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Gullible Jones
2014-Apr-19, 09:01 PM
Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves. Let's try and look at things from a Luddite standpoint. NB, the below is not strictly my opinion...

But medical technology saves millions of lives every year!

How many millions of monkeys, and other smart-but-not-quite-sapient critters, have been maimed and killed to make this possible? Never mind human victims of medical experimentation.

Computer technology makes large-scale exchange of information possible, thus making society freer.

a) Not as free as "primitive" egalitarian societies, which have no social oppression period (because they have no stratification at all)
b) In practice the information gets filtered and manipulated by authorities
c) The computer industry is still built on blood and slavery (c.f. conflict minerals)
d) Human society is still very stratified, and not free at all unless you're relatively privileged (like me and most everyone else posting here)

When a high-tech society comes into conflict with a low-tech one, the high-tech one wins, period.

This, I think, is the crux of the issue: technology as a military necessity. And the problem is that military superiority is not ethical superiority, which we should all know full well. I mean, when a really ruthless society comes into military conflict with a relatively more enlightened one, it's usually the ruthless one that wins.

I'll also point out that the societies exhibiting the most rapid technological progression are, historically, usually the most stratified ones. Almost as if technological progress is a byproduct of oppression and strife. (c.f. "technology demonstrates belligerence.")

Of course, I would be a hypocrite if I really believed this, seeing as I'm typing it on a computer and all. :) But I'm interested in seeing the responses, both pro and con.

profloater
2014-Apr-19, 09:24 PM
I feel rather like Ford, about culture, when the word morally gets into the question. It is a word that begs lots of questions, primarily about where do morals come from. A humanist and scientific view is that morals are social memes that help survival of a group or tribe. But when that M word gets into a question it seems to imply a different moral opinion is being promoted. You can argue that technology solves problems and has no direct moral vector. If technology gives one tribe an advantage over another tribe, which it may do, then conflict can arise but the moral debate will depend only on which tribe you support. Survival in Darwin or neo Darwin terms is not a moral issue. It is disingenuous to introduce morality into survival issues.

swampyankee
2014-Apr-19, 09:35 PM
Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves. Let's try and look at things from a Luddite standpoint. NB, the below is not strictly my opinion...

But medical technology saves millions of lives every year!

How many millions of monkeys, and other smart-but-not-quite-sapient critters, have been maimed and killed to make this possible? Never mind human victims of medical experimentation.

Computer technology makes large-scale exchange of information possible, thus making society freer.

a) Not as free as "primitive" egalitarian societies, which have no social oppression period (because they have no stratification at all)
b) In practice the information gets filtered and manipulated by authorities
c) The computer industry is still built on blood and slavery (c.f. conflict minerals)
d) Human society is still very stratified, and not free at all unless you're relatively privileged (like me and most everyone else posting here)

When a high-tech society comes into conflict with a low-tech one, the high-tech one wins, period.

This, I think, is the crux of the issue: technology as a military necessity. And the problem is that military superiority is not ethical superiority, which we should all know full well. I mean, when a really ruthless society comes into military conflict with a relatively more enlightened one, it's usually the ruthless one that wins.

I'll also point out that the societies exhibiting the most rapid technological progression are, historically, usually the most stratified ones. Almost as if technological progress is a byproduct of oppression and strife. (c.f. "technology demonstrates belligerence.")

Of course, I would be a hypocrite if I really believed this, seeing as I'm typing it on a computer and all. :) But I'm interested in seeing the responses, both pro and con.

I think that your last paragraph gets to the crux of the matter. In my personal observation, when people broadly disparage technology, they always exclude technologies they like, like clean water, clothes, fire, refrigeration, and cheap and easy long distance transport. To some extent, people do the same thing when they talk about sweat shops, with some idiotic idea that most people are being forced to leave the utopian family farm for the dystopian city. They don't seem to realize that most of the people leaving the farm are a) subsistence farmers or b) landless farm laborers. Both of these, as life cycles, suck. They also tend to omit that most of the current hunter-gatherer societies have hideously high rates of violence. In some, the homicide rate approaches 50% (I remember this statistic from a book by John Keegan), and is the primary cause of death for males.

Noclevername
2014-Apr-19, 09:39 PM
The OP sounds like a Hitler Ate Sugar (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HitlerAteSugar) argument. "People did bad things to get this, therefore we can't touch it, it's contaminated!" Bushwah. Unproven and anecdotal bushwah, to be more precise.

As far as "egalitarian" primitive societies, we know of many (not all) modern primitive pre-agricultural and early agricultural societies that live this way. About prehistoric societies' governments we know squat, except that some were buried far more elaborately and with more stuff than the average Joe, suggesting some form of hierarchy did exist.

Gullible Jones
2014-Apr-19, 09:42 PM
Well, to be honest, I'd love to believe that my OP is full of it; living with the luxuries of modern tech is nice (for me, not so much for those oppressed to get me there).

captain swoop
2014-Apr-19, 09:55 PM
a) Not as free as "primitive" egalitarian societies, which have no social oppression period (because they have no stratification at all)

Pardon?

Gullible Jones
2014-Apr-19, 09:59 PM
Pardon?

Well, that's what I learned in Uni anthro class anyway.

Swift
2014-Apr-19, 10:20 PM
Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves.
You lost me at your first sentence. I actually think there is nothing true about your first sentence. Technology is not intrinsically built upon the suffering and death of people and animals. I would also like to see some shred of evidence that it causes suffering to more people than it helps.

People have almost certainly suffered some form of suffering since before we were homo sapiens. Chimps, for example, inflict suffering on other chimps. Certainly since the invention of the most simple weapons, we have used technology to inflict harm on other humans (look at archaeological evidence of human sacrifices).

In fact, there is growing evidence that humans are becoming less violent over time. Look at this interview (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/history-and-the-decline-of-human-violence/) with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”. Look at this table of homicide rate (http://filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/homicide-table.png) in Europe from the 13th to the 20th century.

I think you have shown no evidence of your proposition.

Jens
2014-Apr-20, 07:45 AM
Well, that's what I learned in Uni anthro class anyway.

Reading Margaret Mead? It's definitely not the mainstream view today.

Shaula
2014-Apr-20, 11:12 AM
Reading Margaret Mead? It's definitely not the mainstream view today.
Indeed, I was certainly taught that there more many examples of both more and less egalitarian social traditions throughout history.

As for a few other points:

When a high-tech society comes into conflict with a low-tech one, the high-tech one wins, period.
Demonstrably false. Afghanistan has proven that to the British and the Soviets. Both Attila and Genghis showed that more 'sophisticated' and 'high tech' cultures could be overcome. The Germanic pseudo-conquest of Rome. The Roman conquest of Britain part one. The German conquest of Russia in the Second World War. The Boer war. So many examples.


when a really ruthless society comes into military conflict with a relatively more enlightened one, it's usually the ruthless one that wins.
Apart from, say, The First World War, Second World War, Korean War, the Persian assault on Greece and so on. It is way, way more complex than this simple statement.


I'll also point out that the societies exhibiting the most rapid technological progression are, historically, usually the most stratified ones.
Apart from Roman, Early Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Harrapan, Democratic Greece, post-Tsar Russia ... In fact I think your statement is almost the opposite of the mean historical trend.

In fact I disagree with just about everything you said in the first post, but without some meaningful metric or way to actually look at this in a useful way we'd just be throwing counter-examples at each other until the heat death came for us.

JohnD
2014-Apr-20, 12:03 PM
Shaula,
"Demonstrably false. Afghanistan has proven that to the British and the Soviets. Both Attila and Genghis showed that more 'sophisticated' and 'high tech' cultures could be overcome. The Germanic pseudo-conquest of Rome. The Roman conquest of Britain part one. The German conquest of Russia in the Second World War. The Boer war. So many examples."
Technology must always be tempered by morality. Yes, the Western powers did not acheive what was originally intended in Afghanistan, but that may have been because they limited what their military could do, for moral as a well as expedient reasons, when their opponents had different rules. I would argue more but I fear this verges onto politics and would be outwith the Board Rules.

John

Shaula
2014-Apr-20, 12:24 PM
Technology must always be tempered by morality. Yes, the Western powers did not acheive what was originally intended in Afghanistan, but that may have been because they limited what their military could do, for moral as a well as expedient reasons, when their opponents had different rules. I would argue more but I fear this verges onto politics and would be outwith the Board Rules.

John
I am not arguing the politics, 'rightness' or anything else about these conflicts - the statement made was that the high-tech ones win period. Which is patently false. At the time the British army was among the most technologically advanced and largest military forces on the planet. The first invasion around 1840 resulted in the British gaining precisely nothing, in fact their war aims were if anything pushed backwards - it was a loss and for the British at the time a bad one. The second one resulted in a British victory. The last one was basically a draw or perhaps a minor win for the British. So claiming that whoever has the shiniest stick auto-magically wins is simplistic and wrong.

Noclevername
2014-Apr-20, 01:31 PM
Is technology morally acceptable?
Given Earth's current population dependent on technological infrastructure, it has to be. The alternative is the majority of billions starving, spreading plagues, fighting over water and other scarce resources, and generally suffering horribly before dying. Not very moral.

blueshift
2014-Apr-20, 03:27 PM
Technology ushers in new modifications to past morals. It introduces updated contradictions and remaps many institutions. I know many pacifists who refused to study technology because they thought it was evil and I know other pacifists who wanted to invent "anti-bombs" and radar jamming and other counter military devices that would bring about a stalemate between enemies. Technology has us looking at our morals more so than in the past. People are wired more tightly and seem far more sensitive today object to war more than in the past and it is technology that has forced us to see other cultures more readily and in greater detail than it did in the past.

jokergirl
2014-Apr-20, 03:56 PM
Wait what?

Is it morally acceptable to wear clothes? Is it morally acceptable to live in a house? To protect yourself from the cold? To eat food that you haven't picked in the wild with your bare hands?

All those things are technology. This question isn't even wrong, it's intrinsically flawed.

;)

swampyankee
2014-Apr-21, 10:10 AM
Wait what?

Is it morally acceptable to wear clothes? Is it morally acceptable to live in a house? To protect yourself from the cold? To eat food that you haven't picked in the wild with your bare hands?

All those things are technology. This question isn't even wrong, it's intrinsically flawed.

;)

Technology creates choices. I have more choices than a hunter-gatherer. It can also change morality for the better: I think it's no coincidence that the movement to abolish slavery only gained popular support after the steam engine.

Jens
2014-Apr-21, 11:15 AM
All those things are technology. This question isn't even wrong, it's intrinsically flawed.

;)

Very good point. I was going to mention that the "primitive" societies mentioned in the OP all use technology. In fact humans would likely fail as a species without technology.

Noclevername
2014-Apr-21, 11:32 AM
Technology predates humanity; the first known technology that we have direct remnants of, percussive flint knapping, started over two and a half million years ago with ancestors who had only slightly more brain development as modern chimpanzees. Evidence of earlier deliberate tool-shaping (serrated cutting grooves on bones) goes back another million years to the Australopithecines, who were basically chimps who walked upright. It is doubtful that they had a specific moral code or any other abstract philosophy.

Cougar
2014-Apr-21, 01:08 PM
....the Australopithecines, who were basically chimps who walked upright. It is doubtful that they had a specific moral code or any other abstract philosophy.

Well, not an abstract philosophy, but I always liked Carl Sagan's point:



"Ethical rules... were not originally invented by some enlightened human lawgiver. They go deep into our evolutionary past. They were with our ancestral line from a time before we were human."



Humans are social creatures.

I think profloater's original response was quite relevant. Morality is subjective.

primummobile
2014-Apr-21, 05:36 PM
Technology creates choices. I have more choices than a hunter-gatherer. It can also change morality for the better: I think it's no coincidence that the movement to abolish slavery only gained popular support after the steam engine.

Technology such as steam power and the cotton gin created a need for more laborers (slaves), not fewer. It was the rise of abolitionist newspapers that most fueled the popular abolitionist movement beginning in the 1830s. Steam power was only peripherally related to that in that it helped to spread the ideas. It wasn't because steam power replaced manual labor. A cotton gin, particularly a steam powered gin, needs to be fed massive amounts of cotton. That all had to be picked by hand. Extracting the fuel to power those steam engines was very labor intensive also.

redshifter
2014-Apr-21, 05:52 PM
Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves. Let's try and look at things from a Luddite standpoint. NB, the below is not strictly my opinion...

But medical technology saves millions of lives every year!

How many millions of monkeys, and other smart-but-not-quite-sapient critters, have been maimed and killed to make this possible? Never mind human victims of medical experimentation.



How many? If you're going to justify no vaccines, antibiotics, X-rays, etc. or the 'morality' thereof because 'millions of sapients, humans, etc. were killed to make this possible', you need numbers to prove it. I have a hard time believing more humans and other sapients were killed because of testing/research than have been saved by vaccines and antibiotics.

blueshift
2014-Apr-22, 03:52 AM
Technology creates choices. I have more choices than a hunter-gatherer. It can also change morality for the better: I think it's no coincidence that the movement to abolish slavery only gained popular support after the steam engine.As far as the number of choices being greater? I am not so sure. Too little population of data. I think it is a dead trade off. They only need 12 hours of labor per week to survive and it gives them more free time to reject or continue in their existence. They sure have darker skies and less light pollution than we do. No back up beepers or car alarms go off in the middle of their night.

Keep in mind that I am not painting their life as being superior. Their life expectancy, murder rate and divorce rate matches ours. The number of choices are likely equal but I like our toys better than theirs - especially my newest video astronomy toys.

http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2014/01/27/huntergatherers-vs-the-farmers/

Glom
2014-Apr-22, 08:29 AM
Technology such as steam power and the cotton gin created a need for more laborers (slaves), not fewer. It was the rise of abolitionist newspapers that most fueled the popular abolitionist movement beginning in the 1830s. Steam power was only peripherally related to that in that it helped to spread the ideas. It wasn't because steam power replaced manual labor. A cotton gin, particularly a steam powered gin, needs to be fed massive amounts of cotton. That all had to be picked by hand. Extracting the fuel to power those steam engines was very labor intensive also.

Funnily enough, I was just watching Simon Schama the other day and he said that abolition in the British Empire happened at a time when the economic benefits of continuing slavery were at a height. It's a nice thought that slavery was abolished because everyone finally realised it was evil rather than just it was deemed to be poor business.

swampyankee
2014-Apr-22, 09:53 AM
Slavery remains economically viable. It also appeals to the subset of humans who have an emotional need to brutalize other humans.

iquestor
2014-Apr-22, 12:44 PM
questioning whether 'technology' is morally acceptable is like asking if we should abolish guns because people use them to kill other people.

Technology is neither good nor bad. It's people who are moral or immoral according to the standards of their society.

DonM435
2014-Apr-22, 12:52 PM
See? It's difficult to discuss this apart from politics.

Things that are do-able are going to be done. We can only hope that they're done by people with the best interests of humanity in mind, and try to see that this happens.

Click Ticker
2014-Apr-22, 01:24 PM
Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves.

If that is the case, then why has the global population and average standard of living exploded over the last two centuries as technology has advanced? As far as animals, I don't believe it's the animals being used in scientific experiments that are on the endangered species list or going extinct. Not saying they don't suffer from experiments, just that it doesn't cause the death of many more than are saved.

If the premise were true, the global polulation would be in a decline (causing the death of more than are saved).

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 03:13 PM
I don't think slavery is economically viable. It would take a small army of people to accomplish the work my tractor can do with a few attachments. I don't have to provide food or shelter or medical care for those. At least, not nearly to the extent I would need to for human workers.

NEOWatcher
2014-Apr-22, 04:36 PM
I don't think slavery is economically viable.
It depends on what the task is.
There are still menial jobs around where automation doesn't help.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2014-Apr-22, 04:57 PM
Isn't technology the outcome of evolution? I don't think humanity could have survived without a certain amount of agressiveness. We are what we are. The question is; who else in the universe has survived based upon agressive behavior? Being nice is nice; but it don't always get the rice...the very first scene in 2001 kind of suggests this...

Swift
2014-Apr-22, 05:00 PM
Isn't technology the outcome of evolution?

...The question is; who else in the universe has survived based upon agressive behavior?
We have a data set of one data point, so I don't think we have an answer to either of those questions.

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 05:24 PM
It depends on what the task is.
There are still menial jobs around where automation doesn't help.

This is true. But could you achieve through forced labor the same results as you would achieve by paying another person to do the task? If you owned other people you would be providing everything for them and their offspring. You would need to provide things that lower wage jobs don't provide for. Before the slave trade was outlawed, one slave cost a fortune to buy. So you wouldn't want to not support their offspring. People who are sick or injured can't work. So you'd have to provide medical care. You'd have to provide food, clothing, and shelter.

I think the key here is fuel. As soon as the process of extracting fuel from the earth became significantly less labor intensive, slaves became economically unviable. I would argue that the practice of slavery, at least in the United States, was outlawed before that happened.

However, maybe I shouldn't be so US-centric in my analysis. Only 10% of the people sold into slavery in the new world ended up in the United States. The impetus for ending slavery in those other countries may have been different.

Swift
2014-Apr-22, 05:28 PM
Gullible Jones,

I'm curious as to whether your opinion has changed, given all the discussion in this thread. You are under no obligation to respond, but I am curious.

iquestor
2014-Apr-22, 05:31 PM
Isn't technology the outcome of evolution?

Nope. Technology is the by-product of intelligence + body plan capable of tool using.


I don't think humanity could have survived without a certain amount of agressiveness. We are what we are.

Yep. Without technology, modern humans aren't as equipped to thrive as a predator as other non-intelligent predators are. technology gives us a superior advantage in almost every situation, and we take advantage of that, which translates to aggressiveness.

Noclevername
2014-Apr-22, 05:39 PM
Nope. Technology is the by-product of intelligence + body plan capable of tool using.


Both of which are the result of evolution. We evolved as curious and intelligent tool users, resulting in us developing the complex tool use that we now call technology.

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 05:47 PM
Yep. Without technology, modern humans aren't as equipped to thrive as a predator as other non-intelligent predators are. technology gives us a superior advantage in almost every situation, and we take advantage of that, which translates to aggressiveness.

That depends what you mean by technology. Give me a good stone-tipped spear along with some trustworthy and capable companions also armed and I wouldn't worry much about any situation I would encounter on land. Most of our aggressiveness toward animals is motivated by the same thing that makes a lion aggressive: hunger.

NEOWatcher
2014-Apr-22, 05:58 PM
This is true. But could you achieve through forced labor the same results as you would achieve by paying another person to do the task? If you owned other people you would be providing everything for them and their offspring. You would need to provide things that lower wage jobs don't provide for.
Why not? If someone and their family can survive on a lower wage job, then you can provide it and find ways to cut the costs.


Before the slave trade was outlawed, one slave cost a fortune to buy. So you wouldn't want to not support their offspring.
Offspring become valuable young workers.


People who are sick or injured can't work. So you'd have to provide medical care. You'd have to provide food, clothing, and shelter.
You would? Why do you think so many slaves died?
Imagine that, humane slavery.



I would argue that the practice of slavery, at least in the United States, was outlawed before that happened.
Yet; we still have slavery today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery), and it's not just a few so-called 3rd world nations.

iquestor
2014-Apr-22, 06:06 PM
Both of which are the result of evolution. We evolved as curious and intelligent tool users, resulting in us developing the complex tool use that we now call technology.

that's certainly true, however evolution isn't the direct cause of technology; 99.999% of other life forms on Earth underwent evolution that didn't result in technology.
its a minor point though, admittedly.


That depends what you mean by technology. Give me a good stone-tipped spear along with some trustworthy and capable companions also armed and I wouldn't worry much about any situation I would encounter on land. Most of our aggressiveness toward animals is motivated by the same thing that makes a lion aggressive: hunger.

a spear is technology. any tool we make and use, or any idea that is implemented with a physical manifestation is by definition technology.

We can be aggressive towards a Bear because the spear technology gives us an edge. without it, we would have no hope of killing and eating bear.

Noclevername
2014-Apr-22, 06:15 PM
that's certainly true, however evolution isn't the direct cause of technology; 99.999% of other life forms on Earth underwent evolution that didn't result in technology.
its a minor point though, admittedly.


Huh? I'm talking about humans, not other species. Their evolution did not result in them looking like humans either; that's how evolution works, it diversifies into many variations.

Humans are tool users because that's how we adapted to survive. Other species run faster or can fly or have better senses or other adaptations that we don't. And yes, there are species that modify their tools as well; Gorillas create termite collection tools, which they then teach to their offspring. Learned, complex behavior.

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 06:18 PM
Why not? If someone and their family can survive on a lower wage job, then you can provide it and find ways to cut the costs.

Most people can't support children on minimum wage. They need outside assistance. That was the point.



Offspring become valuable young workers.

Yes. I said you wouldn't want to not support the children. And that is precisely why, and because of the fact that buying a slave cost more than what most people earned in a year. But offspring are also tremendously expensive for several years before they become valuable young workers. With the menial jobs available today, I would be better off paying someone minimum wage to do it. It would be less expensive for me.



You would? Why do you think so many slaves died? Imagine that, humane slavery.

Why don't you tell me why the vast majority of slaves in the United States didn't die because of their treatment. Is it because they had no food to eat? Are people who are sick and starving good workers? Do they get a lot done? Harvesting cotton, like any other crop, has to be done on a time schedule. Believe it or not, most slave owners in the United States understood this and kept the majority of their slaves healthy. Many slaves, even after emancipation, stayed on with their former owners.




Yet; we still have slavery today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery), and it's not just a few so-called 3rd world nations.

Yes, we have slavery. And the vast majority of it is in countries that aren't technologically advanced. That article also includes sex trade and prison labor as slavery, neither of which are relevant to the discussion of whether slavery is economically viable in a technologically advanced area.

You seem to think that I have this rosy picture of slavery or that I think slavery is okay. I don't and I don't. What I am saying is that slavery was abolished in the United States more out of moral considerations than technological considerations, and that in a technologically advanced area you would be hard pressed to find an instance where owning another person was more economical than either using technology or paying another person for the few hours needed to accomplish some task rather than providing all means of support for the person doing that.

Swift
2014-Apr-22, 06:20 PM
Gorillas create termite collection tools, which they then teach to their offspring. Learned, complex behavior.
Now, there's an interesting question.

If other apes create tool (I thought it was chimps that made the termite collectors and the leaf sponges, but no matter), and we define even such simple tools as technology (which I would), then are other apes immoral?

Is a bird or an otter that uses a rock to open a shell immoral? There have been documented cases of crows dropping nuts onto streets, in front of traffic, so that when the cars roll over them, they break open - is that immoral?

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 06:20 PM
a spear is technology. any tool we make and use, or any idea that is implemented with a physical manifestation is by definition technology.

We can be aggressive towards a Bear because the spear technology gives us an edge. without it, we would have no hope of killing and eating bear.

My point was that a spear is little more than a stick. Chimpanzees use sticks. It isn't the technology that gives us the edge. It's the brain that develops the technology that gives us the edge. And that brain evolved.

Gillianren
2014-Apr-22, 06:41 PM
Yes, we have slavery. And the vast majority of it is in countries that aren't technologically advanced. That article also includes sex trade and prison labor as slavery, neither of which are relevant to the discussion of whether slavery is economically viable in a technologically advanced area.

Mmm. And one of the other reasons slavery continues in certain regions is that they are picking agricultural products for which there is no machinery developed to do the same thing. Which is the case in a lot of places in the US, in some of which people are just paid less than the legal wage because they know the workers won't complain.

NEOWatcher
2014-Apr-22, 06:54 PM
You seem to think that I have this rosy picture of slavery or that I think slavery is okay.
No; I'm only questioning your economics of slavery.
Yes; with moral considerations there is no way the economics work.

I think we essentially agree, there just seems to be a mix of comparing past and modern conditions along with what moral commitment you would have in today's world. For instance:

Most people can't support children on minimum wage. They need outside assistance. That was the point.
That's to live in a modern society.
Take them out of that society and make them live in enslaved conditions (give them a shack on your land, some clothes, and feed them) it becomes much cheaper. While being enslaved the amount needed to spend on electric bills, travel expenses, school expenses, clothing, rent, etc. is much lower.


... and that in a technologically advanced area you would be hard pressed to find an instance where owning another person was more economical than either using technology or paying another person for the few hours needed to accomplish some task rather than providing all means of support for the person doing that.
Yes; It would have to be something done regularly, and something that someone would demand a very high price to do.

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 07:05 PM
Mmm. And one of the other reasons slavery continues in certain regions is that they are picking agricultural products for which there is no machinery developed to do the same thing. Which is the case in a lot of places in the US, in some of which people are just paid less than the legal wage because they know the workers won't complain.

Right. And any technology that comes along to replace migrant workers is quickly implemented. We've seen this happen recently on citrus and tree nut farms.

If you owned horses for plowing, you could expect to spend $500 a month on maintenance per horse. That doesn't include the cost of buying the horses or any medical costs or equipment. That is just to keep them fed and sheltered. Or you could buy a diesel tractor with a plow. There's a reason you don't see anyone but the Amish using horse drawn plows.

The same thing is true for human labor. In the majority of cases it is far less expensive rent human labor rather than owning it.

primummobile
2014-Apr-22, 07:10 PM
No; I'm only questioning your economics of slavery.
Yes; with moral considerations there is no way the economics work.

I think we essentially agree, there just seems to be a mix of comparing past and modern conditions along with what moral commitment you would have in today's world. For instance:

That's to live in a modern society.
Take them out of that society and make them live in enslaved conditions (give them a shack on your land, some clothes, and feed them) it becomes much cheaper. While being enslaved the amount needed to spend on electric bills, travel expenses, school expenses, clothing, rent, etc. is much lower.


Yes; It would have to be something done regularly, and something that someone would demand a very high price to do.

We'll probably have to disagree on this. My point is that historically, slaves in the United States were usually treated better than slaves in other parts of the world. People have this idea of the south being full of slaves, but that's not true. Only the very rich owned slaves because only the very rich could afford to buy and keep slaves. If you have a population of people that you can afford to throw away and not take care of then I guess slavery could be economical. But throughout most of history slaves were usually treated better than what people usually imagine. I'm not saying it was ever the right or moral. All I'm saying is that for most slave owners throughtout history, owning slaves was very expensive. A lot more expensive than it is to own a robot vacuum cleaner or a car or a tractor.

NEOWatcher
2014-Apr-22, 08:23 PM
We'll probably have to disagree on this.
I guess so, because everything you say I agree with.

It's just that our view of what slavery in today's world might be like that seems to differs. But; without going into certain controversial subjects, and not having a modern day reference, it's hard to come to a conclusion.

Swift
2014-Apr-22, 08:33 PM
While the issue of slavery does relate to both technology and morals, I'm a little concerned that we might be getting a little too off topic, and a little too far into borderline topics for CQ (especially as we get into current slavery). If everyone has said their piece, maybe we could let the topic of slavery go, and concentrate on the main thrust of the OP.

Thanks,

Jens
2014-Apr-22, 09:51 PM
questioning whether 'technology' is morally acceptable is like asking if we should abolish guns because people use them to kill other people.

Without getting into the specific issue you raise, I would say it's a different issue. For example, saying that we shouldn't put safety devices on machines because most people will be OK or that we should not restrict ownership of specific dangerous tools seems to take the idea too far.

publiusr
2014-Apr-26, 06:36 PM
Nature itself is far more guilty of cruelty than any technology. Asteroid strikes have more death behind them than many nukes, and yet all this violent "stirring" is necessary for us to exist. Anything naturally possible is mandatory. If we do not condem nature--we should not condemn tech, in that it opens up the possibilities of existence still farther.

I take the opposite view of the Unabomber--that technodiversity is more important than biodiversity. Wipe out a triceratops (torosaurus?) and a rhino takes its place. Both are really the same animal.

But tech really is an example of intel design. If the last comsat dies in orbit after a disaster--it cannot re-evolve.

swampyankee
2014-Apr-26, 09:39 PM
Cruelty requires mind and the potential for a moral code. The universe has neither; humans have both. As to slavery? In most places, at most times the average life span of a slave was less than five years: working them to death and replacing them was cheaper than the alternative. It was rare for an enslaved population to reproduce at near the rate required to sustain itself.

Technology provides choices; people make moral or immoral choices.

Van Rijn
2014-Apr-27, 05:52 AM
Is technology morally accaptable?


What are your conditions for deciding what is moral? It's pointless to argue "pro or con" if we don't agree on what would make something morally acceptable.


Seeing as it is invariably built upon the suffering and death of many more people (and animals) than it saves.


I'm also unclear on what is meant by "save" versus "suffering and death." All animals die, and technology hasn't changed that. It is virtually certain that an individual of any species with a complex nervous system will feel pain and suffer at some point in their life, but that isn't the only thing they can feel. It is undoubtedly true that technology, especially agriculture, has allowed a far larger human population than would otherwise be possible, so there have been more people to suffer and die, but also more people to feel happiness and joy. Does that make agriculture immoral?

If we managed to destroy all life on Earth using technology, we would end all suffering on the planet now. Without us, complex life on Earth will likely continue until the sun bakes the planet, so there would be many more individuals to live and then go on to suffer and die. Does that make destruction of life on the planet moral?

Humanity, using technology, is the only species on the planet that has the potential to take complex life to other worlds and escape the inevitable end of life on Earth. This would naturally increase the total deaths and suffering of humans and other species. Does this make space travel immoral?