The idea of a neutral technology really stuck out to me this week. Specifically, how you define a technology as neutral. When Jason was saying that some technologies are more neutral than others, I agreed. But then, Adrian questioned him on the parameters of making something ‘neutral’, and I found myself confused (again).
When I started thinking about it, I found the old argument “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” popped into my head (this won’t shock anyone who knows me, I have pretty clear opinions on gun control in the US; in other words, there needs to be a LOT more of it. But we won’t go into that right now).
So obviously, some technologies are more inherently dangerous than others. Guns are more dangerous in themselves than the internet is, in the sense that, as Jason said, one has the potential to be more neutral than the other. In other words, I can pick up a gun with the intention of doing essentially one thing, whereas I can hop on the internet with the intention of Googling images of puppies, or to steal someones identity, or hack into the NSA. So while the internet is capable of being on either end of a neutrality scale, a gun is not.
So how DO we define technology as neutral? My conclusion after the symposium, and after working out my thoughts in this post, is that there is no such thing as a neutral technology. However, I think there is a scale to put them on, to evaluate their potential dangers or benefits.