Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Charles Ess's criticisms of the Global Brain idea

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Thu Jun 28 2001 - 15:14:46 PDT

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    Jack Park wrote:
    > Let's get on with building tools.
    > Cheers
    Actually, to consider Ess's outstandingly articulated
    observations for a moment, should we really get on
    with building tools?

    I was particulary struck by the 3rd world resistance
    to technology and tools. Earlier today I observed that
    "The quest for utopia doth make Don Quixote's of us all."

    I think there is some truth to that. And, to be frank,
    I'm not sure I really like the collective western vision
    of "utopia".

    Here in the west, we tend to assume that more utopian
    conditions will involve more technology. I think that
    may well be true, up to a point. But identifying that
    "point" is tricky business.

    I would say that my main reservation about the use of
    technology in the west is that, while it is almost
    always sold as a "labor enhancing device", invariably
    it is anything but. While the device in question almost
    always does save labor, our social structure is such
    that we are compelled to use the time saved to do more.

    As a result, overall productivity grows, but the amount
    of actual labor scarecely diminishes. Meanwhile, the
    existence of a competitive economy (lots of folks making
    socks), rather than a cooperative one (you make socks,
    I'll make shoes) means that we never really have time to
    relax. If we want our company/organization to survive,
    we put in 60, 70, 80 hour weeks. Where is the labor

    Given what we can do now, vs. what we could do 100 years
    ago, we could be working 5 or 6 hours a week, couldn't
    we. We'd have less (and I'm so much of a materialist
    that I'd be dissatisfied with less, I admit it) -- but
    if we had the ability to be satisfied with less, we'd
    have much less impact on the environment, and a lot less
    stress in our lives.

    It occurs to me, in fact, that the "utopia factor" can
    be measured as the inverse of the amount of (involuntary)
    stress in our lives. If we're stressed -- due to hunger,
    cold, or overwork) then we're not living in utopia. But
    if we're doing enough to feel productive and appreciated,
    and have no worries, then we *are* in utopia, aren't we?

    Yours with a slightly different world view...
    (And to think I used to hack until dawn out of college.
     gad. Times have changed. Must be getting old. :_)

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