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

Thursday, May 21, 2015


The uncritical enthusiasm of gizmo-fandoms for useless landfill-destined consumer crap peddled as paradigm-shattering.

More Futurological Brickbats here.


jimf said...
We are once again living in a go-go time for tech, but
there are few signs that the most consequential fruits
of the boom have reached the masses. Instead, the boom is
characterized by a rise in so-called on-demand services
aimed at the wealthy and the young. . .

San Francisco’s tech industry “is focused on solving one problem:
What is my mother no longer doing for me?”

No, no, say the start-ups that, today, look as if they’re targeting
the rich. The nature of the tech business is that costs come down.
Through repeated innovation and delivery at scale, the supercomputers
of the 1960s became the PCs of the 1980s, which in turn became the
smartphones of the 2010s. The rich subsidize the rest of us — were
it not for the suckers who spent more than $10,000 on early
versions of the Mac, Apple might not have survived to build
the iPhone, in turn begetting an era of affordable pocket

This is the basic defense of the new wave of on-demand start-ups:
If their rosiest visions of growth come true, they’ll achieve
a scale that will let them reduce prices, and in that way
offer services that could radically alter how even ordinary
people conduct their lives.

It is a plausible vision — but an unlikely one. . .

Dale Carrico said...

"It is a plausible vision -- but an unlikely one"

I'm about to start teaching my basic undergraduate rhetoric of argumentation course, and it seems to me this last assertion is making a validity claim in declaring "plausible" the argument ("vision") of trickle-down techno-emancipation and also a falsehood claim about its premises -- declared "unlikely" here.

Arguments are valid or invalid, not true or false, while argumentative premises are true or false, not valid or invalid. When I teach argumentation to Berkeley undergraduates this is usually something an initially perplexing but eventually clarifying and powerful notion to get at.

What is striking is that translated back into these conventional rhetoric terms, it is actually less clear that the trickle-down techno-emancipation argument really even IS valid, or its key premises even remotely likely rather than errors so well substantiated as such that we find ourselves in outright deception territory.

Of course, this takes us to another initially perplexing eventually clarifying insight for many of my undergraduates: most of what are described as formal and informal fallacies from the vantage of propositional analysis (argument qua logos) simply become compelling claims from other vantages (argument qua pathos, ethos).