This brings him to the phenomenon that he observes in current history of technology in this 1969 interview. He is not opposed to technology but sees in technology a creative element that can manufacture the human being. Because technology, by its nature, is about building and manufacturing, humanity will eventually have the capacity to build and manufacture itself. Thus, the human being eventually finds themselves as the slave of technology in a literal sense even though, this very technology, is created by human beings. The human being is not free, but is instead enslaved to the very creating of their techne.
He argues that philosophy has historically been able to think through the problem and distinctions between, for example, being and human – distinct but not different. He sees with technology the rise of “the event” also interestingly referred to as the singularity. Technology becomes less of an instrument and more of an end to which we aspire. But what is technology? It is an instrument - something done by someone who controls it. But who decides what the use of technology is?
The current pandemic is something completely and totally new. This is a phenomenon that can have no direct comparison. Mass media, social media, science, technology, politics, are converging and it will be interesting to see what consensus, if any, in terms of shared life emerges. And if it does what is that new consensus? Does it mean that working from home is the new normal? That, in fact, social relations will be mediated online in the digital as opposed to physical space. What is it going to mean to be human? To be a free agent? To be in community?
I don’t expect that we will have the answers but philosophers, sages, and other knowledge keepers should not be absent from the conversation. They can help us “enframe” the issues properly, carefully, and with linguistic and conceptual clarity.
But, he laments, if shared language and shared philosophy dies away, how will we communicate, and debate these ideas in the world? Are we destined for endless flame wars on the internet? The same tribal wars between so called left and right?