Growing Beyond Technological Nihilism

benign tools


What on Earth is a Collabathon? 

Good question.  According their website, Collabathan '23 is a multi-week, asynchronous hackathon, intended to catalyze and fund new or existing projects focused on activating cross platform interoperability and collaboration, hosted by the CTA. 

And apparently they'd love for you to get involved.

Fair enough.  But what the heck is a CTA?

The Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) is a growing network of people committed to the idea that technology should serve personal and collective wellbeing and regenerative ecological and cultural conditions.  Game B tech rather than Game A tech.

Fair enough.  Sounds good.  But what does it even mean to say that technology can "serve" something? 

While some folks are naively optimistic about technology, others are naively fearful luddites.  These two seem to balance each other out -- leaving us with a dominant social consensus that tech is neither good nor bad.  It all just depends on how we use our tools! 

A rusty old shovel can be used to dig a vibrant community garden or bludgeon a sweet old lady to death. 

Any human tool can used in various ways but that is not quite the full story.  The effects of our tools (and the production and the economic and political incentivization of certain tools) have long term and accumulative effects on human society. 

As the 20th century Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan observed, the devices we use change our habits which change our brains which change our collective social expectations and capacities.  The medium is the message.

If you keep making viral warfare labs & industrial drift-net fishing boats, then obviously future becomes more likely to contain deadly pandemics and the catastrophic collapse of the ocean biosphere. 

On the other hand, if you keep making water filters you get better at creating worlds in which more humans have distributed access to clean water. 

So technology is not neutral.

The use and production of each tool has outcomes that move us personally and collectively toward different kinds of futures.  Of course that can be difficult to predict but at some point we have to come to terms with the fact that the effects of technologies are not limited merely to the choices that individuals make about how to use them.  There are emergent effects.

If this concerns you, then perhaps it is time to start learning more about it and connecting with people who are trying to set up the collaborative conditions to skew our technologies toward more benign, thriving, secure and wise futures.  Especially now that some of our digital tools are superfast and quasi-sentient...

That doesn't necessarily mean you should join the Collabathon.  But you probably should do something.  


Check out this article from the Consilience Project to explore more deeply the non-neutrality of tools. 

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emerge is convening a field of metamodern praxis