Deep Thoughts

Some really great reflections here! I think we are finally getting to the heart of it, if thats even possible.

Zack asks whether there is any absolute measure of “value”, of “goodness”. Have we become less human, or has the experience of being human simply changed? What does ¬†it even mean for something to be human – and isn’t the definition of that constantly in flux, especially given our ability to use tools and to change our environment to suit us? Isn’t that the very basis of civilization?

Jordan asks why all of the focus on the poor? Given that it is the wealthy that are the ones that are mainly using (and abusing) technology, aren’t they the ones that really need this wisdom?

Andrew asks whether it is possible to decouple economic growth from ecological devastation. Is increased efficiency the answer? Or do we need to change what we measure when we consider growth in the first place?

Nick connects Schumacher’s design values to the augmentation vs. automation discourse of Engelbart, and asks which of these modern HCI and computing technologies have achieved. ¬†Andrew and Mike echo some similar thoughts regarding the distinction between tools and machines. Mike also wonders whether his views can be decoupled from religious and spiritual thought, or whether even an atheist could agree.

Ajay considers the tension between technocratic, utilitarian goals versus scale and local empowerment. Is it possible to achieve both at the same time? And if not, which should we prioritize. I would add to this discussion a reflection on why the Appropriate Technology movement, with all of its philosophical appeal, has not really taken off in the way Schumacher would have hoped. Is this a failure of economics, or of human values, or both?

Excited for tomorrow’s discussion!