The great question today isn’t whether things can be programmed or not — but what we will program them to do. Will we program the world around us to improve everyone’s quality of life? Or will we instruct merely to enrich a tiny number of people — at the cost even of their quality of life? That is the essential distinction between a redefined high and low tech: what we program the new world around us to do. These are two poles of a spectrum. Perhaps the truth, as ever, lies somewhere in between. And yet, we must struggle to make the better choice.
So. Who’s right — the utopians, or the dystopians? This will be the last in a series of essays I’ve recently written about redefining human ingenuity. I suggest that we redefine the idea of high versus low tech: high tech is that which improves quality of life, and low tech that causes it to stagnate or decline.