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The False Promises of the Digital Revolution

How Computers transform Education, Work, and International Development in Ways that are Ecologically Unsustainable

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C.A Bowers

The False Promises of the Digital Revolution examines what currently goes largely unnoticed because of the many important uses of digital technologies. While many people interpret digital technologies as accelerating the global rate of progress, C. A. Bowers focuses attention on how they reinforce the deep and ecologically problematic cultural assumptions of the West: the myth of progress, the substitution of data for different cultural traditions of wisdom, the connections between print and abstract thinking, the myth of individual autonomy, the conduit view of language that hides how words (metaphors) reproduce earlier misconceptions, and a Social Darwinian justification for colonizing other cultures that is now leading to armed resistance – which, in turn, strengthens the ties between corporations, the military, and the computer science industry. The book also investigates how to understand the cultural non-neutrality of digital technologies; how print and the emphasis on data undermine awareness of the tacit information pathways between cultural and natural ecologies; and how to identify educational reforms that will contribute to a more informed public about the uses of digital technologies.
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Chapter 5: How the Digital Revolution Contributes to the Colonization of Other Cultures and Increases the Threat of Terrorism

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Chapter 5

How the Digital Revolution Contributes to the Colonization of Other Cultures and Increases the Threat of Terrorism

The spread of surveillance technologies intended to deter terrorists who are reacting to Western efforts to colonize their cultures is extracting a huge cost, both in terms of resources that might be used for more socially constructive ends and in the loss of our privacy. The alliance between computer scientists using these new surveillance technologies, the number of security agencies experiencing huge gains in the their budgets, and the military, politicians, and corporations in the forefront of the efforts to colonize non-Western cultures, have created a climate of opinion that has shut off the possibility of asking whether our foreign policies and long tradition of colonizing other cultures might be partly responsible for the current distortion in our national priorities. Before giving closer attention to the ways in which we may be complicit in creating the friend/enemy politics we are now defending ourselves against, it is first necessary to obtain a clearer picture of the financial burden that over 50 percent of the public is willing to pay for the loss of the rights to privacy, and for putting the country on the slippery political slope of becoming a police state.

The price of surrendering personal privacy, and accepting a new level of technological intrusion that can only have huge implications for undermining what remains of our civil liberties, is in the...

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