Sam Pedersen, Manifesto

1. Technology ought to be conceived as the catalyst for social change.
Without new technology, our society progresses at a snail’s pace. In this day and age, technology is improving rapidly, and with it, our society is quickly changing. The reason we create technology is to make life easier for us in some way, whether it’s a faster computer or a better farming tool. Once we have that ability to dedicate our time elsewhere, we pursue other forms of work or entertainment. Without an increase in technology, society would still change over time, but it would do so in a much slower manner. With technology, however, we are able to jumpstart change. I adopted this principle because, after looking at various examples throughout history, I’ve noticed a pattern of a technological advance followed by a dramatic social change. Once we invented the printing press, we were able to cause drastic changes simply because we could get information out faster and easier. The invention of faster transportations—like railroads—enabled us to expand our markets. In more recent days, the invention of the Smartphone has long since allowed us to communicate quickly and efficiently over long distances, but also discourages face-to-face interaction.

There shouldn’t be many implications with society adapting it, since it’s merely a belief or state of mind. Accepting this principle is the same as acknowledging that we aren’t dependent on ourselves for social change; there are other factors involved. However, this idea should still be taken seriously because it is the basis of our class; everything we talk about includes this general idea that technology and society are reliant upon one another for change.

Source: Technology Matters

2. We should use technology to eliminate what alienates us as individuals.
A big problem in today’s society is the alienation of individuals who are different by no fault of their own—a learning disability or a missing limb, for example, could cause this isolation. Let’s be honest; none of us can help looking at a man with only one leg; it’s unusual, so we stare. Society places so much pressure on the individual to be just like everyone else, but gives no solution to people who are not. Technology, on the other hand, does. We have created medicine for people with ADHD so that they can focus better and perform well in school. We have created artificial limbs for people who have lost theirs by fighting in the war. Like it or not, we’ve even developed state of the art procedures for plastic surgery so individuals can feel more beautiful.

Technology is available to help us with our personal ailments, so why wouldn’t we use it to do so? If society adapted this principle, we’d be a lot better off; everybody would be on an even playing field. “Survival of the fittest” wouldn’t come into play anymore. We would all be on even ground. Instead of alienating people, we would be able to focus on the bigger issues our world is facing. There shouldn’t be any negative implications—we’re simply using technology to eliminate the divide between individuals. I’m assuming there would be some people who wouldn’t like it, and would attempt to get ahead of society, but there are always people out there like that. It’s already something that’s prevalent in today’s society; we already hear about people using steroids all the time.

Source: The Techno-Human Condition (Chapter 7)

3. We should accept that the internet is now an extension of us.
A lot of people have problems accepting that the internet is a part of us. Most of these people don’t really understand the concept of the internet; to them, it’s this magical thing that they have no comprehension of. It’s not because it’s beyond their realm of understanding. It’s simply because when people discuss the internet, they don’t talk about it as a physical thing—a series of connected wires underground—they believe it’s something untouchable high up in the sky. But this sort of thinking won’t get us anywhere. We can’t utilize something to its fullest potential if we don’t even know what the internet truly is. A lot of scholars are saying that the internet is wrecking our memory; we’re no longer able to remember simple facts because everything is easily searchable on the internet. If we research it, we’ll remember for as long as it’s important and relevant, and then forget again. This is considered to be a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be. The internet was created with our knowledge—there’s a reason cat memes are so prevalent on the internet. The internet isn’t some unreachable object we have no control over, nor should it be treated as such.

Accepting this principle would mean that people would have to accept that the internet only has as much power as we give it. We should acknowledge that it’s okay to rely on the internet for some things. After all, prior to the internet, we relied on encyclopedias and dictionaries. Both of those are now on the internet. The internet just provides an easier method of retrieving data.

Source: Google Wrecking Memory forum post

4. We should pursue the usage of video games for educational purposes.
There aren’t a lot of people in the world who consider video games educational, but that’s something that needs to change; every video game teaches something, even if it’s something small. World of Warcraft is notorious for being easily addicting. Everyone assumes that it’s nothing but a waste of time, but a lot of the people playing the game are learning valuable skills like working in a team or managing a group of people. When I was growing up, I played a lot of educational video games. I remember playing Reader Rabbit and Math Blasters, among others. I can’t say that they helped me master anything, but I definitely had a firmer grasp on the basics thanks to what the games covered.

Nowadays, people knock off video games as nothing more than a waste of time. But we’re squandering a huge potential for games to be something more than that. If society accepted them and pursued them from a more academic perspective, we’d be able to teach future generations skills they need to succeed in the world. We talked about this briefly on the forums: Minecraft is the new version of Legos, but instead of spending hundreds of dollars on pieces, the game enables children to be limitless in their creativity. They can build houses and castles and expand their imagination all while sitting in front of a computer. I don’t think we should replace schools as we have them now in any way; we should just be more aware of the effects video games could have on children if we stopped thinking of them as horrible things and took into consideration the possibilities of what could be.

Source: Minecraft forum post

5. We should re-evaluate and redesign our smartphones to accommodate our addiction to them.
Let’s face it: everybody is addicted to their Smartphone. When phones were invented, nobody thought that they would turn into a handheld device used mainly for entertainment, not communication. People use their phones for a myriad of things: video games, music, photography, texting or emailing. People could care less about phone calls, not when various apps exist that make communication easier. Everyone has become so addicted to their Smartphone that the first thing they do in the morning is check it. Everybody has become so addicted that cell phone companies are slowly eliminating regular flip phones because they’re simply not what the public wants anymore. People want a mini computer.

That being said, I think it’s time we re-evaluate our Smartphones. If people want a device tailored to their needs, we should find a way to make that happen. There was a forum post about PhoneBloks—a phone that people could make their own by investing in certain sections of it (like a better camera) and leaving other parts out. While we don’t necessarily have to do something as extreme as that, we should certainly re-evaluate how we use our phones and what the next generation of communication devices will look like. If the clarity of a phone call is the last thing on our minds, then perhaps we should place less value in verbal communication. If everyone decides that our addiction to Smartphones isn’t a positive thing, then perhaps we should take a step back and decide whether or not to continue increasing their technology.

Source: Smartphone Addiction and PhoneBloks forum posts

6. We should continue to pursue artificial intelligence.
A lot of people consider artificial intelligence to be a bad thing, but robots can do menial jobs flawlessly and prevent humans from getting hurt, then why wouldn’t we let them? I know a lot of people draw the line at robots grading papers, but the same thing is already happening when we bubble in Scantrons—a machine is reading our answers and creating a grade. Of course, multiple-choice elements are different from an essay; there should always be some sort of human element when grading essays. High-risk jobs are another matter entirely. If we can replace humans with robots in a high-risk situation and potentially save lives, it’s something that should be seriously considered. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and not putting ourselves into dangerous situations definitely falls under that category.

If society accepted this principle and decided to pursue higher forms of artificial intelligence, at the very worst people would be out of jobs. But realistically, society evolves when technology does, so perhaps we simply need to cross that bridge when we get to it. The nine to five workweek is getting outdated anyway; humans are much more efficient during shorter hours, but we keep the eight hour day to appease businesses who push the “fast and convenient” at us. An increase in artificial intelligence would help bring about a social evolution that perhaps we are in need of. We shouldn’t be afraid of artificial intelligence simply because of what we see on television or in the movies. It’s there to entertain us, not be accurate.

Source: Computer grading forum post