Monday, July 13, 2020

David and Goliat


I restate our right (and I would say that, as educators, a duty) to ask ourselves and be able to decide on the type of society, the type of world, the type of planet that we would like to contribute to developing. Which implies deciding the direction of technological developments.

I began my collaboration with El Diario de la Educación with a column titled The Parliament of Things. Actually, I thought that title more like an umbrella for this space of opinion. Because from a critical perspective of technology, like my inspirational Andrew Feenberg, I consider that the development of technology (not only digital) “is not a destination, but a battlefield, a parliament of things in which they decide alternatives to civilization. "

In repeated writings and public presentations, I have argued the need and importance of not leaving our destiny in the hands of the technological maelstrom, driven by the interests of large corporations, dominated by a discourse that suggests that the only possible way is to the dating, algorithmization, and conversion of the vast majority of human beings into consumers of their products. And, once again, I restate our right (and I would say that, as educators, a duty) to ask ourselves and be able to decide on the type of society, the type of world, the type of planet that we would like to contribute to developing. Which implies deciding the direction of technological developments.

This time the reason is given to me by two highly topical events that, without apparent connection, are deeply interconnected. I am referring to the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress, which was to take place in Barcelona from February 24 to 27, due to a microscopic being, the so-called coronavirus, which seems to spread without ceasing. This macro-event focused on digital technology, which has been held in Barcelona since 2008 and went from 55,000 participants on that date to 109,000 in 2019, brings together both the most powerful and emerging companies and raises great expectations about the most diverse gadgets applications, which always promise that they will change us and definitely improve our lives. That we will "increase" reality, that we will "communicate" better, that we can operate remotely ... There are also constantly broken promises for education.

But we continue with increasingly complex "realities". Inequality, migrations due to war, violence and poverty, consequences of the so-called climate change, a systematic increase in pollution and destruction of the environment, lack of drinking water, basic health services and education for 10% of the population (according to the World Bank ), increased disenchantment among young people, who increasingly drop out of school early. Looking at this “reality”, it is not surprising that many prefer the “augmented”, the “virtual” and the “gamified”. And that the more than billionaire owner of Amazón, Jeff Bezos (with more than 150,000 million dollars and earnings of 231,000 dollars per minute - according to the weekly Times) Invest $ 1 billion a year in his Blue Origin project to create the new generation of reusable rockets, perhaps to leave Earth, badly abused by him or other tycoons, as soon as possible.

But all those technological worlds, that Goliath, were put on hold in Barcelona, ​​by an invisible being, by a David, called the Conoravirus. A virus that does not know of the rich and poor, although they are always the most unprotected. That nobody knows where and how it was generated, much less how it manages to spread in such a fast and deadly way. Every day he achieves a new “achievement”: in addition to the sick and deceased, seclusions, mobility bans, and cancellation of different events. It even seems that the Tokyo Olympics are in danger.

And here I began to anchor this reflection, in the garbage we generate, in the unhealthy conditions in which millions of people live, in animal abuse (one of the hypotheses is that it started from the seafood market in Wuhan, China). A reflection that leads me, once again, to argue the need for technological development thinking of all humanity and its well-being. To think about the problems of living beings in their complexity and context, to demand that research focus on the problems of "all" humanity and not those perceived by those who least suffer them. To claim that the development of each technological application is accompanied by a forecast of its undesired long-term consequences. In short, to paraphrase Edgard Morin, to promote "technology with a conscience" at all levels of society. Is there something more educational?

No comments:

Post a Comment