

    Kfbrand: The reference to cyborgs was convincing, however I could disagree that its not the case, and it worries me too. However, this term makes it sound unintentional however I still feel like we have the choice and we are not tethered and as helpless as Turkle writes us cyborgs to be.

    Kim: She brought up something that should be evaluated when it comes to how people view technology, how they tend to view other things too. I do believe that the fact that your an optimist about things in general impacts your view on technology as well. Her mention of Peter Huber was interesting and I feel he was an optimist like her and that one can in fact ignore/deny the new world that technology has created. Those are the ones reluctant to change and those who feel people are still more important.

    mmhoward: I totally agree with their point on if you don’t want to be a slave to technology then don’t. I love how they used the word slave and I , like you, agree with Turkle’s tethered term. In terms of how easy it is to keep a disconnect I think that it has to do with the years a person is connected to it. If one is a digital immigrant, their “tetheredness” so to say is weaker. For natives, it is harder for them to seperate/disconnect with technology because it has been for a longer time part of their lives.

  34. htayson says:

    After reading the posts, it does in fact seem that everyone is in between a techno-optimist and a techno-pessimist. Cesilver, I agree with your concept that people’s views are dependent upon the role of technology in his or her life. I believe that the degree to which people are “tethered” to technology depends upon what technology they have been exposed to. For example, mileenz praises the technology of Skype and I too agree. I live far from my family as well and Skype is really a good way to keep in touch using a different method besides texting and calling. It is as though the person is physically with you, even though they are really hundreds of miles away. Now, for students who live close to their parents and long-term friends, this specific technology would not be useful.

    Certain technologies meet certain people’s needs while they do not meet others. In my case, I do not have a smartphone because I do not absolutely need it. For business people or those who need the ability for multitasking, these phones are essentially their lives. I think that the fact that some technologies are applicable to certain people and not to others is what keeps people in the middle ground concerning this topic.

  35. mkleland says:

    Along with the great majority of people, I don’t fall into the category of either extreme, techno-optimist or techno-pessimist. I think most people would agree that the notion that all problems have technological solutions and technological innovations have no negative consequences is a preposterous one. Every innovation has consequences and the degree to which those consequences are ‘good or bad’ really depends on one’s perspective and priorities. For example, let’s take the example of the auto industry. From an objective perspective, the auto industry has made travel more efficient, that is without question. Its effects however, cannot be looked at so objectively. It has also lead to things like pollution, car accidents, destruction of environments to build roads, general urbanization, and some might argue just a general distancing from natural sensory experiences. On the other hand, it has also lead to job creation, opportunities for travel and commute, and the rise of complimentary industries like tire manufacturing etc. Now if you look at all these effects you might think it’s an easy matter of counting the pros and cons. But it really depends on what perspective one has about how society should be and how we should get there. The obvious example would be the environmental versus the economical perspective. The environmentalist would no doubt see the net effects as negative because of their tendency to view the environment as a priority. The economist sees the economy as a priority, so he would see the net effects as positive because of the ripple effects it has created in the job sphere and innovation scene. The point of this thought experiment is just to point out the importance of considering one’s perspective and priority biases when addressing this topic.
    That being said, I find myself valuing a more natural, physically connected society. I think technology has indeed improved ‘quality’ of life in a conventional sense. But I honestly think that’s the most prominent effect it has had. In my opinion it hasn’t worked any ethical, philosophical, creative, or abstract wonders. In the big picture weighing both the negative and positive effects it has had on society as a whole (from my perspective) I think technology is overall a good thing for human progress in terms of efficiency but a bad thing for the wellbeing of individuals and social interaction.

  36. ADuckett says:

    Much like everyone else, I am able to recognize the advantages and disadvantages of technology within our society. However, although I agree with the many pros and cons of the technological advancements made thus far, ultimately I would consider myself a techno-pessimist. Yes, I fully acknowledge and appreciate the many great advancements made possible by technology, including the more efficient and various ways in which we communicate with others, the introduction of “green technologies” that have the capability of solving many of our climate issues and most importantly the many cures found through technologies for the countless diseases throughout the world. While these technological advancements have improved our world in thousands of ways, personally, I see the negative effects to be more prominent.

    I believe that because of the many technological innovations, our capacity to communicate with others has diminished. Although I have to admit that I use media and technology just as much as the next person, I have realized that our interpersonal relationships have greatly deteriorated over the past few decades forcing us to become isolated and without a sense of culture, sociality and morality. I notice that children today are just as much, if not more, wrapped up in technology as we now are, always connected to the virtual world and losing the meaningful, physical relationship with others. Wherever you go nowadays, it is not uncommon to see the lack of interpersonal relationships between people in public places, which is what Sherry Turkle describes as social collections in her book, “Along Together”.

    Along with telecommunications, some of the greatest medical advancement that have been found so far have been made possible through technology. However, these medical related technologies create mass amounts of toxic waste. And where does all this toxic waste go? It goes into toxic waste dumps, into the earth we live on. A film I watched not too long ago, called “A Strand in the Web”, produced by Madeleine Muir discusses the arguments behind toxic waste dumps. It was stated by a woman in this film that toxic waste leaves behind a poisoned land, water and people.

    These are just a two examples in which I see the negative effects of technology. You may not agree but personally, I think technology is rapidly diminishing our society in every way. We are becoming a world dependent on technology. I hate to make this comparison, but one day we will find ourselves in the same position as the people portrayed in the Disney movie Wall-E completely diminishing our natural resources, destroying our planet, living through the virtual world, with a complete loss of living in the present moment with the environment and people around us.

    Works Cited:
    Muir, Madeleine. (1989). A Strand in the Web. USA: Greenpeace USA.
    Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York, NY:Basic Books.

  37. MReed says:

    I am on the fence on the issue of whether or not technology is a good or bad thing in society. I believe that most people share this position with me because many of us who are responding to this article for class are what are referred to as “digital natives” meaning that technology comes naturally to us. Throughout most of our lives technology has been present and its use encouraged in various aspects of our daily lives, for the most part school, at work and even in the home. This being so, we can only offer a very narrow outlook on how technology has effected our lives because we do not know what it was like to live before it. However, I believe technology for the most part to be both negative and positive. Positive aspects of technology to me seem to be mostly related to the study of medicine as well as the environment. Recent advances in these fields have opened the door to the world of possibilities that we have livs in for centuries and have made what was previously unknown to us common knowledge. Advances in medicine have greatly increased average human life expectancy as well as created a method by which to adequately track medical information on specific patients. Other advances in environmental science have created a much more aware society. Corporations are now forced to monitor and lessen their contributions to environmental pollution. On the other hand the negative aspects of technology are also widely abundant. Creation of weapons of war, nuclear arms and poison gas have revolutionized killing and made a business out of misery. The individual worth of day laborers has also vastly decreased as minimum wage begins to shrink all across the United States and around the world.

    Also when taking a look at the future of technology there are both negative and positive effects that various specialists in the fields of communication and sociology have hypothesized. Generally there is a lot of research being done on how the use of technology effects how we interact with each other as human beings. Many researchers believe that as our dependence on technology increases we will eventually create a society free from personal face to face contact. There are also researchers who believe that technology will create the ultimate society in which human greed is eliminated by an autonomous system that monitors the global market. Al;though these sides differ in opinion and can be dubbed as optimists or pessimists they all believe in one thing. The idea that technology is one of the most influential forces on humanity and that our sue of technology in the future is only bound to increase. In concordance with this research the National Association for the Education of Young Children has stated that use of computers in youth is increasing but does not supplement the use of other more physical educational tools. this in itself shows that although technology is increasing in prevalence humanity is not solely dependent on it. It also bring forth the idea that if one were to only use computer technology other aspects of humanity would be lost. Feel free to share your thoughts on this research.

    Technology and Young Children
    http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PSTECH98.PDF

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