Review n. 1, ISKM57 Reading Seminar: Educational Technology and Learning Society
Over all I really enjoyed reading Luciano Floridi’s The Fourth Revolution. His argumentation throughout the text is clear a convincing, it easily grabs one’s attention. After reading two chapters (2: Space: Infosphere; 4: Self-understanding: The Four Revolutions) I stay motivated to read the whole book, to fill in all the missing parts in the fascinating picture Floridi is painting.
From this reason I do not seek to critically evaluate all the thoughts presented in The Fourth Revolution. Instead I would like to mention few moments I find subjectively interesting and worth discussing (and believe me, it was difficult to choose only these! 🙂 ).
People as “living tools”
Floridi is distinguishing three generations of technologies based on the changing relationship between humans, nature and technology. First-generation technologies, such as knife, stand between the user (human) and the nature. Second-generation technologies greater the distance – user interacts with one technology to access another one, for example when he uses a key to open a door.
Third-generation technologies exclude the user completely – there is no need for “human’s touch” when it comes to synchronizing Google Calendar between two devices. Pretty sci-fi, huh?
Although it may seem so, Floridi argues that the third-generation technology is actually rather old concept. In ancient, and unfortunately also later societies, slaves served as this type of technology to the ones with power. Nowadays robots may serve the same purpose.
Fear of being out of the loop
But what are the psychological effects on humans? How do we feel about the evolution of technologies? The answer might bring light to a lot of confusion, fear and tension in present society.
The second-generation technologies are mostly the inventions of modern society. The modern mindset is still persistent in the minds of many people among the generations, but mostly the ones born before Generation X. The clash of viewing the world between the pre-X and X-after generations can be seen for example in congressmen interrogating Mark Zuckerberg with pretty bizarre questions. 🙂
What the third-generation technologies cause is placing the humans out of the “loop”. We are no longer needed, we are no longer privileged to control all the processes attached to the technologies. Does that make us feel relieved that we have “less work”, or do we fear we are losing control of our lives?
The four revolutions
This is not the first time the humankind stands in front of a big shift. Floridi says that any revolution changes the way we are thinking about the world and also the way we are thinking about ourselves.
First big revolution was Copernican revolution which taught us that the Earth is not in the centre of the universe. Second revolution, the one Charles Darwin imposed, went even further – humans are no different from other animals when it comes to the process of evolution. We are all beings of nature, evolving to advanced organisms from the very simple ones.
Third shift was caused by Sigmund Freud and his notion of unconsciousness. He exposed, that not even our trust in human reason and its uniqueness and reliability should be without doubt. The forth revolution comes with Alan Turing and the invention of ICTs, which dethroned humans from the superior position of the only beings that can reckon and do logical operations.
What are the implications of these revolutions? They correct our view of humankind as central and superior to all the other forms of living and non-living entities. We are no longer in the centre of the universe nor the nature, our reason is not crystal clear and can be outsmarted pretty easily by ICTs.
The rise of human creativity?
I think there is no point in crying about the “lost privilages” of past times, they were all false anyway. 😉 The computer can count better and faster than us, it can store much more information than our brains etc. – we should accept these facts and try to ask more interesting questions. What is it, that makes us human? What do we posses, that animals nor ICTs does not (so far)?
In my opinion, one of the possible answers could be the creativity in all its broadness. What do you think? 😉