Advancing Technology & Aging Democracy
23 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 9, 2012
In 1964, Marshall McLuhan wrote, Understanding Media: The Extension of Man. After quoting General David Sarnoff for the view that too often people “make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them,” McLuhan rejects this view, or at least does not fully embrace it. Instead, McLuhan posits that the increased scale of technology affects us in ways that too often go unnoticed. McLuhan raises the Psalmist warning that “we become what we behold.” If society does not pay attention to the ways that advancing technology affects the human individual and culture, then this “somnambulism” could result in unintended and undesirable consequences for humanity. In other words, the implications of advancing technology for democracy are filled with both threats and opportunities for societal and individual improvement. It is up to us to decide the acceptable uses of technology in our lives and society.
And, so the question ought to be asked: What are the implications of an aging democracy confronted with technology that is advancing with greater speed than any other time in history? Are twenty-first century Americans up to the challenge to reflect upon and confront the implications of rapidly advancing technology on our ancestors’ eighteenth century grand experiment of democracy? Or will we, as citizens of a self-governing society, sleep at the wheel and go so far down the road before we realize what freedoms we have lost due to uses of technology that have detrimental effects on individual liberty and the ability of humans to organize social structures in a more egalitarian and person-oriented design?
Keywords: Cyberlaw, Electoral Reform, Net Neutrality, Consent Theory, Privacy, State Action Doctrine
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