Criticism of technology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Criticism of technology is an analysis of adverse impacts of industrial and digital technologies. It is argued that, in all advanced industrial societies (not necessarily only capitalist ones), technology becomes a means of domination, control, and exploitation,

Overview

Prominent authors elaborating a critique of technology include Jacques Ellul, Ted Kaczynski, Ivan Illich, Langdon Winner, Joseph Weizenbaum, Theodore Roszak, Günther Anders, Neil Postman, Martin Heidegger, Pentti Linkola, Andrew Feenberg, David Skrbina, Mike Cooley, John Zerzan, Lewis Mumford, Derrick Jensen, and Layla AbdelRahim. Some authors such as Chellis Glendinning and Kirkpatrick Sale consider themselves Neo-Luddites and hold that technological progress has had a negative impact on humanity. Their work focused on seeking meaning out of technological change, specifically wrestling with the question of "how tools and their affordances change and alter the fabric of everyday life." Ellul, for instance, maintained that when people assert that technology is an instrument of freedom or the means to achieve historical destiny or the execution of divine vocation, it results in the glorification and sanctification of Technique so that it becomes that which gives meaning and value to life rather than mere ensemble of materials. This is echoed by rhetorical critics who cite the way technological discourse damages institutions and individuals who make up those institutions due to its idealization and capacity to define social hierarchies.

In its most extreme, criticisms of technology produce analyses of technology as potentially leading to catastrophe. For instance, activist Naomi Klein described how technology is employed by capitalism in its commitment to a "shock doctrine", which promotes a series of crises so that speculative profit can be accumulated. There are theorists who also cite the cases of the global financial crises as well as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters to support their critique. Critiques also focus on specific issues such as how technology - through robotics, automation, and software - is destroying people's jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the incidence of poverty and inequality.

In the 1970s in the US, the critique of technology became the basis of a new political perspective called anarcho-primitivism, which was forwarded by thinkers such as Fredy Perlman, John Zerzan, and David Watson. They proposed differing theories about how it became an industrial society, and not capitalism as such, that was at the root of contemporary social problems. This theory was developed in the journal Fifth Estate in the 1970s and 1980s, and was influenced by the Frankfurt School, the Situationist International, Jacques Ellul and others.

The critique of technology overlaps with the philosophy of technology but whereas the latter tries to establish itself as an academic discipline the critique of technology is basically a political project, not limited to academia. It features prominently in neo-Marxist (Herbert Marcuse and Andrew Feenberg), ecofeminism (Vandana Shiva) and in post development (Ivan Illich)

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Criticism of technology" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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