Oude wijn in nieuwe zakken. (Dutch expression, meaning: nice try, but nothing new, just a different label / package for the same content)
In Hinglish: same, same or, more elaborate: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Unless we escape from the paradigm that all growth is economic growth and that all economic growth is by definition desirable we will not be able to create truly humane tech.
The problem with modern day tech is not the engineers or technicians, but the driving forces behind the choices that are made to decide which tech to develop and with which parameters and environmental impact. These forces are mostly financial interest based on scarcity principles and driven by greed and hunger for power.
As long as we define humans as having a skull comparable to a bag of water and determine the impact of tech on humans by measuring how much the temperature of an average skull-size bag of water increases when applying modern tech to it, we have proven not to understand what it means to be human.
As long as we live by the dogma that “God is dead” or “who needs God to explain nature” we are not truly holistic and all-including in our thinking.
As long as the vast majority of the world population are non-vegetarians we shouldn’t really be too worried about the impact of tech on the planet.
As long as meditation is considered a luxury of the well-developed countries, we don’t show respect for the oldest democracy in the world, the country that until fairly recently never felt the need to conquer or expand beyond its own boundaries and has a very long tradition of spirituality as the founding block of that society, including virtually any other spiritual or religious movement in its daily life without too much strive or wars.
At the core of humane tech are two questions, one of which is relatively well understood. We (the West and many other regions by now and historically) have a fairly good understanding of tech on the level of what we can refer to as Newtonian Science and even into Quantum Physics.
What’s lacking is a fair understanding of what being human implies and encompasses.
The question of tech revolves around: “Who am I” or “What is a human” or even, watered-down a bit “what are the moral considerations to take into account when talking about humane tech”.
Applying morality to decision making is a small step in the right direction.
As the American Indians used to say: “Is this decision going to be considered the right one by our grand-grand-grand children. “ Modern day morality according to some is the justification to keep those who are in control right now in power. “You have to defend your country” is a nice example in which parties that are not involved but financially benefit play both sides of a conflict, all based on “being a good citizen”.
As my Godfather (who spent time in a German Concentration camp during WWII) used to say: “The only bad Germans are the ones you don’t know”, basically meaning… We are all human, at the end of the day we all want the same thing.
Just Google Denise Williams for (sheer endless) talks on how morality has very little to do with spirituality or “the well being of all involved”.
Digital Detox weeks without a solid spiritual foundation is just another band-aid or “Yeah, I have tried that, it didn’t work” and business as usual continues.
Unless we address the core questions of what it means to be human and how to live a fulfilling life we will never be able to create humane tech.
We are a long way from home as long as most people read this on a mobile device, exposing themselves to information overflow and endless wireless radiation.
The Yogis are doing their best to get us out of our heads and into our body (mostly heart); the ashrams are overflowing with people who are confused and tired of living the modern empty life. Gatherings of 10 and sometimes 100-thousands of people who basically long for a few minutes of peace of mind.
Humane tech is not the answer to human suffering; knowledge, introspection and practise are.
But sure, pick your battles wisely, don’t go overboard or lean too much on one side of the ship or it will flip over.