Friday, 30 March 2018

Technology And The Cost Of Magic

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." ~ Arthur C. Clarke 

We love to see magic - the amazement and wonder of seeing things beyond our understanding brings out our inner child. Magic puts us in a transactional relationship we are naturally comfortable with - it plays to a need in most of us to follow - magic impresses us and the magician becomes our leader. 

While technology is based on science most of us have no idea how it works and to all intents and purposes technological objects are like magical artefacts - we know the ritual like procedures, symbols and language to operate them but have no idea how they cause their effect ... technology works automagically and we can command its power.

When rubbing the magic lantern be careful what you wish for, for therein lies the rub. .. magic always comes at a price - it's not free of responsibility, consequence, or cost.

The more complex the technology the more difficult it is to fathom and the more complicated its consequences. Today our technologies are more complex than ever and its consequences are more significant than we might care to ponder. The power conveyed by technology is seductive ... we believe the assertions of the technology wiz kids that they can engineer a better future if only we put our faith and our trust in them, follow the leader and use their stuff.

The tech neoshamen with their visions of tech utopia and fetish objects and tech totems of progress and attraction that seduce, bewitch, addict, dominate and captivate us - its not a rabbit being pulled from the magician's hat but us ... comfortably numb and hypnagogic in the illusion. 


Magicians are people, technology wiz kids are human and the technology they create is loaded with human bias. Technology artefacts of attraction are in fact artefacts of addiction and domination, full of magic tricks that use human bias to push our buttons. Technology is not some sort of neutral self determining good thing but is a product, a business run for loads of money in the service of something - a position, a profit motive, a means to an end.

Magic relies on secrecy - our amazement ends if we see the trick and we wonder how we could have been fooled so easily. Wake up and stay woke .. chose to use open technology rather than let closed technology use you.

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