Q & A with Douglas Rushkoff on taking control of our tech

Following last week’s excerpt of Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for the Digital Age, we follow with a Q&A with the author, featuring questions from Shareable’s community of contributors and advisors. On Wednesday, October 13 and Thursday, October 14, we invite our wider community of readers to engage with Rushkoff in the comments, as he responds to your questions and thoughts.

Shareable magazine has asked various members of its board of advisers to ask questions to Douglas Rushkoff, related to his new book.

The full collective interview is also reproduced here.

Here’s my question, and his reply, excerpted:

Michel Bauwens: If we indeed take control of our technology, how do you see the balance between individual control, relationships between peers, and the power of any new collectives that may arise in this networked world? Do you see the balance between individuality and collectivity changing?

Rushkoff: Well, if we take control of our tech, as you put it, then we get to decide how that dynamic changes. I don’t think we get to fully take charge of it, though. I think we get to partner with it, and with our various biological and evolutionary imperatives. I feel like the best we can hope for is conscious participation in all this.

There is almost certainly an evolutionary drive toward increasing complexity in the face of entropy. That’s practically a definition of life. Technology is so powerful and attractive to us because it holds the promise of greater complexity and greater connectedness. Atoms to molecules to cells to organelles to organisms. What’s next? No one knows for sure, but it sure ain’t Facebook.

I have been saying from the beginning—the early ’90s anyway—that we are looking at collective organism. But unlike some kind of fascist Borg, we don’t have to lose our individuality. It is actually enhanced as more people become aware of everyone else. Not a hive, but more of a coral reef.

Some of these rather invasive technologies are really just preparation for a world where everyone will know what you are thinking anyway.”

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