Passion, Optimism and Techno-Utopianism

MIT Media Lab chief Joi Ito has been receiving criticism for promoting techno-utopianism in a 60 Minutes segment about technology and the impact of technologies developed in the media lab on modern society. Many argue that given the times we live in it is time for ethics and impact of science should become a critical part of the discussion. And I certainly agree with that point of view.

However, as Joi rightfully pointed out that he and his colleagues are aware of today’s reality, but a 12-minute TV segment isn’t going to delve into a thoughtful discussion, despite the fact it was on 60 Minutes, known for their journalism. One thing which stood out for me was this one line in Joi’s blog post:

Passion and optimism drive us to push the boundaries of science and technology. It’s healthy to have a mix of viewpoints-critical, contemplative, and optimistic-in our ecosystem.

I often worry, that just as pro-technology narrative got carried away from 2010 through 2017, we are seeing the pendulum swing to the opposite extreme and taking away some of the magic from technology. Something to think about, while you are reading Joi’s piece, and the comments in response to his blog post.

Letter from Om

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