Post from May 8, 2015 (↻ June 8, 2021), filed under Philosophy.
has served well enough in its own fashion, enabling you to travel to the moon, for example, and to advance in a technology that for a time you set your hearts upon. In the framework of objective science as it now exists, however, even the technology will come up against a stone wall. Even as a means, objective science is only helpful for a while, because it will constantly run up against deeper inner realities that are necessarily shunted aside and ignored simply because of its method and attitude. No objective science or splendid technology alone will keep even one man or woman alive, for example, if that individual has decided to leave the flesh, or finds no joy in daily life.
A loving technology add to the qualitative and spiritual deepening of experience.
—Jane Roberts: The “Unknown” Reality.
I love the idea of caring, of loving technology. I believe we need technology that is loving. I think we have ample opportunities to envision and build technology that is loving.
Here I’ll be brief and merely bring up the concept. It’s not new (and I wouldn’t be surprised, rather thrilled, if Kevin Kelly covered the idea in his writings about the Technium, and also Ray Kurzweil in his work about the Singularity, for I’m still only in the middle of reading these seminal pieces), however it doesn’t appear to be overly common.
Spontaneously, then, I see the following in technology to be loving:
- always at service
- friendly and kind
- attentive and thoughtful
- forgiving, letting things slide
- quiet, not phoning home unless for functionality and security purposes
- loyal, protecting the interests of the user or owner (not the producer or government)
- ready to sacrifice itself for life (humans, but also animals)
We notice how loving technology would not—doesn’t have to—match the equivalent of a loving human. On the one hand, we find some things like fault tolerance that we already strive for in user-centered design. On the other hand, we may want to tackle issues that are hard even for humans to master, like ethics. But the point is, for now given all the brevity, we need and we want technology that is loving. That’s technology that would be best for us. Maybe we can remember.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
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Perhaps my most interesting book: 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer (2013). During my time in the States I started trying everything. Everything. Then I noticed that wasn’t only fun, it was also useful. Available at Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.