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What are some issues with 'utopia through technology' visions of society?

+3 votes
A friend was talking about a world where technological developments ie., automation and high speed magnetic transportation put us all out of work, but production is needs-based so we're all taken care of, abolishing work and letting inspired laziness take hold. New energy technologies make sustainability easy. Etc. (this concept exemplified by things like 'The Venus Project')

I question the idea that this would fundamentally change our social relations but I have trouble articulating my opposition to this idea. The idea that abolishing wage labor and unsustainability and a 'resource-based economy' might solve all of our woes is tempting but I'm sure it falls short. What are your thoughts about this?
asked Dec 23, 2013 by formyinformation (2,500 points)
i don't think that the world your friend is describing would be sustainable, so that's one direction to come at this from.
technology is not just stuff, it's a way of looking at the world. the idea that it's ok to mine as long as machines do it reminds me of things like lab-grown meat, or drones (ie, we become more alienated from our lives when machines do things, not less, even when the things the machines are doing are things we don't want to do, like kill animals or bomb people/places).
so that's on the philosophical level.
 
on a material level, seems likely that someone will always have to take care of the machines, both in hardware and software. computerization/technology (certainly the way it's going now) is actually a force for centralization (the factory, the internet), even while it seems to be decentralizing things (sales places, computers everywhere).
centralization is my enemy; few people controlling lots of things/other people seems counter-indicated.
Seems like a good answer dot. Even though a comment, I think it works.
Why do you "think it is unsustainable", that appears to be an unjustified point. Technology is not the enemy, it is and always has been its application by humans, technologies can significantly improve quality of life for all, you can see the evidence all around us, technological progress aligns with human progress along with our understanding of the universe, it is other factors that hold it back and manipulate its use for less noble endeavors (capitalist/market forces)

Things change, technologies improve, we cannot forever be tied to our past, we can either embrace the change and find ways to ensure they are used in a positive and responsible manner or we can stand in the way of it like some religious doctrine fearing progress and suffer the consequences.

Capitalist/Market forces are the main driver ("the way things are going now"), a different paradigm would result in different drivers, it is extremely presumptuous to be so averse to technological progress and a more technological future based on other far more dominant factors.
"technologies can significantly improve quality of life for all, you can see the evidence all around us"

just as well can i see the incredibly negative effects of technology all around. the quality of food, water, air and soil; disease and illness; alienation and diminishing of real human interactions and relationships; it is somewhat depressing to even go on. technology may not be inherently good or evil (nothing is), but if you are going to point out the "good" that it has done, you need to look at the "bad" it has done as well. everyone will have their own opinion about whether the net-net is positive or negative (or even), but even then you have to remember: i had NO CHOICE in creating this technological society that absolutely impacts my life and health in almost infinite ways.

"Things change, technologies improve, we cannot forever be tied to our past, we can either embrace the change and find ways to ensure they are used in a positive and responsible manner or we can stand in the way of it like some religious doctrine fearing progress and suffer the consequences."

false dichotomy alert!!!!!  do you seriously think it is that black and white?

2 Answers

–1 vote
The problem is that as of now it's an utopia, i.e. a hypothetical state of the future. We cannot know what it will be like, whether we'll achieve it or what we'll actually achieve. We can only choose to either move forwards by working towards it or not contribute towards it.

Not surprisingly, this is how humans behave, have always behaved and how the society as a whole works. We are motivated by some particular things or visions and choose to work towards some of them, and ignore others. After all, we cannot do everything, so we need to choose from whatever options we have, or whatever we need to do. But we cannot know for very sure, what our work and living actually contributes to, especially in the big picture. The big picture is too complex and we can only try to understand it and how we contribute to it, but we cannot know for sure what we'll, the humanity or the society will end up with.

The many technological utopias have some parts that are very feasible based on current knowledge and technological infrastructure, but for example the abolition of work is, I think, more of a dream and bears little realism (you can study for example, how limited automation actually is, plus, it doesn't necessarily make our lives more enjoyable). In any case it would take a long time to develop and build all of that technology. Plus, it won't necessary, or most likely it will not solve our current problems (e.g. social, environmental), because those we could solve without the technology utopia as well. Social and environmental problems of today are mainly political, interpersonal and about caring, not necessarily about technology.

This is a complex and layered topic/issue really. But generally I think it's advisable to not believe in what you cannot see (i.e. believe in utopia or something which does not yet exist), because that's sort of like following a religion, but rather believe in current facts and the current state of things that can be verified and perceived to some extent. And work towards improvements based on current knowledge, not based on some utopia. In general, work towards something.
answered Dec 28, 2013 by Reactor (120 points)
edited Dec 28, 2013 by Reactor
–5 votes
Here is an alternative view.

It is important to be able to articulate to others your opposition otherwise you will appear either dishonest or unwilling to have any kind of constructive debate on the subject.

I think it is important first and foremost to look at indisputable facts.

Technology is always evolving whether we like it or not.

Technology and society as it is are largely at odds.

We cannot stop technological progress but we can as history dictates, change society.

Historically education has always been the cure to fear, education makes the unknown known, and the known no longer has to be feared.

So how do you educate a population in order that it can embrace a technological future as opposed to fear it? With difficulty given extent of corruptive influences.

Humanity needs to mature in order to adapt in order that technology is used appropriately and not twisted towards any human primal propensity to dominate.

A humanity dominated by primal instincts is always going to find ways to manipulate and corrupt technology towards corrupt ends.

As human corruption stems from power structures, and power structures are hierachical you must remove such power structures, therefore you require moves towards TRUE anarchy, and technology can enable this.

In order for there to be an anarchy it is required to challenge the systems that create hierarchy and power structures, therefore challenging the dominant capitalist belief systems that reinforce these hierarchies and corrupt power systems.

The urge to dominate will always be a part of humanity, but it is truly unsustainable and ultimately self destructive much because or its propensity to corrupt at all levels.

Humanity is the dominant force on the planet, we have to do what it takes to ensure our survival and manage this closed system in a way that does not result in destroying ourselves and our environment.

This is why our value systems must change if we are to survive, we have to allow our higher brain functions to dominate leaving our primal corruptive urges to dominate to take a back seat instead of being the driving force as they currently are.
answered Jan 8, 2014 by freemarketoxymoron (180 points)
Cannot come up with a decent argument so resorts to passive aggressive negging, as if I expected any different.
Why do you want your point of view to be accepted by the users of this site? I casually use it from my mobile phone in between things, so can't engage in a lengthy debate. However, you could just keep reading old questions and answers or check out theanarchistlibrary.org for a free library of abarchist and related texts. Informed questions might get up voted more.
Relying on enlightenment, ie freedom from 'primal corruptive urges' (and I sense a heap of assumptions behind that statement), for a utopian future seems more delusional than relying on technology...
People are informed in different ways, simply "negging" an answer without explanation serves no purpose whatsoever, what you consider "uninformed" could just be a different perspective, that is surely the main goal of a site like this to discuss different perspectives not just "neg" answers that don't match your particular brand of truth without decent explanation or the opportunity to compare ideas, it just makes this site look like a bunch of self righteous ****s who cannot accept anything outside their own extremely limited frame of reference.

As for wanting my point of view to be "accepted", simply relating to users who do not behave like immature presumptuous self righteous *** holes would suffice (not referring to you specifically but the answer/comments, and passive aggressive negging I have witnessed on this site in the couple of days I have been registered here)
@FMO

Every page on this site would be about a mile long and we'd all have a lot less time on our hands if everybody gave an explanation every time they down-voted someone. Look at reddit. What % of the downvotes there are explained?

Anyway, the reasons you are getting downvoted are pretty obvious if you've been paying attention. By now it's hard not to believe you're butthurt / looking to pick a fight.

Finally, the hostility you are getting from users on this site began mainly because you were evangelizing. That you are evangelizing for the Zeitgeist Movement is not really the point. Evangelizing for anything doesn't go over well here.
I was evangelizing nothing, merely putting forward a perspective, I actually asked for criticism of TZM and all I received was butt hurt vitriolic ill informed and clearly prejudiced answers and comments in return, so yes I know exactly who is downvoting me.

Anyway there appears to be a mob mentality here and a lot of unwarranted hostility towards me, such an environment is not one that is going to be worthwhile me discussing any newer ideas in so I will leave you and your pals to pat each other on the back for your lack of insight, answers, and foresight.
I think the real reason for the instant hostility is my username, as it points out a massive logical flaw in an ideology held by many capitalist shills that claim to be "anarchist" (who support the so called "free market" when in actual fact it is mythical, an oxymoron by definition.)

The hypocrisy that appears to be rife here is that many who claim to be against AnCaps appear to support their misguided ideas.

Anyway good riddance, I thought I might get some intelligent insights and conversations here, sadly I was mistaken.
I wouldn't take it too personal. The people here are informed on anarchist and related theories. In addition to this there seems to be afew pro-caps and a couple others. You seem to really want a debate and are using provocative expressions to perhaps instigate an engagement. I did try to read your tzm thing but it didb't load well into my phone. I down voted because I don't agree with most of what you said, not because I'm not interested in your perspective. Fix your website or ask your allies or whatever to do it. Long texts are too much for some phones.
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