As Long as Human Beings Have the Element of Choice and Exercise That Element of Choice, Technology Will Stay the Slave and Man Its Master

Topics: Human, Morality, Meaning of life Pages: 8 (2669 words) Published: November 28, 2011
As long as human beings have the element of choice and exercise that element of choice, technology will stay the slave and man its master (2000 words)

Technology has been integrated into society in a more rapid fashion that it’s an evolving part of humans’ everyday lives to the point it’s relied upon. Without realising it technology has become the master, humans no longer dictate it and most either do not make a choice or are not offered one. This essay will identify how much control technology has and if that lack of choice is forced through manipulation, persuasive methods, and new evolving technologies; or if technology has exposed human frailties to cause a loss in some characteristics that define humans i.e. free will, and conclude if it is a natural evolution that technology should become the master to prolong human existence.

To understand the characteristics of humans and technology it is important to define their interpretation and some researchers’ concept of the subjects to see if there is any overlap between the two. Vaknin, (2002) describes that a human being shows behavioural unpredictability, and can rationalise decisions based on moral judgment. Humans use basic survival instinct to evolve by manipulating their social and physical environment i.e. technology, which will be one of the points covered in this paper. Suggesting that humans have qualities to show they are still in control of their own destiny. One of humanities strengths is they are aware of their own mortality, backed up with the expression of free will. In contrast to Selinsky (2011) who believes that the human body is a technology itself and a multidimensional self-building, self-making machine when the ‘machine’ (our body) gets out of balance. Whose view is human and technology are one that has the ability to adapt, learn and build on itself. An opinion seconded by Kurzweil, (2008) who has the perception that switching machine off replicating human intelligence implies forms of euthanasia. A personal perspective of human characteristics is they can vision and have the right to express their imagination. Using that talent to adapt and build new technologies shows that humans have a choice if they are to pursue with the path of technology.

Heidegger (1993) defines technology as a means to an end. He argues that humans remained confined to technology and regardless of humans accepting its existence. That technology is a result of human activity and the manufacturing and utilisation of tools and machines, and the needs and ends that they serve, all belong to what technology is. “The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.” Is a view suggested by (Heidegger 1993) where he believes the conception of technology attempts to relate man with technology to ensure humans remain in control.

Friedman (1997) shares a view that human beings are still free moral agents although influenced by technology. Whilst they act predictably, predictability does not warrant them as automated. There is a lack of evidence to date to suggest computers have not demonstrated their ability to form their own intentions or to make their own choices and cannot yet be classed as free moral agents to dictate humanity. Subsequently when computers still make serious mistakes it is programmers, users or even nature are blamed.

One of the themes of this paper is to highlight those who are not offered a choice and identify those that exploit the way technology is used to manipulate that lack of democracy. Governments and private organisations have been using technology as a means of surveillance and control for many years (Gandy, 1994 cited from Tsagarousianou, 1988). A concern shared with Warwick (1998) who highlighted implications with real-life potential applications of the technology. They raised fears that surveillance technology knows when employees enter/exit a building or logging data to track...

References: Berdichevsky & Neuenschwander (2011) Submitted to Communications of the ACM
Ethics of Persuasive Technology
Brennan, L and Johnson V (2004) Social, Ethical and Policy Implications of Information Technology, London: Pg 49, 121
Computer (1992) Health, Computer architects for intelligent systems, IEEE Computer Society, Vol 25 No 5, May, Pg 6
Friedman, B (1997). Human Values and the Design of Computer Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nils A & Nilsson, (1995) "Eye on the Prize", Stanford University, AI Magazine, [online] Available at:
Vaknin, S (2003) Issues in Ethics 1st ed, Project Gutenberg EBook, Available at:
Zuboff, S
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