March 21, 2006

Rushkoff, Kurzweil to be on CNN special

IEET fellow Douglas Rushkoff was recently recorded for a CNN special called Welcome to the Future, along with Jeff Greenfield, Ray Kurzweil, Mirka De Arellano, and Margaret Cho. The program will air on CNN Saturday March 25 at 7pm EST, and will be repeated Sunday at the same time.

Rushkoff has an account of the experience on his blog. Here's an excerpt:
It was a strange and long journey into various utopian and dystopian high-tech scenarios concerning everything from nano-bots implanted in two-year-olds so they can compete for places at increasingly selective nursery schools to why we never got to ride go carts on Mars even though Lost in Space was set in 1997.

I found Kurzweil brilliant but a little creepy. I'm usually on the gung-ho pro-technology side of discussions, so it was fun to be voicing some of the more cautionary concerns for a change. Of course, I've never really been pro-tech or anti-tech - just pro "life" (in the living things sense) and pro consciousness. While Mirka would argue against, say, genetic selection techniques on religious grounds (we should raise the children as God gave them to us), I was in the interesting position of suggesting how a balance could be struck between human agency and new technology. Do we *want* to choose our child's talents? If so, what does that say about why we want to have a child in the first place? Is it to have the opportunity to care for another human being, or simply to extend our own obsessions to another generation?

It all came down to "human nature" for Jeff Greenfield; you know, the idea that we can develop all sorts of technologies but human nature will stay the same, and use them for the same good and bad reasons. And that's when, for me, it became about the opposite: yes, human beings may have their biases, but so do the technologies we develop and implement. And we don't always know those biases when we set out to invent this stuff in the first place.
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