Do We Need a Constitution of Information? (The Hankyoreh & Huffington Post) June 5, 2013

The recent scandal involving the surveillance of the Associated Press and Fox News by the United States Justice Department has focused attention on the erosion of privacy and freedom of speech in recent years. But before we simply attribute these events to the ethical failings of Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff, we also should consider the technological revolution powering this incident, and thousands like it. It would appear that bureaucrats simply are seduced by the ease with which information can be gathered and manipulated. At the rate that technologies for the collection and fabrication of information are evolving, what is now available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the United States, and around the world, will soon be available to individuals and small groups.

We must come to terms with the current information revolution and take the first steps to form global institutions that will assure that our society, and our governments, can continue to function through this chaotic and disconcerting period. The exponential increase in the power of computers will mean that changes the go far beyond the limits of slow-moving human government. We will need to build new institutions to the crisis that are substantial and long-term. It will not be a matter that can be solved by adding a new division to Homeland Security or Google.

We do not have any choice. To make light of the crisis means allowing shadowy organizations to usurp for themselves immense power through the collection and distortion of information. Failure to keep up with technological change in an institutional sense will mean that in the future government will be at best a symbolic façade of authority with little authority or capacity to respond to the threats of information manipulation. In the worst case scenario, corporations and government agencies could degenerate into warring factions, a new form of feudalism in which invisible forces use their control of information to wage murky wars for global domination. Continue Reading


“The Importance of the Humanities in an Age of Rapid Technological Change” talk at Research, Innovation, Start-up & Employment Conference

 

 

Research, Innovation, Start-up & Employment

International Conference

May 21, 2013

 

Hosted by

Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning

 

Emanuel Pastreich

Director

The Asia Institute

 

 

Keynote Address:

 

“The Importance of the Humanities in an Age of Rapid Technological Change”

 

Technological Change demands a Focus on the Humanities

 

             The unprecedented rate of technological change taking place today provides us with tremendous opportunities at the same time it poses tremendous risks. It is essential that policy makers and ordinary citizens grasp the implications of this transformation of human society brought about by the convergence of technologies, and ultimately by the increasing speed of microprocessors.

The response to rapid technological change will require of us a new focus on the traditional humanities. That means that fields such as literature, philosophy, art, history and above all esthetics will require new attention. We must understand how the very nature of human experience is being altered by technological change—but that change is taking place at a level that is essentially invisible to us because the very means by which we perceive are shifting.

For example, as we rely increasingly on postings on the internet for information, we need to think more deeply about how we read, how we interpret and how we respond to texts. The problem grows increasingly serious as we must process contradictory narratives and we often must make serious decisions with insufficient information concerning motive and intention. This problem requires us to consider how we read and understand texts and the study of literature is the best way to address this critical issue. Literature is the study of the meaning and significance of texts, about the process by which the producers of texts give them meaning and the readers interpret that meaning. A profound understanding of literature is an absolute necessity in this age.

`            We will need to consider what the standards are by which we determine what is true and untrue, what is essential and wh Continue Reading