• Goto NetFuture main page
  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #105     A Publication of The Nature Institute        April 18, 2000
              Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Quotes and Provocations
       Genome Hackers
       What Happens When You Medicalize Childbirth
       Banning Teenagers to Furtive Little Holes
    Automobiles on the Road to Nowhere (Stephen L. Talbott)
       Is the digital economy repeating yesterday's mistakes?
       Education Includes the Transmission of Attitudes (Klaus Rieckhoff)
       The Book's Weakness Is Also Its Strength (Wendell Piez)
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    The feature article in this issue looks at some remarkable parallels
    between the automobile's conquering of the American landscape and the
    current land rush in cyberspace.  The essay draws heavily from James
    Howard Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere.
    The conference, "PlaNetwork: Global Ecology and Information Technology"
    will bring an impressive array of geeks and activists to San Francisco,
    May 12-14.  For the most part, the participants seem to have few
    misgivings about how their embrace of computer technologies will play into
    their environmental concerns, but I was asked specifically to address
    "shadow-side" considerations.  Guess I've typecast myself.  Playing the
    role to the hilt, I've entitled my talk, "Information Technology is the
    Root Cause of Environmental Destruction.  Why Should We Look to It for
    Healing?"  Here's the abstract:
       The threats to our environment are an expression of our longstanding
       alienation from the natural world.  With its aggressive disinterest in
       the qualities of things (which are the things), science has led
       us in a several-hundred-years' abandonment of nature.  A key feature of
       this drive is the reduction of nature to information.  A companion
       feature is replacement of the desire to experience and know by the
       desire to manipulate and control.
       Technology is the effective instrument of this devilish substitution,
       and has aptly been described as the knack of so arranging the world
       that we don't have to experience it.  By embracing technology without
       enough respect for its alienating and destructive potentials,
       environmental activists are helping to worsen the very disease they
       want to heal.  But if we can muster that respect, then
       technology can indeed serve the healing process.
    For information about the conference, see http://www.planetworkers.org/ .
    Goto table of contents<