The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

Professor who summarized the impact of technology on society 30 years ago seems prescient now, in the age of smartphones and social media

Three decades ago, a historian wrote six laws to explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of technology.

.. You’ve probably never heard of these principles or their author, Melvin Kranzberg, a professor of the history of technology at Georgia Institute of Technology who died in 1995.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’

the impact of a technology depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it is often good and bad—at the same time.
.. DDT, a pesticide and probable carcinogen that nonetheless saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in India as a cheap and effective malaria prevention

.. Their enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.

 .. “The dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,”
2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’
.. the invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other technologies, from phone cases to 5G wireless.
3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small.

 

4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’

 

5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’

The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet. Many related innovations subsequently seeped into every aspect of our lives.

But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

6. ‘Technology is a very human activity.’

.. “Technology is capable of doing great things,” Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said in his 2017 commencement speech at MIT. “But it doesn’t want to do great things—it doesn’t want anything.” The point, Mr. Cook continued, is that despite its power, how we use technology is up to us.

Putin Isn’t Interested in Helping America

oward the end of his twelve-day trip to Asia, President Trump tweeted, “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There [sic] always playing politics — bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” Trump has a point. Russia can, in theory, “greatly help.” But it probably won’t, at least not “greatly.” It won’t help because Vladimir Putin and his regime don’t think helping America is in their national interest.

.. During WWI, Vladimir Lenin advocated “revolutionary defeatism.” The idea was that winning the war was pointless since it was a battle between competing capitalist ruling classes. It would be better if everyone — including Russia — lost. The masses, he hoped, would then wage a civil war to overthrow their masters.

The idea was derived in part from 19th-century revolutionary socialist Nikolay Chernyshevsky, who coined the phrase “the worse the better” — which Lenin often quoted.

The Soviet Union, despite its military might, was always a weak country. Any nation that has to rule by fear is by definition weak. If the Soviets could have invaded and defeated Western Europe and America, just as they had Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, they would have. It’s what Marxist-Leninism demanded, after all.

.. In the 1960s, the Soviets tried to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. because his message of tolerance and nonviolence was inconvenient to their cause. The KGB wanted the violent radical Stokely Carmichael to become the leader of black America.

Transcript of Richard Spencer’s Speech at Texas A&M

I’m just curious; I want to do a bit of a demographic study. If you’re a member of the media, please raise your hand. Okay, okay, put your hand own, please. That’s a very offensive gesture. Shut it down. We knew you were the lying media, but for God’s sake, that’s out of hand.

.. I actually did grow up in Texas, so I am proud to say, the Alamo did nothing wrong.

.. It is certainly the expression of the desire of a mainstream media to slander and just silence us with one thirty second footage.

.. But I think it also says something about the life of the Alt Right. We don’t allow other people to tell us what we can joke about. We don’t play by their rules. We have fun, we can be outlandish, and that is never going to stop.

.. So, the Alt Right can’t be defined by something from the past. We can’t be trapped in the past. But we also need to go forward guilt-free. We need to be high energy, we need to have fun, we need to be a little outlandish, we need to trigger the world. So all I would say is: keep it up. I love you all.

.. So what is the Alt Right? When I first started using that term, it was about mid-2008, and at that point, I think the Alt Right was fairly, you could say, negative in its meaning. We didn’t quite know exactly what it was. I knew that something was profoundly wrong with mainstream conservatism. That was evident enough with the George W. Bush administration, with the neoconservatives disastrous wars in Iraq and so on, and with the rest of the mainstream Right offering no answers, the religious Right, all that kind of stuff. I knew that we had to have a new starting point. I also knew that we needed to — this wasn’t a matter just of tweaking the Right, as it is — this was really the matter of a new beginning. Of a new starting point for conservatism in America.

You can actually look at the starting point of the conservative movement, and they talk about global capitalism, and free markets, and the Constitution, and vague Christian values of some sort. But they never ask that question of “Who are we?” They never ask that question of identity. They probably assumed it. They probably assumed a white America, a European America, but they never really asked about it and they were never really conscious of it.

.. the conservative movement became, in its way, a mirror reflection, a photographic negative, of the Soviet Union. It became an ideological nation, it became a nation based on abstract values, like “muh freedom,” “muh democracy,” “muh bombin’ muh commies and Muslims.” It was never a place; it was never a people; it was a kind of ideology. That’s what conservatism was.

.. So, in a way, George W. Bush was the founder of the Alt Right. He was at least the founder of the term, because I knew that we had to get away from that. We had to get away from him.

..  the Alt Right evolved, it took on new meanings, and in a way it was outside of my control

.. the Alt Right has been organic, that’s why it has succeeded, precisely because other people have picked it up and they have added meanings to it, and so on.

.. After I dropped out of graduate school, I worked in what you could call the anti-war conservative movement

.. I had an idea of where that new starting place was going to be. And that new starting point was going to be identity. And that was going to be the question that we asked first.

.. So what is identity? In a way, it’s the question “who are you?” We all have many different identities. You could say that you’re a student at Texas A&M. You’re into weight-lifting. You went to a Star Trek convention. You like to wear sweatpants. These are elective identities. They say something about us, but they’re elective.

.. you could say, “I’m a citizen of the United States. I grew up somewhere. We all grew up somewhere. We’re all part of something. We all come from someplace.

.. You can go even deeper, and say, “These are my parents. This is my family.” The Left in the eighteenth century had this line “an accident of birth.” An accident of birth. No birth is an accident. There’s no historical or cosmic accident in birth. You come from somewhere. You have parents. They have parents, they have a history. So you’re part of a family. And you grew up somewhere. And you can go deeper, and you can say that you are part of an ethnicity and you are ultimately part of a race.

.. You might not like this. You might really resonate to the idea that we’re all individuals, we’re all citizens. “We’re just Americans. I don’t see color. But color sees you.

.. We all see color. And race isn’t just color. Color is, in a way, a minor aspect of race. But you’re part of something. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of a bigger extended family. You’re part of this world; you’re part of this history. And that race has a story to tell.

.. As a European, I can tell a story about people, people I never will know. Our lives stretch back to prehistory. We first started to become ourselves in the Greek and Roman world. So there’s a story that involves people you’ve never met. As a European, I can tell this story about the Greeks and the Romans, about the foundation of our civilization, about empire, about the coming of Christianity.

.. Sure, Europe’s a place. It’s a place on the map, the people, the blood and its spirit.

.. I think if I were an African-American I could tell a very different story. If I were to say what that story would be, it would be about being rooted in an African continent, and enslaved and kidnapped, and going through trials that perhaps I cannot imagine, but then becoming a people. You’re still a people. That’s the story I would tell. But it’s a different story.

.. So that’s what it means to be part of a race. A race is genetically coherent, a race is something you can study, a race is about genes and DNA, but it’s not just about genes and DNA. The most important thing about it is the people and the spirit. That’s what a race is about.

.. A lot of white people do not want to have a race. They say, “Oh, I’m just an individual. I’m just an American.” You have a race whether you like it or not. You’re part of a race whether you like it or not.

..  When a Syrian refugee — so called — whether they’re from Syria or Africa or somewhere else in the middle east, when they enter Europe, they don’t look at anyone as “Oh, look, lookee there, this man, he’s Bavarian. Oh, he’s a Bavarian Catholic. Oh look, this guy must be from Ireland. Hmm, interesting. He’s Italian.” No, they don’t see that at all. They see us as white; they see us as white men. They see us as a race, and our enemy can see who we are whether we want to define ourselves as such or not. We are white.

.. You can go up, you can look at elective identities — I’m into weightlifting, I’m into Star Trek — and you can keep going down, and you go down, and down, and down, and you get to the root of identity. You get to that base, where you can’t go any further. And that is race.

.. It was an open country for Europeans who confronted people who were radically different than they were. And that confrontation, I’ll be honest, was terrible, bloody and violent. It was terrible, bloody and violent, but we conquered this continent. Whether it’s nice to say that or not, we won. And we got to define what America means, we got to define what this continent means. America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.

.. I re-watched perhaps my favorite movie, which is John Ford’s The Searchers.

.. But we won’t be out on that limb forever. At some point, Texas is going to be a wonderful place to live. It’s going to be a great place to live. But perhaps our bones have to be in the ground before that will happen.”

.. Texas is a wonderful place to live. And there are a lot of the white man’s bones in the ground to make that happen. White people did it. And I’m not going to ever claim that there wasn’t a lot of brutality that went along with it. But we did it. Our bones are in the ground, we own it, and at the end of the day, America cannot exist without us. We defined it. This country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything. We defined what America is.

.. it’s not just whoever happened to do the labor. Other people could have done it. But no one could have imagined it, no one could have designed it, because no one else did. History is proof.

..  Embedded in that slogan “Make America Great Again” is its opposite, and that is an acknowledgement that America is not great. I think we know that. I think we know that in our bones and our guts, that things are getting worse.

.. Previous generations couldn’t imagine that their children would have a worse world than they enjoyed, even a worse world than their parents enjoyed. Now 75% of white people think the country is on the wrong track; who could disagree with them, exactly? Does anyone think it’s getting better? “

..  We assume that America is not great. And it isn’t. And why isn’t it great? America is not great because in my lifetime, America has lost an essence. It’s lost a people, it’s lost a meaning.

.. they don’t talk about America as an historic nation and a people with a story, as the product of a race, of a worldview, they basically talk about America as a platform for all of humanity. They talk about America as an economic system, effectively.

.. Many have talked about the Roman Empire’s decline. It went from being a people to being a population, then to being a mob. I think that says a lot about the fall of Rome. America went from being a frontier, to being a people, then to being an economic platform for consumers from around the world. And let there be no doubt: Americanization, in this worst possible sense of the word, this is what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she said she wanted a “hemispheric open market.” This is what George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg want. They want an undifferentiated global population, raceless, genderless, identityless, meaningless population, consuming sugar, consuming drugs, while watching porn on VR goggles while they max out their credit cards.

.. Don’t deny that that is the kind of passive nihilism that so many in the elite class actually want. They want a world without roots, they want a world without meaning, they want a flat grey-on-grey world, one economic market for them to manipulate. That’s what’s happening in the world.

.. It isn’t just a great erasure of white people. It isn’t just an invasion of Europe, an invasion of the United States by the third world, it is ultimately the destruction of all peoples and all cultures around the globe.

I’m not paranoid, they’re just out to get me.

.. We might not all be able to put it into those words, but we know that that is what America is becoming. It’s becoming an homogeneous consuming mass

.. But just the fact that Donald Trump said that word “great” — “Make America Great Again” — meant that he had higher hopes than the Clintons, and the Zuckbergs, and the Bill Gates, and the George Soroses combined. That he had a sense of height, of upward movement, of greatness, of that thing that makes the white race truly unique and truly wonderful, that striving towards infinity, that however vulgar he might be that he had a sense of it.

.. What we need right now are people who are willing to speak truth to power. I find that there’s this amazing thing about the Left. And I have a certain respect for the Left, believe it or not. I understand the Left in a way. What I find so amazing about the people who are protesting me out there, who are attempting to create the largest safe space in the world of 100,000 people at Kyle Field, is that they think they’re the underdog.

.. Richard Spencer is not the Establishment. Richard Spencer is not running the government. Richard Spencer is effectively a heretic in the modern age

.. Think about those places of power. The US military, public education (academia), major corporations whether they’re financial on the east coast, Silicon Valley, what have you. What do they all agree on? “Diversity is good.” “We’re all the same.” “We’re one world.” “C’mon man, we all bleed red.

.. You might think that that kind of limp liberalism is some kind of underdog perspective, that you’re speaking truth to power by saying that nonsense. You are not speaking truth to power. The military-industrial complex agrees with you, so does every major corporation, so does the US government. You are not speaking truth to power, you are power speaking.

.. These institutions do not want you to have a sense of yourselves. They do not want you to have identity and rootedness. They do not want you to have duties to your people. They do not want you to think of yourself as part of an extended family that is bigger than any single individual, because the moment you have those duties, the moment you have that identity, is the moment that you are no longer the perfect, passive consumer-citizen that they want to create.

.. But I will tell that to white people: have a goddamn identity, have a sense of yourself. Be a part of this family.

.. Having an identity is the greatest challenge to the power structure that there is. Speaking truth to it means speaking the truth about race, about people, about nations, about who we are

The revolution was betrayed! ‘Real’ socialism is a worthy goal! It’s never been tried!

The revolution was betrayed! ‘Real’ socialism is a worthy goal! It’s never been tried!

The problem is that there will never be a “true” socialist country because ruling classes are inevitable.

.. former Communists who understood that any attempt to create a “true socialist” society runs into the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Every organization requires some small group of people to make important decisions. They may use their special knowledge and power to help people, but it’s also a sure bet that they will use it to help themselves as well. A society without democratic institutions and market mechanisms by its nature will invest bureaucrats with enormous power to make choices about how other people will live.

.. It turns out that Russian meddling in the election wasn’t reserved for generating an army of MAGA Twitter bots: A social media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

.. First of all, the notion that a totalitarian dictatorship that murdered and enslaved its own people actually cared about civil rights for Americans shouldn’t have passed the laugh test.

.. The Soviets, with the aid of useful idiots and even-more-useful agents, convinced large swathes of the world that the CIA created AIDS. During the Korean War, they fabricated “confessions” and other evidence that America used biological-warfare weapons. The Soviets undermined democratic societies — and developing countries throughout the world — with conspiracy theories planted in newspapers and TV shows and peddled by seemingly legitimate academics. Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University (no really) granted Ph.D.s in Holocaust denial and anti-Zionist canards.

.. The Soviets loved black radicals in the U.S. not because they gave a rat’s ass about black empowerment or civil rights but because they wanted to sow unrest in America.

.. the campaign sought toThe revolution was betrayed! ‘Real’ socialism is a worthy goal! It’s never been tried!

sought to replace King with Stokely Carmichael, hoping a less pacifist leader would help spark a race war within the U.S.

.. the KGB approved a plan to release explosives in “the Negro section of New York,” with one KGB official suggesting bombing “one of the Negro colleges” as a back-up option. Following the planned bombing, KGB agents would then issue anonymous phone calls “to two or three black organizations, claiming that the explosion was the work of the Jewish Defense League.”

.. Second, for the conservatives out there who have suddenly developed a strange new respect for Vladimir Putin because he’s a “strong leader” or some other flaming garbage, you should keep in mind that the former KGB agent is an unapologetic creature of that evil empire, shorn of Marxist pretense. He is doing to America today what he was trained to do.