The technologies we choose

Does technology have a mind of its own?

Here are three views on technological determinism. One is from Kevin Kelly, who recently spoke at Pop!Tech. Ethan Zuckerman says Kelly acknowledged an uneasy relationship with technology, but he, Kelly, is nonetheless "fascinated by the idea that technology has its own agenda and directions:"

Technology, like children, are not neutral - they’re creative forces for good. They can turn good or bad, but civilization depends on having the good outweigh the bad, even by a thin margin. Civilization is the 1% difference between the good and the bad.

The comment reminded me of this post from Douglas Rushkoff, who said that we may be moving into an era that is defined as much by the technologies we refuse as the ones we accept, which I summarized earlier this year as "no thanks, I'm pro-consciousness."

The ethical dimensions of technology choice can be encountered in variety of contexts, from the Mennonite and Amish communities, who balance communications and transportation technologies against their vision of community, to the advance directives and living wills adopted by the terminally ill, who weigh the benefits of medical technologies in life's last days.

Lastly, Wired editor Mark Vamos touches on technology-aided memory in the current (November) issue of the magazine when he says in the letter from the editor that

successful technologies have a way of creating their own justification.... In an age of computer-assisted human memory, it may one day be as unacceptable to claim you've forgotten something as it is, in our time of pervasive cell phones and BlackBerry's, to say you're unreachable.

It's an arresting thought: when everything knowable can be known, what then?