Blockchain and The Global Brain – Denver Talk

At the end of our Utah / Colorado field work in late March (playlist here), Jason arranged for us to give a talk in Denver. It was lovely to participate in a conversation with a room full of people face-to-face. We covered a lot of ground in a heartfelt way, and I think it turned out very well. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you Jason.

One thought on “Blockchain and The Global Brain – Denver Talk

  1. Freelance_Philosopher says:

    Regarding the “Just-a-Tool” concept discussed between Jason and a questioner near the end, this is a concpet that I find to be a predominant mental hangup for those that want to “keep their tech and eat it too” within the would-be dissident space. Jason get it right when he says, “Tools are not value-neutral,” but he doesn’t get a chance to develop that beyond the ecological impact intrinsic in the production of a technological device. However, the inherent value-system represented by technology goes far beyond the extractive processes of manufacture. Technology is its very own value system unto itself, and necessarily subordinates human values to its own purposes.

    In his “The Metaphysics of Technology,” David Skrbina goes to great lengths to debunk the “Just-a-Tool” meme that is always advanced by tech-optimists.

    Skrbina terms it “the instrumentalist viewpoint” and shows that it was anticipated and addressed by early critics of technology, all of whom extrapolated the teleological implications of the very phenomenon of technology. “Instrumentalism” was first directly debunked by Martin Heidegger, at the latest. Heidegger appreciated that technology is not merely a potential danger, but “it is the supreme danger.” (“The Question Concerning Technology”; 1954.) Heidegger had already realized that technology is “danger as such“. Ivan Illich also addressed the “Just-a-Tool” fallacy, observing that the destructiveness of large-scale technology is inherent in the technology itself–not just to the environment but to the human spirit, which is rendered dependent, mechanistic, and vulnerable to exploitation. (“Tools for Conviviality”; 1973.) Henryk Skolimowski likewise said, “The detrimental consequences of technolgy are not incidental but endemic; they lie in the very nature of the phenomenon, as it is functioning within a certain worldview.” (“Technological alienation”; 1978.) Indeed, even as early as the 1920s, Friedrich Dessauer saw that the process of technological invention can be likened to “children who play with the monstrous control panel of fate.” (“Philosophie der Technik”; 1927.)

    People who think technology such as smartphones and blockchain are “Just-a-Tool” equally capable of good or evil are like furry woodland creatures who come across a baited box with a spring-loaded door on the forest floor and announce, “Why how nice! This magic box is Just a Tool for my availment because after all, it’s got a tasty morsel of delicious food inside!”

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