Progress 4

What I have described as progress so far bares little relationship to what is normally considered progress. This is because my benchmark is zen, awakening or “enlightenment”, and I used the three characteristics of anatta, anicca and dukkha for more detail. I have referred to this as absolute progress.

For most consideration of progress it is relative that is usually considered, Pirsig considered this. This type of progress is a self-fulfilling process. Society or fashion dictates what people see as important, people accept this, embrace it, pay for it and it then becomes recognised as progress. By all objective measures the technology in my lifetime, the last 50 years, has made progress. At school and university I was using a calculator where I turned a handle, or I used a slide rule; at university I was beginning to program using punched cards, and the internet started when I was in my 40s. From this point of view this morning I am typing on the computer having done a search on ear muffs, and updating my apps on the smartphone. Technology has completely changed life, begrudgingly I say for the better. These technologies have become communication devices. When I grew up I am not sure there was a phone in the house, I was not phoning friends socially. If I wanted to talk to them I went round their house, and maybe they weren’t in. In terms of the use of time technology is much more efficient, in terms of quality of contact much has been lost. As far as I am aware as I just touch on these areas, young people relate to each other through smartphones and software technologies such as Line, facebook, instagram, tumblr, reddit, blogs and so on. I believe such technologies can be used with depth, I don’t really know how they are used by the young but my feeling is that depth is not a criterion. I am at a loss to assess it, yet this is fundamentally what thoughts on social progress has to be about. Social progress is concerned with our relationship to technological gadgets.

Where technological progress has made advances is in business. It has changed the office, the production line, and most jobs require some computer interface. This is a long way from my mother’s office of typewriters, phones and fax. As a teacher I was always playing catch-up with technology, even though for most of the time in the institutions I worked in my computer competence was often in the forefront. The reason for the catch-up quite simply was cost, to keep contemporary with computer advances was never possible based on the budget. I think this is true now. However because teachers own their own computers, own smartphones, and pay for their own internet access computer usage is much more contemporaneous, but there is still the historical problem – teachers have not been a part of the world of work. Investment in technology has led to increased profits – the intention of the investment.

How has this technology affected people? Can it be said that people have progressed?

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