Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Later Today in My Graduate Seminar

Week Eight | October 15 -- Digital Utopians, Libertopians and Techbros

Designs On Us

Katherine Hayles, Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety
Jaron Lanier, One Half of a Manifesto
Jaron Lanier, First Church of Robotics
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, California Ideology
Astra Taylor, Six Questions on the People's Platform 
David Golumbia, Cyberlibertarians' Digital Deletion of the Left
Jedediah Purdy, God of the Digirati
Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity
Nathan Pensky, Ray Kurzweil Is Wrong: The Singularity Is Not Near
Marc Steigler, The Gentle Seduction
Dave Schilling and Jules Sulzdaltsev, Reasons Why San Francisco Is the Worst Place Ever


jimf said...
The God of the Digerati
Jedediah Purdy
December 19, 2001

. . .

Temperament is a theme too little appreciated in reflecting about
culture and politics. Although no temperament neatly supports any particular
political order, there are echoes, affinities, and latent hostilities between
habits of mind and political practices.

The Wired temperament is contemptuous of all limits -- —of law, community,
morality, place, even embodiment. The magazine's ideal is the unbounded
individual who, when something looks good to him, will do it, buy it, invent it,
or become it without delay. This temperament seeks comradeship only among its
perceived equals in self-invention and world making; rather than scorn the less
exalted, it is likely to forget their existence altogether. Boundless
individualism, in which law, community, and every activity are radically
voluntary, is an adolescent doctrine, a fantasy shopping trip without end.

In contrast, liberal democracy at its best starts from a recognition of
certain limitations that we all have in common. None of us is perfectly wise,
good, or fit to rule over others. All of us need help sometimes, from neighbors
and from institutions. We are bound by moral obligation to our fellow citizens.
We share stewardship of an irreplaceable natural world. This eminently adult
temperament is alien to the digerati.

The choice of which temperament we will cultivate is timely, for it lies near
the heart of our decisions about how to regard the ascendant, global,
information-based economy. Will we see in it the latest set of temptations to
our familiar maladies of greed, mutual indifference, and self-absorption, and
work to address those with the best resources of liberalism, privately and
through our political institutions? Or will we pretend with Wired that
those hazards and their accompanying obligations are finally behind us, that the
millennium has come in a microchip?

jimf said...

> Temperament is a theme too little appreciated in reflecting about
> culture and politics.

Plus ça change. . .
William James, _Pragmatism_ (1907)
Lecture 4, "The One and the Many"

. . .

The history of philosophy is to a great extent
that of a certain clash of human temperaments.
Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some
of my colleagues, I shall have to take account
of this clash and explain a good many of the
divergencies of philosophers by it. Of whatever
temperament a professional philosopher is, he
tries, when philosophizing, to sink the fact
of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally
recognized reason, so he urges impersonal
reasons only for his conclusions. Yet his temperament
really gives him a stronger bias than any of his
more strictly objective premises. It loads the
evidence for him one way or the other, making for
a more sentimental or a more hard-hearted view
of the universe, just as this fact or that
principle would. He trusts his temperament. Wanting
a universe that suits it, he believes in any
representation of the universe that does suit it.
He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key
with the world's character, and in his heart
considers them incompetent and 'not in it,' in
the philosophic business, even though they may
far excel him in dialectical ability. . .

jimf said...

And the beat goes on. . .
The Origin of Ideology
Are left and right a feature (or bug) of evolution?

By Chris Mooney
March/ April/ May 2014

. . .

[I]t is hard to deny that science is revealing a very inconvenient truth
about left and right: long before they become members of different parties,
liberals and conservatives appear to start out as different people. . .
Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently.
They think differently.
by Chris Mooney April 12, 2012

. . .

When you combine key psychological traits with divergent streams of
information from the left and the right, you get a world where there
is no truth that we all agree upon. We wield different facts, and
hold them close, because we truly experience things differently. . .

And throw in:
All about libertarians: Group’s mystique increases as profile is raised
vy Emily Esfahani Smith
October 16, 2012

. . .

The libertarian style of thinking can even verge, in extreme cases, on autism.

The University of Cambridge-based psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading
autism researcher, famously has shown that people with autism exhibit two
critical features: They test exceptionally low on empathizing scales and
exceptionally high on systemizing ones. Empathizing governs social
relationships — Are you able to relate to other people? — while systemizing
governs understanding and analysis of the outside world. . .

Libertarians score very low on the empathizing scale and very high on the
systemizing scale. In other words, they are highly rational moral thinkers,
less emotional than both conservatives and liberals. Two of the leading moral
thinkers of Western history — utilitarian Jeremy Bentham and deontologist
Immanuel Kant — were also incredibly gifted systemizers but deficient empathizers.
Today, Bentham and arguably Kant would might be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. . .

jimf said...

Or worse:
Narcissistic Personality and Politics: Smiling while Insulting
Submitted by Dr. Brian Carr
June 9, 2013

It used to be that crazed and delusional people had to work to
gain an audience in our society. When I attended St. Mary’s University
in San Antonio in the early 1980’s I recall going down to Alamo
square and listening to the various citizens who shouted in the
free speech area outside the historical shrine. Tourists,
business men and women, and the general public passed by as
they would yell and sermonize about the evils of our society.

With the advent of the Internet these same individuals are now
able to expand to a wider audience. Gathering together these
minority groups may only consist of a few people but, with
organization, their message can easily spread and influence
larger groups.

The problem is that their message remains out of step with the
larger collective. The ugliness of politics has worsened under the
passive-aggressive and ego-driven personalities of these extremists.
Individuals who functional poorly in our social environment
can create disruption as they exhibit the fundamental flaws
of their personality. . .
Are Politicians Psychopaths?
by David Freeman

. . .

[W]hen I asked Dr. [Martha] Stout if there's any truth to the contention
that politicians are more likely to be psychopaths, she said in an email
that no solid statistics were available to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Yet despite the lack of proof, she gave a surprisingly definitive answer
to my question:

"Yes, politicians are more likely than people in the general population
to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of
sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this...
That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was
and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow -- but it does explain
a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one."

At one time, she continued, the terms psychopath and sociopath conjured
up image of mass murderers and serial killers. "As it turns out, the majority
of sociopaths/psychopaths never kill anyone with their own hands, nor
do they end up in prison," she said. "A smart sociopath can avoid prison
and find other, less conspicuous ways to satisfy his or her lust for
dominating and controlling others, and what better way than through
politics and big business?" . . .

YMMV. ;->