11-The Four Phases of Technology

The way I see it, technology has arrived so far in three phases.

The first two were mostly simultaneous:  technology to enhance our physical capabilities and technology to enhance our physical well being.  Enhancing our physical capabilities: everything from arrows to bridges to automobiles and rockets. Enhancing our physical well being : clothes, medicine, soap, medical devices.

The third one overlaps with these two, though most of it happened in the last 150 years or so:  technology to enhance our mental capacities.  Books were probably the first here, then the abacus and more recently calculators and computers.

Before mentioning what I believe can be the fourth phase, lets point out that many of the apparently man made problems of the last two centuries are not so much because of these technologies but the fact we are still not much different from how we were 3,000 years ago or just 1500 years ago.  If a person got mad 3000 years ago or more they could start throwing rocks and do a little damage.   1500 years ago they could swing a blade and do more damage.  In the last 100 years they could use automatic weapons and do even more damage.  Likewise wars went from killing hundreds to thousands to millions.  In any case its clear we still get mad but with much worse results.

So the fourth phase I believe could potentially be (as otherwise we will very likely go extinct ) technology to enhance our maturity (including both emotional and spiritual well being).  Strangely enough I think the very first example of this technology was the musical instrument and then the arts in general.   Newer aspects are apps that help with meditation, concentration.  Unlike medicines that only temporarily calm the mind (and later the mind is weakened without them), some of these can  help us build neural networks to make our brains behave more calmly or more focused.   I believe the next technology in this area would be social robots (like Pepper but not exactly) that  help guide and enhance behavior* **.

Ultimately I feel the “BoddhisatvaBot” would be an advanced  example of this technology.  The BoddhisatvaBot would not so much be artificial intelligence as artificial maturation (socially, spiritually and emotionally).   Like the Boddhisatvas, it wouldn’t just simply endow us with enlightenment but guide us.   In this way its much like a ruler guides us to draw straight lines.

Unlike the other technology groups which for the most part are enthusiastically welcomed by societies, 4th phase technologies are still not accepted so easily.  The electric guitar and synthesizer are still frowned on by many .   Like the other technologies though they do have their dangers (on the small scale: loud annoying electric guitars, on a much large scale they could unintentionally suppress valuable  human traits or overemphasize  others (fanatacism etc.).   But one of the rudimentary purposes of this blog is that these types of technologies are very much in need.  We could possibly go back become agrarian anarchists and scream at the sky when the world brings us misery or we could develop ways to use technology to manage and greatly diminish misery.  We could  worry each day that some angry person could kill us all or we could create technology so that anger is much better managed.  Grandiose perhaps? Treacherous, rife with dangerous pitfalls? Sure but again crucial if it can be done right somehow.

*Some may say that people are better off with another human to help with behavior and I have no argument there.  The problem is in many cases we dont always have a more mature human handy at all times to help with these things.  Parents and friends and family can help with some things but for someone with ptsd, schizophrenia, or just simply spiritual loss of any kind an extra tool maybe needed.

**By far the biggest danger here is clearly homogenization and too much control of the person/being/spirit.  A Clockwork Orange and Brave New World being all too clear depictions of this.  Besides the obvious fact these technologies should be developed slowly and cautiously, there is the fact they  should be guides only.  Just as no one ought to be forced to play the piano, no one should be forced to learn behaviors using these tools.



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