Reactionaries, mostly Luddites and romantic conservatives, wanted to destroy this new technological world and return to what appeared to them, at least, to be a more halcyon era. Idealists—including, ironically enough, both uncompromisingly free market capitalists and revolutionary communists—believed that the industrial technology would, if left to unfold according to its own logic, eventually create a utopian economy of infinite abundancy. And then there were the reformers and the realists—a broad combination of society, including responsible politicians on both the left and the right, businesspeople, workers, philanthropists, civil servants, trade unionists, and ordinary citizens—who focused on using human agency to fix the many problems created by this new technology. Today we can see similar responses of yes, no, or maybe to the question of whether the dramatic change swirling all around us is to our benefit. Romantics and xenophobes reject this globalizing technology as somehow offending the laws of nature, even of “humanity” itself (an overused and under-defined word in our digital age). Both Silicon Valley techno-utopians and some critics of neoliberalism insist that the digital revolution will, once and for all, solve all of society’s perennial problems and create a cornucopian postcapitalist future. For them, much of this change is inevitable—”The Inevitable”, according to one particularly evangelical determinist. And then there are the maybes, like myself—realists and reformers rather than utopians or dystopians—who recognize that today’s great challenge is to try to fix the problems of our great transformation without either demonizing or lionizing technology.

From How to Fix the Future by Andrew Keen.

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