Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on Technologies that Limit our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency and Freedom

Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on Technologies that Limit our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency and Freedom

by Dmitry Orlov


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Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on Technologies that Limit our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency and Freedom by Dmitry Orlov

Over the past two centuries we have witnessed a wholesale replacement of most of the previous methods of conducting both business and daily life with new, technologically advanced, more efficient methods.

What exactly is progressive or efficient about this new arrangement is hardly ever examined in depth: if the new ways of doing things are so much better, then we must all be leading relaxed, stress-free, enjoyable lives with plenty of free time to devote to art and leisure activities. But a more careful look at these changes shows us that many of these advances are not weighing favourably in a harm/benefit comparison. The harm to the environment, society, and even to our own personalities, on an individual level, is plain to see, but is brushed off with hollow claims about efficiency and progress.

Shrinking the Technosphere guides readers through the process of bringing technology down to a manageable number of carefully chosen, essential, well-understood and controllable elements. It is about regaining the freedom to use technology for our own benefit, and is critical reading for all who seek to get back to a point where technologies assist us rather than control us.

Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad, USSR, and emigrated to the United States in the mid-1970s. He holds degrees in Computer Engineering and Linguistics, and has worked in a variety of fields, including high-energy physics, Internet commerce, network security and advertising. He is the author of several previous books, including Reinventing Collapse and The Five Stages of Collapse .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865718388
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Publication date: 12/27/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Techndsphere Defined 8

Its hapless denizens 8

Pity the biosphere! 10

In the beginning… 11

It evolves! 12

It overcomes its natural limits 14

Conquest of nature 15

It wants to control absolutely everything 18

It wants to technologize everything 19

It wants to put a monetary value on everything 20

It demands homogeneity 22

It wants to dominate the biosphere 25

It controls you for its own purposes 28

It demands blind faith in progress 29

Its only alternative to infinite progress is the apocalypse 34

It always creates more problems than it can solve 35

Why it will fail 41

"They will come up with something!" 42

But must we fail with it? 47

What would its success look like? 48

The Anti-Gaia Hypothesis 50

2 What is at Stake? 55

Just how bad is it likely to get? 55

Remembering who we are 58

What should we consider normal? 59

A problem of shared values 64

Why act now? 73

3 Approaches and Departures 80

Jacques Ellul 81

Ted Kaczynski 86

4 Harm/Benefit Analysis 97

Calculating the harm/benefit ratio 99

Anti-technology technologies 101

Mandatory technologies 103

Personal standards 106

Powerful technologies-weak humans 107

Unlimited harm potential 111

Nuclear power industry 112

Genetic engineering 112

Nanotechnolagy 115

The harm/benefit hierarchy 116

Cost-benefit analysis 118

Technologies that should be disallowed 118

Technologies that may be allowed 120

Zero-harm technologies 123

The dangers of nonexistent technology 123

Relative harm 124

5 Naturelike Technologies 126

The germ of an idea 126

Village life 131

Wilderness as a state of mind 134

Bringing back the village 134

A good way to inhabit the landscape 137

The house 137

The stove 139

The sauna 140

Time for a change of venue? 141

Extreme homesteading 144

Life on the move 154

6 Political Technologies 159

Beyond good and evil 160

Political technologies in the US 161

The fossil fuel lobby 161

The arms manufacturers 162

The two-party political system 163

Defense contractors and the national defense establishment 164

The medical industry 165

The higher education industry 165

The prison-industrial complex 165

The automotive industry 166

The agribusiness industry 166

The financial industry 166

Organized religion 166

The legal system 167

American political technologies abroad 168

International Loan Sharking 169

The Color Revolution Syndicate 171

Terrorism by Proxy 176

A requiem 177

Beneficial uses of political technologies 177

The importance of patriotic leadership 178

The need for partisans 180

The making of a partisan 184

Partisans of the biosphere? 186

7 Social Machines 189

Part-human, part-machine 191

A playground for psychopaths 193

It's robopaths all the way down 195

Countermeasures 197

8 Wresting Control 202

The iron triangle 203

Distracting ourselves 205

Problems of scale 210

Lifehacks 214

Boats 216

Tiny houses 218

Free data 219

Free-range children 221

9 The Great Transition 225

Long-term risks 232

Short-term risks 236

Stepping outside of yourself 240

Rites of passage 241

Afterword 245

Index 246

About the Author 253

A Note About the Publisher 254

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