Is technology actually making things better? A dialogue
TOMORROW: Live interview with Shrikant Rangnekar of 52 Living Ideas
Tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll be doing a live interview for the 52 Living Ideas discussion group with Shrikant Rangnekar. Some questions Shrikant has lined up:
What is progress? What is the nature of progress?
What is progress in biological evolution? What is similarity and differences between biological progress and human progress?
What is economic progress?
What is the nature of intellectual or cultural progress?
What in a social system makes progress possible or probable?
What mindset do people need in order to spearhead progress?
What factors operate against progress?
What is the historic trajectory of human progress over the entire span of history?
Is progress risky? Does it increase or decrease our safety?
Just like there is a narrow concept of selfishness which is win-lose and a larger concept of enlightened selfishness which is win-win, are there analogous narrow & wide concepts of progress?
Is technology making things better? A dialogue with Dr. John K. Davis
I was invited by Pairagraph to discuss “Is Technology Actually Making Things Better?” with Dr. John K. Davis. My opening:
Dr. Davis lists some real and important technological risks. However, to answer the question, “is technology making things better?” we need to assess the benefits of technology as well—including the risks that technology has reduced.
On balance, technology has clearly made us better off. The medieval peasant, burning the last of his coal to keep from freezing, who has just lost his crops to blight, whose home has been ravaged by war, and whose infant has died of cholera, would laugh at modern concerns and would gladly change places with any of us.
I did appreciate and agree with a key point of Dr. Davis’s, which is that “we’re becoming more powerful but not more wise”. As a philosopher, I hope he’ll have some thoughts in his response on how we can get wiser, faster!
Video: Adam Wiggins on the history of industrial research labs
The Torch of Progress, Episode 13
Adam Wiggins, co-founder of Heroku, gave a talk for “The Torch of Progress” (the speaker series of Progress Studies For Young Scholars) on the history of industrial research labs like Edison’s lab, Bell Labs, and Xerox PARC, and how it inspired him to start his own research lab, Ink & Switch.
Video: Highlighter town hall with David King
Highlighter is an social network that lets you share and discuss snippets of what you’re reading. You can follow books as well as people.
Founder David King hosted a “town hall” discussion with me on the relationship between science and invention, “basic” vs. “applied” research, and progress in general.
See all my interviews here.