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Does Technology Over-Determine the Future?

Lecture Outline: 


Most turn on a Fork in the Road

But today, focus on SYSTEM technology is embedded in

Futuristic visions illuminate that system

That is because they are built on CRITIQUE of current social relations

Gadgets are cool

But it is the way gadgets are DEPLOYED that shapes their use

Lanier’s Thesis

Millions provide the raw data – information

Only the few aggregators benefit monetarily

Lanier caricatures utopian visions (computational model)

 and dystopian vision (massive disenfrachisement)

to suggest solution:

Pay people for their information

What current concerns does Lanier’s futuristic vision shed light on?

Wealth gap

Technological unemployment

Imbalance in organizational capacity

Visions of the future shed light on social relations today

By projecting a few key features of society into the future

Which causes us to see them in a new light – today.


  • Visions of the future



  • Blade Runner (1982) Blade Runner, DVD, directed by Ridley Scott (1982 CA:Warner  Bros., 2007). To view via online streaming, log into the Digitizing America Collab siteand select "Kaltura Media Gallery" on the left side menu.



What is the relationship between technology and society?

Visions of the future


Computerburger  From Popular Mechanics, 1966

Lanier, Jaron. Who Owns the Future?. First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013, “Motivation,” 7-21;

Moore, G.E., "Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits," Proceedings of the IEEE , vol.86, no.1, pp.82,85, Jan. 1998

**Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism : 1-16

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: And Why We Should Worry. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), ch. 2, "Google's Ways and Means: Faith in Aptitude and Technology," pp. 51-81.


Blade Runner (1982) Blade Runner, DVD, directed by Ridley Scott (1982 CA:Warner  Bros., 2007). For some reason Netflix is no longer streaming Blade Runner. Multiple copies of the film are on reserve in Clemons and you can also rent the film from both Amazon instant video or iTunes for $2.99. We apologize for any confusion.  


Please pick one article from the article exercise page linked below that has not already been chosen and write a one page essay on how this particular projection for the future worked out.  If possible, please engage the readings or the film to comment on enduring conceptions and misconceptions of new technology.  The essay is due in section— No late assignments will be accepted. 

Article Exercise - Past Visions of the Future