Do we end up in a position where a critique of technology functions as part of the same technological system — i.e., where criticism becomes just another piece of input, another feedback loop programmed into the machinery? If we really think cybernetically, when we repair or upgrade a machine, program, or mechanism, are we not also becoming a part of the machinery, an instrument for its improvement?
Yes, according to what we call second-order cybernetics, humans and machines are connected in a recursive movement, which becomes an instance of what Hegel calls a master-slave dialectic.
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Historically, in Europe the commons was not a major affair. The lands that the lords and abbots set aside for the use of their serfs amounted to not much more than a sop to encourage their continuing subservience. In some areas it played a bigger role than in others, but all over Europe, the peasants were in constant upheaval trying to get out from under the thumb of the landlords. As towns emerged and guilds of skilled craftspeople developed in the early Middle Ages, prospects of more autonomy enticed peasants to the towns.
It may be stretching the historic record to say the guilds offered another world of possibility for the peasants. What we can say is that the growing opposition of workers to the rise of industrial capitalism in the 19th Century looked back several centuries and saw it that way.
Cybersalon Afrofuturism Event: Reclaiming Cyberspace, with Douglas Rushkoff, David Bering-Porter, Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, Derek Richards, Richard Barbrook and Steven Oram and hosted by Eva Pascoe.