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Technology is Natural for the Mind

Some may be surprised to read such a statement. Technology is natural in the sense that it amplifies the natural tendency of the mind to be continuously stimulated by external events. Introspection, meditation, and the silence of the mind are the most unnatural experiences for the ego-mind.

The “natural” evolution of the psyche creates, at best, a healthy and strong ego. Going beyond this stage requires a lot of “unnatural” work, mostly by developing an observing attitude called meditation. The tools of technology are more congenial for our minds than meditation. Through technology, we can even write about meditation in our blogs (as I also do, and yes I am aware of the paradox) and on social networks (which I avoid). By feeding the mind through every means we never risk abandoning our cherished identification with the mind’s contents.

Disengaging from the chatter of our minds is one of the most unnatural activities that humans can do. Information technology feeds our mind with information, a product that the mind loves to crunch on, and also with ideas, concepts, emotions, and beliefs, keeping the ego-mind at the center of the show.

Technology is natural for the ego-mind, the level with which humanity currently identifies. The digital-binary technology reflects perfectly the duality of the mind, where the either-or modality is reflected even in the inner functioning of computers.

The information society, as the peak of an historical process, will probably last for a shorter amount of time than the industrial one. If we follow the esoteric system of the seven bodies, the next step after the mental plane would be the awareness one, in which the mind is observed, known, and explored from the inside.

The semantic web, sometimes called Web 3.0, is the first step toward meta-information, toward a self-awareness of information that simulates, though limited on the mental plane, the observing attitude of inner exploration.

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The Situationists Still Enlighten Us

“All that once was directly lived has become representation. . . . The real consumer has become a consumer of illusions” (Guy Debord, 1967).

The Situationists, an international revolutionary group of the ’50s critical of capitalist culture, spoke of “The Society of the Spectacle” – which alienated people through a mediated and commoditized social envinroment.

Media and products, in the Situationists’ view, dull the audience and control desire. Half a century later,  we have newly created media with greatly expanded scope –which reinforce the Situationists’ principles. In the new digital millennium it seems that desires are not controlled, yet are accepted as long as there is a market product associated with it, channeled through and stimulated by the media.

Situationists perceived that in capitalism, emotions become transmuted into market products – and we have to pay up to redeem our emotions. The market, as they saw it, first takes away our real needs for connection and authenticity, then offers a pale reflection of the real – making us always thirsty for a real which will never come.

The need for connection today is expressed through social networks which appear free and democratic. Yes, many Internet services are free of charge, but if we calculate hardware, software, the Internet connection – plus our time and attention – the cost must be reconsidered.

Moreover, the Situationists observed that people in our society are programmed to live a life that is merely a representation of a real life. Through technology needs have been created in order to sell solutions. And the hi-tech market doesn’t even require much in the way of commodities any more, since it is represented digitally – making Debord’s words about becoming consumers of illusions blatant.

“Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left” (McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964).

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Technology “Does“ Us

Birds build their nests instinctively and many animals “know” how to hunt or find food, but human beings have a very simple set of instincts, such as those for suction and for grabbing. Everything else comes from a process of learning, which is very much an embodied process. As Alliance for Childhood writes in Fool’s Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood:

In kindergarten, therefore, an emphasis on play and social skills – not premature pressure to master reading and arithmetic – seems most likely to prepare children for later academic success. Researchers have documented how much young children learn intuitively through their bodies, and how this lays a critical foundation for later conscious comprehension of the world. The child’s first experience of geometric relationships and physics, for example, is literally a visceral one.

A study published in Nature by the University of California at Santa Cruz’s researchers demonstrated that while animals learn a new task involving motor learning, new connections begin to form between brain cells almost immediately and they become consolidated in a permanent way in the brain. We all know that when we learn something involving the body, as in driving a bicycle, this knowledge stays with us.

On the evolutionary route, we first see the muscles appearing, and then motor functions, as consequences of living in a certain habitat, and later the associated neuro-physiological functions. The motor activity acts on the brain which in turn acts back on the body allowing a more perfected action. The opposability of the thumb and the erect position of human beings came millions of years before the further development of the brain. It was the work that altered the brain, and not vice versa, as Engels perceived what has been later confirmed by fossils (see Genesi dell’uomo-industria for a longer explanation in Italian).

The hand especially, with its subtle movements, shaped our nervous systems more than any other motor activity of the body. The “technologies” of body movements and of manual labor shaped and developed our brains since primitive times. In mutual feedback, our brains shaped our tools in growing complexity until we arrived at contemporary tools which interact almost exclusively with our minds.

In an experiment, researchers used magnetic scanners to read the brain activity of taxi drivers while they navigated their way through a virtual simulation of London’s streets. Through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning, they obtained detailed brain images of 20 taxi drivers as they delivered customers to their destinations. Different brain regions were activated as they were planning their routes, spotting familiar landmarks, or thinking about their customers. The BBC article says that:

Their brains even “grow on the job” as they build up detailed information needed to find their way around London’s labyrinth of streets…earlier studies had shown that taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus – a region of the brain that plays an important role in navigation.

Technologies which interact primarily with our minds have an immediate effect on our neurophysiology. Gary Small writes in Ibrain:

Functional MRI studies of young adults ages eighteen to twenty-six years who average fourteen hours a week playing video games have found that computer games depicting violent scenes activate the amygdala. It is perhaps no accident that many autistic individuals, with their small amygdalas and poor eye contact, are almost compulsively drawn to and mesmerized by television, videos, and computer games (p. 73).

The amygdala is an almond-shaped part of the brain located in the temporal region, considered part of the limbic system, where our emotional reactions take place. It modulates our reactions to threats as well. It could be considered a part of the ancient reptile brain, connected to survival, fear, and aggression.

Other experiments demonstrated that only five days of searching with Google by computer-naive subjects were enough to change their neural circuits, in particular, activating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain has an important role in our short-term memory and in the integration of sensory and mnemonic information.

Whether we use IT which interact primarily with our minds or mechanical technologies mainly through our bodies, they affect our body/mind even in permanent ways.

In astrological symbolism, the planet Uranus is associated with the hand, with technology, and with the nervous system in its capacity to transmit information. The symbolical–analogical knowledge of Uranus seems to connect all pieces together in a whole. The human nervous system developed from the subtle movements allowed by the human hand, which in turn developed tools and technology.

Technology, even in our hi-tech era, is still something which keeps a connection, though faint, to our hand. The only body movements we do when we use hi-tech tools are by our hands and fingers, through the mouse, the keyboard or a touch screen. Research published in 2009 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) demonstrated that hand gestures activate the same brain region of language (the inferior frontal and posterior temporal areas), something which any gesticulating Italian can easily agree with.

Ritual gestures (i.e. of the hands) have always been connected with the activation of inner states of the mind. Hinduism’s mudras are a whole discipline of spiritual gestures formed by the hands and fingers. Ancient disciplines such as the tea ceremony or tai-chi which involve many gestures are visible arts as much as an inner development.

The wider neural connections are between the hand and the brain. Handwriting itself, with its subtle and highly personalized movements, can even give a glimpse of our personality through graphology.

What happens when we use technologies which interact almost exclusively with our minds with no or mininal involvement of the body, apart from the obvious cardio-vascular and obesity risks in sitting for a long time in front of a screen?

We’ve seen that even pure IT in terms of searching with Google’s mold our brains, but is the activation of certain areas of the brain the whole story about the potential of human evolution? Can  it be that our cognitive capacities are as much in our brains and nervous systems as much as in every organ and cell of our bodies, and perhaps even beyond our bodies? Consciousness itself cannot be inferred by neuroimaging, much less locate wisdom or ethics.

As a culture, we didn’t investigate what happens when we substitute all manual with mental labor, which tends to have direct contact between our minds and the instrument. For instance, if London’s taxi drivers develop a part of the brain according to their navigational efforts through London’s streets, what happens when we rely on GPS for our navigation? As a personal anecdote, one of my acquaintances drove his car from the south to the north of Italy. When I asked him which route he took and whether he passed one town I named or another, he answered that he didn’t notice because he just followed GPS indications. Is there a possibility the same brain areas atrophy which become developed in taxi drivers?

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The techno-nihilistic capitalism, interview with Mauro Magatti

Ivo Quartiroli: Prof. Magatti, how would you define techno-nihilistic capitalism, the subject of your book, Libertà immaginaria: Le illusioni del capitalismo tecno-nichilista (Imaginary freedom: The illusions of techno-nihilistic capitalism), and what are the differences with the previous stages of capitalism?

Prof. Mauro Magatti: The idea is to give a complete picture of the last 30 years which began with the coming of so-called neo-liberalism in the Anglo-Saxon countries. My book traces and develops the hypothesis of authoritative colleagues, especially the works of Boltanski in France, Bauman in England and Beck in Germany.

The idea is that those 30 years represent something as unitarian, which is detached from the previous stages (which I call “societal capitalism”), and is based not only on the nation state, but on the social and economic effects which the nation state is not able to load and which are usually referred to as “the welfare society.” The fundamental peculiarity of techno-nihilistic capitalism is a kind of new vision of the world, a new weltenshaung, which makes nihilism, traditionally a philosophy which expresses itself in stages of decadence when the established values had to be destroyed, a useful vision for accelerating both economic and technological growth on a planetary scale.

There’s a capitalism which tries to free itself from the cultural background which the national state established. This capitalism defines itself in an alliance between a technique which is supposed to be intangible, in a very thin cultural setting, or even when it is absent and, on the other side, a full availability, a full manipulability of every cultural meaning, which has to be continuously redefined, transformed, and overcome.

Quartiroli: You affirm that technology gives an imaginary freedom, yet many people, based on this very interview, could well say the opposite. I came to know about your book on the Net, sent you an email and you graciously agreed to be interviewed by me. We use Skype for the interview and then I will publish it in my blogs. This gives us a broad freedom. We don’t have any editorial limitation regarding space or length and we don’t have a director to approve our conversation. Online, we don’t even need to publish it before a certain date. And even better, we can reach hundreds or maybe thousands of readers in every corner of the world directly.

Kevin Kelly, one of the most passionate supporters of technology, in his recent article “Expansion of Free Will” says that, “Technology wants choices. The internet, to a greater degree than any technology before it, offers choices and options.” And more, “the technium continues to expand free will as it unrolls into the future. What technology wants is more freedom, expanded free will.” The idea of freedom and expansion of our possibilities is chased by every technological gadget and by every software which interacts with us. All seems very pleasurable, free and fulfilling, so what’s wrong in this expansion of our options?

Magatti: Kelly’s quote is excellent and gets to the point. Techno-nihilistic capitalism, passing the previous stage of societal capitalism, legitimates itself through this increasing of possibilities, which then is connected to the expansion of choices.

Nobody can deny that, in general terms, to go from a condition where we have less opportunities and choices to one where, instead we have the possibility of expanding our doings, in a way expands our freedom. For instance, when we can move easily and quickly from one part of the planet to the other, we get more chances to “do.”

The point is, what happens in a world where the freedom of choices, where this increase of opportunities is being produced with the speed we experience in our personal and collective lives? We should ask ourselves whether this increase has any effect on the very freedom we want to achieve.

A tangible example to make the point: freedom is somehow like the eye. The eye opens to what is in front, is a sense organ somehow indeterminate since it is connected to what is being seen. The fast-increasing choices in the individual experience give us an excess of things we can see, as fundamental changes in our way of seeing, and we are even subject to the powerful systems which are there to put things in front of our eyes.

This brings the risk of becoming people who are driven from the outside: something is being presented as a choice, which is pleasurable and which increases our power and our fulfillment, but with the risk that freedom implodes on itself and that will deliver us completely to something which is external of ourselves.

To this first problem there’s a second one: all of those opportunities presented to us aren’t as real for most people as they are supposed to be. Therefore, the opportunities in front of us are kept only in an illusory and fantasized state and we withdraw them in. To give a banal example, miraculous or even magical solutions, as would be winning 130 million euro on the Lotto which would allow us to do anything we wanted to, at least in our fantasy.

Because of those two reasons, that world with expanded possibilities which is theoretically associated with an increased freedom, then carries the risk of encaging freedom again. In the book I don’t envision a world where we go back in limiting our opportunities, but to ask ourselves about our freedom and understanding if we are as free as we think we are.

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Saving time through technology

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One of the most-heard mantras of fans of technology is that it “saves time.” Every new software contains procedures for making things simpler and faster, better than before, automating tasks having longer procedures earlier. All very well.

The problem is that for every task made simpler, more tasks are added. We will never save time through technology because the nature of the mind itself is to be kept busy, more so when our bodies are frozen in front of a screen. So we welcome new ways to keep it busy and we overload our minds with more – mostly useless – information and procedures.

Peter D. Hershock in Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999) writes:

According to Marshsall Sahlins, whose Stone Age Economics (1972) is an eye-opening classic, the average work week in Hawaiian and most other so-called “Stone-Age” cultures is about twenty-five hours (p. 45).

We lost the capacity to stay in empty spaces where our minds are not engaged and could be fed by an inner view, instead of giving attention only to external inputs.

Our capacity of conscious attention and presence does not grow according to the amount of information available. It actually becomes scattered and less. We can “be there” with just one thing at a time. We can even be there with none. Then we will be really “there.”

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Uno dei mantra più ascoltati dei fan delle tecnologie è che “fanno risparmiare tempo”. Ogni nuova versione del software ha delle procedure per rendere le operazioni più semplici e più veloci, meglio di prima, automatizzando i compiti che richiedevano procedure più lunghe.

Il problema è che per ogni compito che viene semplificato vengono aggiunti altri compiti. Tramite la tecnologia non risparmieremo mai tempo poiché la natura della mente stessa è quella di mantenersi occupata, e ancor più quando i nostri corpi sono immobili di fronte ad uno schermo. Allora diamo il benvenuto a nuovi modi per tenerla occupata e riempire le menti con ulteriori, e più che altro inutili, informazioni e procedure.

Peter D. Hershock in Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999) scrive:

Secondo Marshsall Sahlins, il cui Stone Age Economics (1972) è un classico rivelatorio, la media della settimana lavorativa nelle cosiddette culture dell’Età della Pietra e nelle Hawaii tradizionali era di circa 25 ore (p. 45).

Abbiamo perso la capacità di stare in spazi vuoti dove le nostre menti non sono coinvolte, dove potrebbero essere alimentate da una visione interiore invece di dare attenzione solamente ad input che provengono dall’esterno.

La nostra capacità di attenzione cosciente e la nostra presenza non cresce al crescere della quantità di informazione disponibile. In realtà diventa frammentata e indebolita. Possiamo “esserci” solo con una cosa per volta. Possiamo anche esserci senza niente. Allora saremo davvero “lì”.

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No identity

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Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield questions what technology is doing to human identity in Perspectives: Reinventing human identity (New Scientist of May 21, 2008.)

According to one estimate, Western children spend some six hours a day at a computer screen. Given the plasticity of the human brain, shouldn’t we ask how living effectively in two dimensions might leave its mark on neuronal connectivity?

Then she muses about whether it is a fact that interacting continuously with a fast-paced multimedia environment would predispose our brain to attention deficit disorder and, that

the visual world of the screen might affect our ability to develop the imagination and form the kind of abstract concepts that have until now come from first hearing stories, then reading on ones own. Will future generations prefer the here-and-now, opting for a strong sensory experience over a more personalized cognitive narrative? … Could we even end up living in a world where there is no personal narrative at all, no meaning, no context, just the experience of the thrill of the moment? Humans have always been hedonistic. Much of what we enjoy, from sex and drugs to fine food and wine, involves an abrogation of a sense of self. We “blow” our minds, “let ourselves go”: we are back in the booming, buzzing confusion of the moment, our identity suspended.

She calls this state the “Nobody” scenario, predisposed by twenty-first–century technology, different from the “Someone” identity of Western societies or the “Anyone” persona of collectivity cultures like communism. She also envisions a fourth “Eureka” scenario where creativity gives fulfillment and builds an individual identity.

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La neuroscienziata Susan Greenfield, su New Scientist del 21 Maggio 2008 si chiede qual è l’impatto della tecnologia sull’identità umana:

In accordo ad una stima, i bambini occidentali passano qualcosa come 6 ore al giorno di fronte ad uno schermo del computer. Data la plasticità del cervello umano, non dovremmo chiederci come il vivere di fatto in due dimensioni possa lasciare il segni sulle connessioni neuronali?

Quindi riflette sul fatto che una interazione continua con un ambiente multimediale veloce potrebbe predisporre il cervello al deficit di attenzione e che

il mondo visuale dello schermo potrebbe influire sulla nostra capacità di sviluppare l’immaginazione e formare il tipo di concetti astratti che fin’ora sono arrivati dall’ascolto delle storie e dalla lettura. Le future generazioni preferiranno il “qui e ora”, scegliendo un’esperienza sensoriale forte al posto di una narrativa cognitiva più personalizzata? […] Potrebbe anche essere che finiamo a vivere in un mondo dove non vi è alcuna narrativa personale, nessun significato, nessun contesto, solo l’esperienza del brivido del momento? Gli esseri umani sono sempre stati edonisti. La maggior parte di ciò di cui gioiamo, dal sesso alle droghe al buon cibo e al vino, comporta un’abrogazione del senso di sé. Ci troviamo nella rimbombante ebbrezza del momento, con la nostra identità sospesa.

Susan Greenfield chiama questo stato lo scenario “Nessuno”, indotto dalla tecnologia del ventunesimo secolo, diverso dall’identità “Qualcuno” delle società occidentali o della persona “Chiunque” delle culture collettivistiche quali il comunismo. Anche, lei concepisce un quarto scenario “Eureka” dove la creatività dà appagamento e crea un’identità individuale.

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Not being able to stop

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A couple of years ago I started to write this short essay on the inner motivations and the addiction to production. At that time the environmental problem was already full-blown, but the crisis of energy sources which will be with us for a long time wasn’t felt yet.

I asked myself what the psychological roots would be and what conditioning was at the base of the addiction to production in the West, exported thereafter around the whole planet.

The origins of the compulsion for production and the resulting devastation of the planet date back to the interpretation of the messages spread by religions, particularly the Judaeo-Christian religions.

Christianity propagates messages regarding original sin and the impossibility of reaching the divine in human form. Those and other messages produce psychic double binds, like short circuits.

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The only way out for human beings was to redeem themselves, re-creating heaven on Earth through “virtuous” acts, ruling over nature for this purpose, as authorized by the Bible itself.

Religious statements made a sense originally as tools for the spiritual path, but those messages have been misunderstood by the ego in other ways.

Since this article is quite long, is available as a free e-book which can be downloaded clicking on the cover.

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Avevo iniziato a scrivere questo breve saggio sulle motivazioni interiori che stanno alla base della dipendenza a produrre due anni fa. Il problema ambientale era già conclamato ma ancora non si avvertiva la crisi delle fonti energetiche che ci accompagnerà per lungo tempo.

Mi sono interrogato sulle radici psichiche e sui condizionamenti alla base della dipendenza a produrre in occidente, poi esportata in tutto il pianeta.

Le origini della dipendenza a produrre e della conseguente devastazione del pianeta risalgono all’interpretazione dei messaggi diffusi dalle religioni, in particolare della tradizione giudaico-cristiana.

Il cristianesimo ha propagato i messaggi concernenti il peccato originale e all’impossibilità di raggiungere il divino in forma umana. Questi e altri messaggi hanno prodotto dei doppi vincoli psichici, dei corti circuiti.

senza potersi fermareL’unica via d’uscita per l’essere umano era rimasta quella di riscattarsi ricreando il paradiso in terra, tramite azioni “virtuose” e dominando la natura a questo scopo, autorizzati dalla Bibbia stessa a utilizzare la natura per i fini umani.

I messaggi della religione avevano un senso originario come strumenti per la ricerca spirituale, ma tali messaggi sono stati interpretati sul piano dell’ego nei modi che questo poteva.

Poiché l’articolo è piuttosto lungo, l’ho impaginato in forma di e-book gratuito che si può scaricare facendo clic sulla copertina.

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The mind as a kind of media

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Marshall McLuhan told us that every medium and every technology has a role in the extension and numbness of our organs. The mind’s extensions created by computer technology on the one hand expand our mental possibilities in terms of research, information, and knowledge processing, but on the other bring us to amputate or to numb some of the capacities of the same mind.

The computer can seem an extension of the mind’s capacities, but in reality it numbs our capacities to observe our minds from the inside, as self-consciousness, of our mental mechanisms, and of our whole body/mind systems.

At this point, my hypothesis is: If the computer is a way of outsourcing the mind’s functions, the mind itself could be considered as a “medium” which determines an extension and an anesthesia, in this case in relation to the original completeness of the soul. This is an application of McLuhan’s theories considering the knowledge that comes from the psychology of the ego.

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Sappiamo da Marshall McLuhan che ogni medium ed ogni tecnologia hanno un ruolo nell’estensione e nell’intorpidimento dei nostri organi. Le estensioni della mente create dalla tecnologia del computer se da una parte ci espandono le possibilità mentali in termini di ricerca ed elaborazione di informazioni e conoscenze, dall’altra parte ci portano ad amputare o intorpidire alcune capacità della stessa.

Le estensioni della mente create dalla tecnologia del computer se da una parte ci espandono le possibilità mentali in termini di ricerca ed elaborazione di informazioni e conoscenze, dall’altra parte ci portano ad amputare o intorpidire alcune capacità della stessa. Il computer, che può sembrare un’estensione delle capacità della mente, in realtà intorpidisce le capacità di osservazione della nostra mente dall’interno, intesa come consapevolezza di noi stessi, dei nostri meccanismi mentali e del nostro sistema globale corpo/mente.

A questo punto la mia ipotesi è che se il computer è un modo di esternalizzare le funzioni della mente, la mente stessa può essere considerata come un “medium” che determina una estensione e una anestesia, in questo caso in relazione alla completezza originaria dell’anima. Un’applicazione delle teorie di McLuhan considerando le conoscenze della psicologia dell’ego.

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The myth of freedom through technology

Dalì Apparition of the Town of Delft[en]

The New York Times article “In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop provoked a certain sensation on the Web.

Advertisements of cars still show them in the deserts or on isolated mountain roads. The reality: lines of heavy traffic, traffic lights, stress, costs, social isolation, poor quality of life. Even after many years during which cars went from being portrayed as symbols of freedom to the sardine cans that are imprisoning us, the image of freedom associated with them refuses to die.

But since a few years a new image of freedom in the collective mental imagery has been promised by advanced technologies, which permit us to be free from fixed timetables and workplaces. Wi-fi, Web on mobile phones, and always-on Internet connections promise to let us work when and where we want to, free from the obligations of time or place, with our laptop on the top of a mountain having an uninterrupted view in front of us.

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L’articolo del New York Times In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop, che racconta la morte di un blogger per stress e la pressione a cui sono sottoposti i blogger, ha provocato un certo scalpore sul web.

Le pubblicità delle automobili le ritraggono tutt’ora mentre vengono guidate in deserti o in strade isolate di montagna. La realtà: code, semafori, stress, costi, isolamento sociale, bassa qualità della vita. Dopo tanti anni in cui le automobili sono passate da simboli di libertà a scatole di sardine che ci imprigionano, l’immagine della libertà associata alle automobili non muore.

Ma da alcuni anni, nell’immaginario collettivo, la nuova immagine di libertà è stata conquistata dalle tecnologie avanzate, che ci promettono di liberarci dall’orario e dal luogo di lavoro fissi. Wi-Fi, web sui cellulari, connessioni alla rete sempre attive ci promettono di poter lavorare quando e dove ci pare, liberi dalle costrizioni del tempo e dello spazio, con il nostro portatile in cima alla montagna avendo di fronte un panorama incontaminato.

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Unlinking ourselves through technology

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Any time there is contact with a new technology, as Marshall McLuhan tells us in Understanding Media, this brings us to “an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body.”

The self-amputation aspect is hardly considered by people who deal with the media and technologies, much less by marketing offices. The potentialities of any new technology in extending our abilities are magnified, but there’s attention on the self-amputation side only when there is obvious damage.

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Ogni volta che vi è il contatto con una nuova tecnologia, Marshall McLuhan, ne Gli strumenti del comunicare, ci insegna che questa ci porta a “un’estensione o un’autoamputazione del nostro corpo, che impone nuovi rapporti o nuovi equilibri tra gli altri organi e le altre estensioni del corpo.”

La parte di autoamputazione viene presa meno in considerazione da parte di chi si occupa di media e tecnologie, e ancora di meno da parte degli uffici marketing. Ogni nuova tecnologia viene esaltata nelle sue potenzialità di estensione delle nostre possibilità ma l’altra faccia della medaglia, l’autoamputazione, viene considerata solo quando vi sono dei danni evidenti.

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Spiritual powers through technology

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As Marshall McLuhan sensed, technology creates extensions for our capabiilities but at the same time amputates or alienats parts of ourselves. The classic example is of cars. On one side cars extend the legs’ capabilities letting us go further and faster, but on the other side the leg muscles are getting atrophied and towns being transformed into what they are now.

In addition to extending our physical bodies, we projected even our inner qualities on technology. So we project our need of strength, intimacy, will, peace and other qualities on technological tools which promise to extend our possibilities.

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Come ha intuito Marshall McLuhan, la tecnologia cerca delle estensioni per le nostre capacità ma allo stesso momento crea delle amputazioni o alienazioni da parti di sé. Un classico esempio è l’automobile, che da una parte estende le capacità delle gambe potendo portarci più lontano e più velocemente ma dall’altra atrofizza i muscoli delle gambe e rende le città quello che sono.

Oltre alle estensioni del corpo fisico, abbiamo proiettato sulla tecnologia anche le qualità interiori. Quindi proiettiamo il nostro bisogno di forza, intimità, socialità, volontà, pace interiore, ecc sugli strumenti tecnologici che ci promettono di estendere le nostre possibilità.

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Heavenly Technology

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With the advent of modern science, the relationship between religion and science became rather tenuous. We are used to seeing religion and science or technology as two very different areas of life.

Even nowadays there is heated debated between scientists and religious leaders on issues as staminal cells, procreation technologies, evolution and intelligent design, among others.

It could be a bit surprising to know that the origins of technology and of modern science have a common history that comes from Christianity.

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Con l’avvento della scienza moderna, il rapporto tra religione e scienza non è stato dei più amorevoli. Siamo soliti a considerare religione e scienza o tecnologia come due aree assai distinte.

A tutt’oggi assistiamo ad accese discussioni tra scienziati e rappresentanti della religione sulle questioni legate alle cellule staminali, alle tecniche di procreazione, all’evoluzione e al disegno intelligente, tra le altre.

Potrebbe stupire sapere che le origini della tecnologia e della scienza moderna hanno una storia comune che ha le sue radici nel Cristianesimo.

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