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 THE 'BAD' PARTS OF TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE 'GOOD' PARTS

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PostSubject: THE 'BAD' PARTS OF TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE 'GOOD' PARTS   Thu 12 Nov 2009, 1:25 am

excerpt from the "Industrial Society and Its Future" (also called the "Unabomber Manifesto")
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Industrial_Society_and_Its_Future



THE 'BAD' PARTS OF TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE 'GOOD' PARTS

121. A further reason why industrial society cannot be reformed in
favor of freedom is that modern technology is a unified system in
which all parts are dependent on one another. You can't get rid of the
"bad" parts of technology and retain only the "good" parts. Take
modern medicine, for example. Progress in medical science depends on
progress in chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and other
fields. Advanced medical treatments require expensive, high-tech
equipment that can be made available only by a technologically
progressive, economically rich society. Clearly you can't have much
progress in medicine without the whole technological system and
everything that goes with it.

122. Even if medical progress could be maintained without the rest of
the technological system, it would by itself bring certain evils.
Suppose for example that a cure for diabetes is discovered. People
with a genetic tendency to diabetes will then be able to survive and
reproduce as well as anyone else. Natural selection against genes for
diabetes will cease and such genes will spread throughout the
population. (This may be occurring to some extent already, since
diabetes, while not curable, can be controlled through the use of
insulin.) The same thing will happen with many other diseases
susceptibility to which is affected by genetic degradation of the
population. The only solution will be some sort of eugenics program or
extensive genetic engineering of human beings, so that man in the
future will no longer be a creation of nature, or of chance, or of God
(depending on your religious or philosophical opinions), but a
manufactured product.

123. If you think that big government interferes in your life too much
NOW, just wait till the government starts regulating the genetic
constitution of your children. Such regulation will inevitably follow
the introduction of genetic engineering of human beings, because the
consequences of unregulated genetic engineering would be disastrous.
[19]

124. The usual response to such concerns is to talk about "medical
ethics." But a code of ethics would not serve to protect freedom in
the face of medical progress; it would only make matters worse. A code
of ethics applicable to genetic engineering would be in effect a means
of regulating the genetic constitution of human beings. Somebody
(probably the upper-middle class, mostly) would decide that such and
such applications of genetic engineering were "ethical" and others
were not, so that in effect they would be imposing their own values on
the genetic constitution of the population at large. Even if a code of
ethics were chosen on a completely democratic basis, the majority
would be imposing their own values on any minorities who might have a
different idea of what constituted an "ethical" use of genetic
engineering. The only code of ethics that would truly protect freedom
would be one that prohibited ANY genetic engineering of human beings,
and you can be sure that no such code will ever be applied in a
technological society. No code that reduced genetic engineering to a
minor role could stand up for long, because the temptation presented
by the immense power of biotechnology would be irresistible,
especially since to the majority of people many of its applications
will seem obviously and unequivocally good (eliminating physical and
mental diseases, giving people the abilities they need to get along in
today's world). Inevitably, genetic engineering will be used
extensively, but only in ways consistent with the needs of the
industrial-technological system. [20]

TECHNOLOGY IS A MORE POWERFUL SOCIAL FORCE THAN THE ASPIRATION FOR FREEDOM

125. It is not possible to make a LASTING compromise between
technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful
social force and continually encroaches on freedom through REPEATED
compromises. Imagine the case of two neighbors, each of whom at the
outset owns the same amount of land, but one of whom is more powerful
than the other. The powerful one demands a piece of the other's land.
The weak one refuses. The powerful one says, "OK, let's compromise.
Give me half of what I asked." The weak one has little choice but to
give in. Some time later the powerful neighbor demands another piece
of land, again there is a compromise, and so forth. By forcing a long
series of compromises on the weaker man, the powerful one eventually
gets all of his land. So it goes in the conflict between technology
and freedom.

126. Let us explain why technology is a more powerful social force
than the aspiration for freedom.

127. A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom
often turns out to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it
very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A
walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace
without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of
technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced
they appeared to increase man's freedom. They took no freedom away
from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn't
want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel
much faster than the walking man. But the introduction of motorized
transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly
man's freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it
became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car,
especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one
likes at one's own pace one's movement is governed by the flow of
traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various
obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration,
insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on
purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer
optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the
arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority
of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of
employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that
they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they
must use public transportation, in which case they have even less
control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the
walker's freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually
has to stop and wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to
serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous
and unpleasant to walk along the highway. (Note the important point we
have illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item
of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept
or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many
cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people
eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)

128. While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our
sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF
appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid
long-distance communications . . . how could one argue against any of
these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical
advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to
resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many
advantages and no disadvantages. Yet as we explained in paragraphs
59-76, all these technical advances taken together have created world
in which the average man's fate is no longer in his own hands or in
the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians,
corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and
bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence. [21]
The same process will continue in the future. Take genetic
engineering, for example. Few people will resist the introduction of a
genetic technique that eliminates a hereditary disease It does no
apparent harm and prevents much suffering. Yet a large number of
genetic improvements taken together will make the human being into an
engineered product rather than a free creation of chance (or of God,
or whatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

129 Another reason why technology is such a powerful social force is
that, within the context of a given society, technological progress
marches in only one direction; it can never be reversed. Once a
technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become
dependent on it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced
innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a
new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes
dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if
computers, for example, were eliminated.) Thus the system can move in
only one direction, toward greater technologization. Technology
repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back -- short of the
overthrow of the whole technological system.

130. Technology advances with great rapidity and threatens freedom at
many different points at the same time (crowding, rules and
regulations, increasing dependence of individuals on large
organizations, propaganda and other psychological techniques, genetic
engineering, invasion of privacy through surveillance devices and
computers, etc.) To hold back any ONE of the threats to freedom would
require a long different social struggle. Those who want to protect
freedom are overwhelmed by the sheer number of new attacks and the
rapidity with which they develop, hence they become pathetic and no
longer resist. To fight each of the threats separately would be
futile. Success can be hoped for only by fighting the technological
system as a whole; but that is revolution not reform.

131. Technicians (we use this term in its broad sense to describe all
those who perform a specialized task that requires training) tend to
be so involved in their work (their surrogate activity) that when a
conflict arises between their technical work and freedom, they almost
always decide in favor of their technical work. This is obvious in the
case of scientists, but it also appears elsewhere: Educators,
humanitarian groups, conservation organizations do not hesitate to use
propaganda or other psychological techniques to help them achieve
their laudable ends. Corporations and government agencies, when they
find it useful, do not hesitate to collect information about
individuals without regard to their privacy. Law enforcement agencies
are frequently inconvenienced by the constitutional rights of suspects
and often of completely innocent persons, and they do whatever they
can do legally (or sometimes illegally) to restrict or circumvent
those rights. Most of these educators, government officials and law
officers believe in freedom, privacy and constitutional rights, but
when these conflict with their work, they usually feel that their work
is more important.

132. It is well known that people generally work better and more
persistently when striving for a reward than when attempting to avoid
a punishment or negative outcome. Scientists and other technicians are
motivated mainly by the rewards they get through their work. But those
who oppose technilogiccal invasions of freedom are working to avoid a
negative outcome, consequently there are a few who work persistently
and well at this discouraging task. If reformers ever achieved a
signal victory that seemed to set up a solid barrier against further
erosion of freedom through technological progress, most would tend to
relax and turn their attention to more agreeable pursuits. But the
scientists would remain busy in their laboratories, and technology as
it progresses would find ways, in spite of any barriers, to exert more
and more control over individuals and make them always more dependent
on the system.

133. No social arrangements, whether laws, institutions, customs or
ethical codes, can provide permanent protection against technology.
History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all
change or break down eventually. But technological advances are
permanent within the context of a given civilization. Suppose for
example that it were possible to arrive at some social arrangements
that would prevent genetic engineering from being applied to human
beings, or prevent it from being applied in such a ways as to threaten
freedom and dignity. Still, the technology would remain waiting.
Sooner or later the social arrangement would break down. Probably
sooner, given that pace of change in our society. Then genetic
engineering would begin to invade our sphere of freedom, and this
invasion would be irreversible (short of a breakdown of technological
civilization itself). Any illusions about achieving anything permanent
through social arrangements should be dispelled by what is currently
happening with environmental legislation. A few years ago it seemed
that there were secure legal barriers preventing at least SOME of the
worst forms of environmental degradation. A change in the political
wind, and those barriers begin to crumble.

134. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is a more powerful
social force than the aspiration for freedom. But this statement
requires an important qualification. It appears that during the next
several decades the industrial-technological system will be undergoing
severe stresses due to economic and environmental problems, and
especially due to problems of human behavior (alienation, rebellion,
hostility, a variety of social and psychological difficulties). We
hope that the stresses through which the system is likely to pass will
cause it to break down, or at least weaken it sufficiently so that a
revolution occurs and is successful, then at that particular moment
the aspiration for freedom will have proved more powerful than
technology.

135. In paragraph 125 we used an analogy of a weak neighbor who is
left destitute by a strong neighbor who takes all his land by forcing
on him a series of compromises. But suppose now that the strong
neighbor gets sick, so that he is unable to defend himself. The weak
neighbor can force the strong one to give him his land back, or he can
kill him. If he lets the strong man survive and only forces him to
give his land back, he is a fool, because when the strong man gets
well he will again take all the land for himself. The only sensible
alternative for the weaker man is to kill the strong one while he has
the chance. In the same way, while the industrial system is sick we
must destroy it. If we compromise with it and let it recover from its
sickness, it will eventually wipe out all of our freedom.
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