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<nettime> re: the double-edged sword thread
Eric Miller on Thu, 11 Oct 2001 08:16:26 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> re: the double-edged sword thread


hi all,

thought I'd throw in my thinking on this...maybe I'm oversimplifying, but maybe
there's a level of tech agnosticism in the US that doesn't exist elsewhere.
That Americans tend to see emerging technologies as the equivalent of a new
element added to the periodic table.  That a given technology has defining
characteristics, has a given set of potential uses, and requires
experimentation to understand.  There's also a tacit understanding that some
technologies may have more nefarious uses, just as plutonium tends to elicit
negative associations more often than, say, magnesium.  (okay, looks like I'm
guilty of over-analogizing...)

So we Americans just _do_ stuff.  we create new technologies at an alarming
pace, and expect that the good-vs-bad value judgements will sort themselves out
eventually.

This implicit American belief in "neutral until proven otherwise" brought the
world technologies that have defined progress in the 20th century...but also
resulted in a nation that still refuses to accept that it consumes 25% of the
world's resources in an absurdly unsustainable manner (bordering on
self-delusion) because some think that we can't prove global warming.  but
that's another discussion.

So maybe there's a symbiotic relationship here?  Damn the consequences, the
Americans will build stuff and say, "look what we've done!"  while the more
theoretical folks on the eastern side of the Atlantic will figure out what it
means to society.  ...including whether history decides that a given technology
is intrinsically good or bad.

Eric


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