Category:P2P Technology Theory
How to think about the relation between technological and social change, specifically from the point of view of a 'peer to peer transition' ?
Status: ported from Technology section: A to C.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Key Quotes
- 3 Key Resources
An introduction to competing philosophical schools by Pieter Lemmens:
"In the philosophy of technology one distinguishes roughly between two opposing views about the relationship between technology and society: on the one hand technological determinism, the thesis that it is technology and technological change which determines the structure of society and/or culture, and on the other hand social or cultural determinism, the thesis that it is society and/or culture that determines the shape and character of technologies and technological change. This last view, which is held by the many Latour- and Callon-inspired social-constructivists in the Netherlands, is also referred to as the ‘social shaping of technology’ thesis. The first view is held for instance by Jacques Ellul but is also attributed sometimes to Marx.
Another broad opposition is that between the so-called autonomy theory of technology (also known as technological substantivism), and the instrumentalist view of technology. The first holds to the idea that technology and technological change have a logic of their own and are outside of human control and decision, the second claims that technology is a neutral means used by autonomously acting human beings for a variety of ends, to which technologies are indifferent. This view is also sometimes referred to as the humanist view. Substantivism is most often associated with Heidegger and Ellul, whereas liberal conceptions of technology are generally perceived as being instrumental and typically subscribing to social and/or economic determinism."
Andrew Feenberg's Quadrant of Four Technology Theories
- Technology can be: Autonomous vs Human Controlled
- and Neutral (means and ends are separated) vs Value Laden (means and end are related)
This gives us four possibilities:
- Neutral + Autonomous: Determinism (modernization theory) - Neutral + Humanly Controlled: Instrumentalism (liberal faith in progress) - Value-laden + Autonomous: Substantivism (means and ends linked in through systems) - Value-Laden and Human Controlled: Critical Theory (choice of alternative means-ends systems)
The philosophy of technology has emerged as a critique. The four quadrants (see box) exemplify these current trends.
- Instrumentalism is the dominant view: we choose our purpose then make value-neutral tools to get there. - Determinism says that we have no control because technology has its own logic as an expression of human knowledge. - Substantivism argues that technology is a value in itself, that it functions like a religious choice, excluding other alternatives.
Once a society chooses a technological path, it will be dedicated to values such as efficiency and power, and traditional values can not survive. Determinism and substantivism are closely related but the former are usually optimists (such as Marx), while the latter are usually pessimists.
Technology is about designing subjects
"Today, technology allows us a new form of design: one that designs subjects, not objects; people, not things. By designing the information someone consumes, we can frame their opinions. By designing the interactions they have with digital devices, we can frame their thinking. This is known by not only tech giants but by military intelligence. And now, it is time that it becomes known by designers - especially those at the vanguard of dying paradigms. Our environments, our tools and even our ideas are extensions of ourselves. Our clothes extend our skin’s ability to keep our body warm, and our glasses improve our eye’s ability to see. This is simple enough. But what about language, or the internet? What does it do to us? How do they extend our humanity? More importantly: can we design that extension? In this century, algorithmically powered ontological design will radically reinvent what “human” means. It will not only be used to create “better” humans, but to redesign the very concepts of “better” itself, disrupting the values of the old world order and kickstarting a struggle for the new. Creatively terrifying designs are becoming possible."
- Daniel Fraga 
What the Hyperreal World Demands from Us Is Our Participation in its Mode of Production
A crucial essay on what it means to be a 'peer':
"The cultural attitude of the early 21st century may perhaps one day be known as “the assault on concentration.” In an endless stream of information, the “new” is what counts. And when the “new” is endlessly replenished, concentration is superfluous. One does not need concentration when reality effortlessly floats by like a series of fragments, images, stimuli, informational content, episodes of a TV series, or handy slogans " ... "The proliferation of individual, yet acceptable viewpoints obfuscate a vantage point that becomes less visible over time: namely, that as an individual, one can generate universal insights. To deny this is to fully accept and internalize the postmodern assumption and its associated nihilism. To hold that one’s position “is just another narrative” is to submit oneself already to the postmodern mode of cultural production, and thereby succumbing to its oppressive and invasive logic of production. To treat one’s own convictions as mere narratives devoid of universality is to internalize the postmodern mode of cultural production, severing oneself from the exercise of one’s autonomy. If anything, a renewed and radicalized subjectivism is not the ultimate weapon of postmodernity, but against it. It is an attitudinal disposition that refuses to regard itself as a mere cog in the machine, and that actualizes the power of its own autonomy and validity through the liberating power of its subjective determinations. It does away with the bland relativism that reality is the sum total of viewpoints, thereby overcoming the postmodern, projected fear that one reasons “just from one’s own privileged perspective”, and that therefore one has to distance oneself from one’s innermost convictions. I use the term “subjectivism” as a deliberate provocation. The philosophy of high modernity abhorred subjectivism because it was seen as a nonsensical aberration that would have no place in the project of modernity. In postmodern culture, the only type of subjectivism on offer is the watered-down and marketable variety. In both cases, the exercise of individual autonomy is deeply mistrusted and undermined. Nevertheless, what appears from the viewpoint of high modern and postmodern culture as a cultural dead end appears from the viewpoint of radical subjectivism as the way forward—and more importantly, as the road to liberation and the free exercise of autonomy."
- Otto Paans 
- as recommended by Venkatesch Rao: "The Lever of Riches by Joel Mokyr, probably the most compelling model and account of how technological change drives the evolution of civilizations, through monotonic, path-dependent accumulation of changes."
- Technology, Modernity, and Democracy. Essays by Andrew Feenberg. Rowman and Littlefield, 2018. MB: I have found Feenberg to be important as a synthesis of both the critique of technology, while remaining open to a constructive usage of technology. This entry contains my reading notes.
- Ivan Illich. Tools for Conviviality: "The capacity to promote autonomy is a fundament characteristic of a convivial tool".
Pages in category "P2P Technology Theory"
The following 123 pages are in this category, out of 123 total.
- Being and Technology
- Benefits of the Second Industrial Revolution vs the Benefits of the Third Industrial Revolution
- Bernard Stiegler
- Bernard Stiegler and the Question of Technics
- Bernard Stiegler on Social Networking As the New Political Question
- Better Without AI
- Bibliography on Planetary Computation
- Biomimicry Movement
- Carrier Bag Theory of Human Technological History
- Cathedral and the Bazaar
- Citations on Underestimating the Impact of New Technologies
- Civilization, Information Technology and Societal Development
- Collective Individuation as the Future of the Social Web
- Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers
- Cosmic Evolutionary Philosophy and a Dialectical Approach to Technological Singularity
- Creating and Transforming the Twentieth Century Through Technical Innovations
- Criteria for Determining the Ethics of Artefacts
- Critique of the Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics
- Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age
- Cybernetic Hypothesis
- Cybernetics Valuable to the Commons and for Understanding AI
- John David Ebert on Gianni Vattimo's Nihilism and Emancipation Book on Postmodernity and Technology
- John David Ebert on Heidegger's Question Concerning Technology
- John David Ebert on Marshall McLuhan
- John David Ebert on Marshall McLuhan's Culture Without Literacy
- John David Ebert on Oswald Spengler's Man and Technics
- John David Ebert on Paul Virilio
- John David Ebert on Walter Benjamin's Work of Art in the Age of its Reproducibility
- Man and Technics
- Manuel Castells’s Analysis of the Breakdown of Soviet Statism
- Mary Harrington's Class Analysis of Transhumanism
- Matthew Fuller and Graham Harwood on the Invisible Power of Algorithms
- McLuhan's Phases of Media History
- Michael Martin on Ahrimanic Technology vs. Sophianic Tools
- My First Recession
- Mónica Belevan on Bataille, NFTs, and Crypto-Sovereignty
- P2P and Human Evolution Ch 2
- Periodization of Technological History
- Peter Sloterdijk on Allotechnologies vs Homeotechnologies
- Philosophy of Simondon
- Planetarity of Computation
- Planetary Engineering and the Politics of Gaia
- Political Economy of the Smallest Things
- Politics in the Age of Ecology
- Postmodernity and the Politics of Fragmentation
- Production of Subjectivity from Transindividuality to the Commons
- Technics and Civilization
- Technics and Time
- Techno-Logical Individuation
- Technological Constructionism
- Technological Determinism
- Technological Imperium
- Technological Singularity Theory
- Technology and Degrowth
- Technology and Social Change
- Technology in the Western Political Tradition
- Technology Transition Theories
- Technology, Modernity, and Democracy
- Technopolitics Research Project
- There Can Be No Return To Orality Because You Cannot Undo the Effects of Literacy
- Three-Stage Theory of Technological Evolution of Thomas Malone
- Times of the Technoculture
- Tools for Conviviality
- Toward a Novel Technological Culture
- Transformations of Man
- Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams