The Technological Society

Author: Jacques Ellul
This Year Hacker News 2
This Month Hacker News 1


by pmoriarty   2017-09-04
"an interview on the Sam Harris podcast about all the different ways technology is persuading millions of people in ways they don’t see"

Tristan Harris is only mentioning some very recent manifestations and variations of a critique that has been around for a very long time.

The history of this critique is a complex and not easily summarized one,[1] but, to take just one example, in The Technological Society[2] Jacques Ellul[3] argued that it was the efficiency improvements in what Ellul called "technique" (which can be thought of as technology in a broader sense) were effectively irresistible and inevitable to society as a whole, as the adopters of less efficient techniques were inevitably out-competed by users of more efficient ones. For Ellul this was important because it meant the loss of humanity's freedom, as they are inevitably following where efficient technique leads them.

This was presaged by Heidegger[4] most famously in The Question Concerning Technology[5], and a whole field of Philosophy of Technology followed.[6]

A more recent and popular exploration of technology's influence can be found in the documentaries of Adam Curtis.[7]

[1] - For one easily accessible but analytically-flavored attempt at a summary, see:

[3] -

[6] -

[7] -

by Drumlin   2017-08-19
I suggest you read 'The Technological Society' by Jacques Ellul. It's not an easy read, the sort of book where you take lots of notes and then learn from the notes:

Recent generations have been conditioned by society to accept globalisation - amongst other things. The book, which I only recently read myself, describes what has been happening for hundreds of years and it's to do with progress - technical progress, of which technology is just the pinnacle.

Those people who were against globalisation on the left were the old guard, the people who were strong supporters of trade unions and were proud of their local communities. Sanders is an example in the US, Corbyn or Skinner are examples in the UK.