Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles November 2018

Monday, November 30, 2009


Human Sciences (Psychology) and Natural Sciences (Technology)

Think about all the technology that predominates over us in our lives: from our ever-fancy digital watches and mobile phones, to the highly complex home cinema systems and virtual reality video games. A new gaming culture has arisen in the wake of the technological revolution of the last ten to fifteen years.

We know from the last two posts that some people are still suspicious about how technology can be used to manipulate us into conformity and apathy. We know also that those who are producing this technology are highly creative and inventive people. So what is it about the technology that is so compelling? Consider the following thoughts:

1. Technology has always made life easier for us by saving our energy and effort.

2. Technology saves time so as to allow us more (we hate the phrase, but here it is) 'quality time' with the people and things we care for for.

3. Technology helps us to go beyond the limitations of human perception and reason - without building the right kind of ships, we couldn't have discovered the rest of the world.

4. Technology provides us with much of the information we require to base some fundamental decisions in our lives.

There are of course many downsides to each of these points - for example, the fact that we rely on machine technology to cook the pre-processed and pre-packaged food that is readily available in shops, might not only make us lazy in the kitchen, but also be harmful to our bodies and the environment.

But here's another question that we sometimes overlook: how does the technology make its way to the general public?

It sounds like a strange question to ask, especially because we take for granted everything out there in the market place, but do you really think that technological knowledge is harnessed for the benefit of you and us? That there's somone somewhere who is thinking philanthropically about helping us?

Let's be a little sceptical about this and say 'No!'.

Here's an idea that you can verify for yourselves: nearly all the technology available on the high street is funded, researched into and developed by the Government for their own purposes (which are not always the same reasons as those we voted them in for), usually to enhance the defence capacity of the nation. The technology is then re-packaged and re-distributed in small doses in the public field, trickled out in palatable forms to keep us happy.

Here are some examples:

1. Lycra: it started off as a material developed in the making of space suits, now it's used for tights and underwear.

2. Theme parks: these began life as testing grounds for military and space training: what could humans endure in extreme situations?

3. Video games: again, these were created for simulation purposes to help refine the reaction skills of soldiers and astronauts.

Nothing suspicious in this, you might think. However, if you relate this back to the economic crisis and the political decisions that are made in high places, you can begin to visualise a scenario:

  • Technology is big business and it's in the interest of governments to keep a control over it so as to ensure the business comes to them and to ensure they keep power.
  • Technology is a usful tool for controlling a population (their minds and their behaviour) - just look at CCTV, the proliferation of speed cameras and GPS systems, as well as the desire of governments to enforce an ID card system.
  • You are always under threat of having your identity stolen from credit or debit card fraudsters

In short, our lives are no longer private and in extreme cases, not our own anymore. So next time when you sneeze in the street, just beware because Big Brother is watching you!

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