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19 Avril 2021 , Rédigé par Laurent Vivès Publié dans #CIVILISATION




Laurent Vivès - Former Hospital Practitioner - Internist - Oncologist
Translation : Jean René Gougelet -Reading time : 30'


According to Raphaël Llorca, expert for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, there is today a serious crisis of confidence in progress and technologies. Only 5% of French people would live in the future if they had the choice against 65% who would decide to live in the past (1) .

Why is rapid technological progress associated with fear of the future? Is this type of progress adapted to the expectations of humanity? Have we sufficiently questioned the place and role of technology in our modern societies? Doesn't its omnipresence and imperiousness end up worrying people and depriving them of other unfulfilled hidden desires?   

Yet technology is not the devil, although part of modern thought tends to demonize it. What would our life be if it had never existed? Let's try to imagine our daily life without it? We have been using it for all the acts of the day for a long time. Ancestral tools like a polished stone, an arrow, a container were already techniques. 


 1 - What is technology? 

In original meaning it is the study and teaching of techniques. Technique (from the Greek téchne - art or know-how) is a set of means and processes to achieve an end. Among these means: skill, tools, machines, methods and processes. There are multitudes of techniques: gestural, instrumental, artisanal, artistic, industrial etc.... Animals and plants, too, have many techniques.  

The remains of the first cut stones date back 2.3 million years. It was not until 1829 that Jacob Bigelow, professor at Harvard, institutionalize the term “technology” which will lead to the creation of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) world temple of the discipline. Industrialization and all modern applications will follow.  

Technology studies and uses techniques, puts them in synergy, combines them. The technique is more crude and empirical. Technology is more modern, more related to science and more complex than technique.


2 - From the revolution, then from industrial civilization, to the current prowess of technology

The first industrial revolution would be from the 19th century (it was based on coal, metallurgy, textiles and the steam engine). The second (after the crisis of 1929) was based on electricity, mechanics, petroleum and chemistry. The industrialization, mechanization, productivism had already triggered warnings, such as in the book "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley in 1932, and the film "Modern Times" by Charlie Chaplin in 1936.        

In 1993, the US Federal Government issued the following recommendations: “The United States should focus on technologies for which companies have the ability to convert them into a marketable product, to contribute to the continued success of our industries on global markets " (2) . Since then, China and South East Asia have been on a level playing field, even surpassing the Western world in this area. Technology is no longer at the service of the common good but of profitability. From a means of adaptation of man to his environment, it becomes an economic and commercial stake.  

There are now several kinds of technologies: “High tech”, “Bio tech”, “Green tech”, techno-science that no longer apply only to tools and machines. From the technical we now have moved to the organizational, to the strategic, to the concepts, and to the “virtual”. Astrophysics, medicine, genetics, nanotechnology, quantum and artificial intelligence are at the forefront. The converging techniques projects of NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biology, Information and Cognition) foreshadow a world in full transformation and with uncertain outcome.         

This already worried Dominique Janicaud in 1991: “in a short period of time, science and technology have transformed our planet to the point of upsetting immemorial ecological and ethnological balances, and making man doubt the meaning of his existence, up to making his own identity waver"  


3 - What is the place of technology in our world ? 


A knife is a kitchen ustensil, it is also a criminal weapon. A bulldozer is used for earthworks and road construction, it is also used to deforest the Amazon. Internet offers us daily services, the access to knowledge and culture, it helps science. It also conveys hatred, racism, lies and manipulation. Technology can give us the best and the worst, depending on why and how we use it. Now it has supplanted technique.

Thus the car is a technique for moving on a road. With technology it has become a pleasure, a hobby, a luxury item, a myth. Science is little contribution in this development, and technological sophistications whose car is supposed to benefit are of little use to its proper use.

For about 10 years, technology, via smartphones, has ruled our daily life: communicate, exchange, organize, get to know, travel, buy, care, manufacture, manage, work. All of these activities, and many more, are "techno-dependent". Our environment is techno-mediated: home automation, connectivity, robotics, telematics are becoming commonplace. Screens are everywhere. More than 3/4 of humanity is affected by technical progress. Thanks to satellites the world is shrinking, information circulates quickly and everywhere. Popular movements use social networks to organize, defend their demands, fight against the oppressors. Others use it to lie, deceive and hate. The technology is global, transgenerational, and creates a new paradigm in the lives of humans. 

It is omnipresent and becomes more and more complex, requiring the use of innumerable intricate and interdependent resources, grouped together within sectors and networks, of which digital computing is the most successful form with its almost infinite ramifications. We are talking about a "digital revolution".

In terms of technology, nothing can stop progress, it feeds on itself, even if we do not really know what it is for. It is indisputable, inescapable, inexorable. It confirms it: “The most efficient methods resulting from one step of evolutionary progress, are used to create the next step”: Raymond Kurzweil, Professor at MIT, holder of the American Technology Prize. He is described as an "ultimate brain machine" in Forbes and as "a true genius" in the Wall Street Journal. He is director of engineering at Google. Futurologist, innovator, he is involved in artificial intelligence, transhumanism, nanotechnologies and nano-robots...      

The growth of technical advances is exponential. We don't know where we're going, or how far. This is confirmed by the illusion of electric cars, which have a carbon footprint equivalent to thermals and whose manufacture requires large quantities of rare metals (including copper and lithium). They need electricity produced with coal or oil. It is a planetary thermodynamic failure of “Green Technology” and a politico-industrial hoax.  

The worst is possible with nuclear power, the chemical industry, genetic manipulation, ecological disaster, “bigdata”, artificial intelligence, the loss of wisdom, even of reason. Exalted geniuses like Kurzweil, GAFAM, an insatiable public of its dear technology, industrial lobbies more concerned with immediate profit than the common good, weak ethics and a lack of global regulation, constitute a cocktail more conducive to endangerment of our world, than its development.  

In March 2020, Ryan Khurana, a young and brilliant advocate for technological innovation, finally said: “It may very well be that our technological potential is so advanced that realizing it would cause more harm than good“(3 ).  

Right now, thanks to the prowess of technology, we have vaccines against Covid-19. Europe is tightening its ties and there is a global thrill for ecology. We are looking for ways to reduce CO2, but for now, reforestation, the frugality of our lifestyles and a decrease in overpopulation seem to be the best means.

4 - Technology, civilization, philosophy, rationality, culture and collective intelligence


4a - Civilization

Apart from a few primitive or distant ethnic groups, all regions of the world are impacted by modern technology. It is the first stake of power. Civilizations will become uniform through it. Technology improves the comfort of our daily life, the quality of medical care, safety, hygiene, communication, transport, access to knowledge, etc.... It has links with artistic creation. It is also a culture, especially for young people. It has a heavy impact on the lifestyles, the ways of thinking, of behaving and the functioning of our societies. It is the main mark of our civilizations, which adapt very well to it. 

Technological” lifestyles are more and more expensive and restrictive: energy consumption, daily complexity (learning new techniques, dehumanization, automatons), cognitive subjugation to machines and screens, capture of discernment and fatigue, destruction of jobs .   

Technology accentuates inequalities by selecting those who know how to use it, appropriate it and enrich themselves with it, and by abandoning the weakest that it surpasses or frightens.

In his book "The Cognitive Apocalypse" (4) Gérald Bronner shows that the time freed up thanks to technological progress has not been used for cerebral development, due to the overabundance of the informative and cognitive offer, attracting the mind towards fear, sensationalism, games, sexuality, conflictuality… Daydreaming, slow thinking, reason and wisdom wither away. The proliferation of unregulated, unverifiable, aggressive and dishonest sources of information leads Gérald Bronner to say that “total deregulation seems to me to deprive us of our freedoms much more than reasonable regulation ... and in this sense, I feel rationalist for I believe that reason must now be defended as a common good in public debate”.    


4b - Philosophy

A general review of the question “Philosophy and technology" was updated in 10.2020 in "Encyclopedia of Philosophy" (5). Philosophers have expressed themselves on the technique since the 19th century, not sympathetically initially, with a suspicion of shrinking human thought and antagonism towards art and culture. In the 20th century, Martin Heidegger (1953), Herbert Marcuse (1964), Hans Jonas (1966), Jacques Ellul (1977), addressed the relationship between technology and life, nature, society and human development. .    

Eric Pommier returns to the meaning of life according to Jonas (6). The living is organized by exchanging with the outside a material which it assimilates and which allows it to build its environment and to renew itself. Rainer Maria Rilke stated that beside the little death that strikes us from the outside, it is a great death that everyone carries in itself, is at the center of everything. Death would therefore not be the entirely exterior negation of life, but it is its condition. “It is so as not to die that the living is deployed. This fragility of living existence is the condition for the emergence of all meaning”

By affirming the coincidence of the world and of life, Hans Jonas (7) revalorizes animal life, and vegetality, without harming the humanity of man. The escape from death is not only a struggle to survive, but to live, according to what we are. Man repelsfends off death thanks to technique and his know-how. But he also wants to live to exercise all his intelligence and skill. There is therefore a vital constitutional link between man and his technique.

From 1990 to present day, many other philosophers have failed to clearly state what technology is, or to assess its effects on our lives, or to design institutions that could allow democratic control of its role, according to appropriate ethics.

Jacques Séris, quoted by Jacques Bouveresse in 2004 (8), deplores the weakness of philosophers to analyze the relations of philosophy with science. He disagrees with Heidegger concerning his ontological approach to technique, with an ethereal, non-dialectical thought. Heidegger proclaims that “technology is in its essence something that man cannot control". Séris believes in progress and in the contribution of technology.  

In 2008, Eric Chevet (professor of philosophy) was already asking the question: "by reducing human progress to technical progress alone, is it not forgetting the other essential values ​​which make up the greatness of a civilization?”. Indeed, it can also be valued through its culture and its ethical capacity to set objectives respectful of the human person and the planet (9).    

In 2013, Stéphane Vial published his thesis “The structure of the digital revolution: philosophy of technology(10). This remarkable work goes against the grain of many of the above points and ideas. He denounces the unfounded acrimony of technophobes like Ellul, Marcuse and Heidegger, and more generally of philosophy since the end of the 20th century, incapable of renewing itself and missing encounter with the digital revolution, to the advantage of brilliant computer scientists and philosophers like Philippe Quéau, Steve Jobs and Jeffrey Ullman. He revisits the notion of being, as a counterpoint to substantialist ontological conceptions, and develops the notion of phenomenological “ontophany” (the appearance of being), where being (falsely deemed virtual) exists as an appearance brought to life by the effect produced on the observer-user. This conception applied to the digital revolution creates a new human-technical paradigm by constant interactions, sources of remodeling of thought, affects, and perhaps of the identity of man.    

In a simpler way, Michel Puech (11) tells us that Sapiens (the wise man) is also "homo-technologicus", entangled with his technology with dazzling advances, which leads the author to want to put wisdom back at the center of relations between man and technology. He considers that “technology is not an external factor that must be domesticated. It is a part of our humanity, that we need to understand, construe, and situate within our choices of values ​​and of  future”. Thus, individual, daily, pugnacious micro-behaviors, with stubborn personal efforts can help us in this endeavor.

Bernard Stiegler seems to us to have a more complete philosophical vision by putting in perspective technique and technology. For him, Greek philosophy leaves the question of technique behind by distinguishing itself from Technè, this “outside" which is supposed to contribute nothing to knowledge, to Episteme. Indeed, any thought of technique exceeds the limits of philosophy. In “Technique and Time” (12) he says that technique is not external but constitutive to man. This is the reason why man has essence only by accident, he is this living thing which has qualities only by an original addition of artificiality. Its essence is made up of artifacts. All his knowledge and know-how are linked to techniques. Stiegler uses the myth of Epimetheus as a symbolic image of an incomplete man without essence, whose original defect always makes him perfectible, and links his future to his technique. Techniques, artifacts, artefacts, just like the arts, are therefore essential to human life. However any technical object is pharmacological, both poison and remedy, and thus technology is the bearer of the worst as well as the best. Its industrial use, subject to the market, consumerism and liberalism, becomes an end into itself, far from its primary utility and would lead to an impoverishment of the mind...     

Finally, we can wonder about the importance of the loss of meaning and visibility of a final goal (Telos), which goes hand in hand with the decline of religion in the Western world. The acceleration of the modern pace of life places individuals in an imperative immediacy, a permanent race against time, which no longer leaves room for distance and reflection. Overwhelmed by doing, hyper-informed, stressed and anxious competitor, Sapiens has no other alternative than the technological injunction, the justification for which it ignores. From an initial adaptive solution, technology becomes a dangerous and uncontrollable necessity.


4c - Rationality

Rationality is movement by reasoning, towards what is reasonable, then rational. This concept was valued by Descartes and 18th century thinkers, in opposition to beliefs and obscurantism. Rationality suits the scientific method. Adam Smith imported it into economics to optimize the pursuit of profits and the expansion of capitalism. It has become omnipresent, Max Weber denounces it through the rationalism of practical action, which ends up leading to “disenchantment with the world”. At the beginning of the 20th century in the West, the universe and God do split, physical phenomena are devoid ofmeanin, beliefs disappear.  

In 1941, Herbert Marcuse was one of the first to examine the technological rationality, and in 1964, he postulates that “the rational decision to incorporate technological advances in society can, once the technology is ubiquitous, change what is considered rational in this society ". He later confirmed (13) that “the notion of docile efficiency perfectly illustrates the technological rationality structure. Rational thought is transformed into a force for adjustment and conformity”.

This was developed by Serge Latouche in 1998 (14), who reminds us that social organization is the most extraordinary machine built by man, in which he becomes the cog of a complex mechanism reaching almost absolute power : a mega -machine, which has no other purpose than to develop by the action of its human cogs. Nowadays techno-sciences do dominate, with the emancipation of the rational which leads to an unleashing of the techno-economic, leading to the collapse of the political. Expertise replaces citizenship. Technocracy is an insidious substitute for democracy.

In 2010, the American technical philosopher Andrew Feenberg published in an MIT collection “Between reason and experience: essays in technology and modernity”(15). He notes the weight of technology on democratic life through “technological determinism” which leads societies to change culture and values ​​and adapt to technological imperatives. This determinism is universal, it tends towards planetary homogeneity. But Feenberg also emphasizes the “flexibility of technology”, which is able to adapt and transform according to the expectations and choices of humans. Technology would be a place of social struggle, a "parliament of things", on which the alternatives of civilization are played out. Thus, social significance and functional rationality are inextricably linked dimensions of technology. They are not ontologically distinct, but are two aspects of a technical object, each of which can be revealed in a particular context. Feenberg argues for a democratic rationalization of technology and concludes: “Rationalization in our society responds to a definition of technology as a means of profit and power. A broader understanding of technology suggests a very different notion of rationalization, based on the responsibility of technology towards human and natural contexts”

4d - Culture and collective intelligence

Joseph Henrich (16 - 17) offers an unprecedented interpretation of the process of adaptation and development of the human being since prehistoric times, based on the notion of culture (sum of accumulated knowledge) and collective intelligence. The human brain has basic capacities comparable to that of a chimpanzee, except for social relations where it greatly exceeds it. It is therefore the collective brain that is the real strength of man. It is the fruit of social life, imitation, and culture (including technique) which provides methods and cognitive skills. The larger and more structured the group, the more collective intelligence benefits. In the long run, genetic changes induced by cultural development (genes-culture co-evolution) have been observed. Social organization, culture and technique are therefore intertwined and synergistic.

Between 1992 and 1995, maps of the human genome established by French researchers from the Généthon laboratory were published free of charge. It was a great step forward towards the sharing of knowledge and a great human adventure.

Collective intelligence is amplified by the internet, international university exchanges and brain mobility. Despite competition between countries and large universities, we are witnessing a globalization of research and the sharing of scientific information. In medicine, the complexity of the knowledge and techniques used, the multiplication and specialization of research activities, now require “translational research" between multiple teams working in centers, sometimes very distant, which pool all their technical resources, strategic and intellectual. 

All these sharing and collaborations are engines and constitute one of the reasons for hoping for more global human progress than that provided by technology alone.


5 - Artificial intelligence, trans-humanism, singularity, deregulation, unreason: what prospects for technological civilization?  


5a - Artificial intelligence: 

It is already there, with its big data, its algorithms, machine-learning, self-programming. There are visual recognition, sounds, language, and emotions. Expert systems are able to interpret imagery, pathology, drive cars, trucks, planes, compose symphonies, beat humans at all games, solve complex problems and to model the future. In China, it results in a citizen's passport with points linked to individual behavior. In the US, it is sensitive information about each of us that is collected and marketed. All our facts and actions are listed.

Dr Loïc Etienne ( 18 ) in "The sorcerers of the future" describes and futurizes the role of artificial intelligence in medicine : observation of patients (interviewed and examined by robots), development of diagnoses (imaging, biology, histology), robotic surgery, personalized medications, organ transplants printed with our own cells ... A staggering technology in which the doctor-patient relationship risks being diluted and where it will be necessary to fight against unethical wizards and patients ready to accept everything in order to be cured and / or become "immortal". Loïc Etienne invites us not to be afraid of this new world. I must say that reading it, the old humanist clinician that I am, had shivers down my spine. Especially in the last chapter when it evokes biological computers using the infinite complexity of living things.       

In October 2019, Kate Crawford (American researcher specializing in the social implications of technical systems, Big Data and algorithms), gave a conference in Paris: “biases have become the raw material of Artificial Intelligence (AI)”. She warns against too positive an extrapolation of the reliability of AI, and emphasizes the social, political and even technical implications of its uses. Facial recognition systems, police investigation assistance and job interview systems are imprecise or biased. Some were withdrawn because they were poorly configured or came from inefficient databases. Autonomous cars are not yet fully developed. The interpretation of radiological images remains uncertain and AI is of little use in general practice. Kate Crawford stresses the need to involve citizens in the assessment of AI, especially in sensitive areas like medicine, security and inequality.  

The concentration of AI techniques and resources in the sole hands of GAFAM (Google, Appel, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) which are also regulators of Big-data and of gigantic wealth, is a real source of concern. Because, they combine the power of money and information and embark on uncertain projects, putting the future of humanity at stake.


5b - Transhumanism: 

In Antiquity, man dreamed of immortality with the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Fountain of Youth. Transhumanism is inspired by the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. He wants to be of humanist inspiration but aspires to transform the human being towards post humanism. From a beatnik, cyberpunk current of thought, Max More will lay the foundations of transhumanism around the improvement of the human body by technical processes. Scientists, philosophers, computer scientists will join him, now organized and grouped into several institutions including the World Transhumanist Association which begins its manifesto published in 1999:“The future of humanity will be radically transformed by technology. The human being will be able to undergo modifications, such as its rejuvenation, the increase of its intelligence by biological or artificial means, the capacity to modulate its own psychological state, the abolition of the suffering and the exploration of the universe.”    

Here are the perspectives of transhumanism according to this association : Anti-aging, bionic prostheses, brain-computer interfaces, selective conception of babies, genetic manipulation and cloning, human-machine interfaces, immortality, brain downloading, thought transfers, fabrication and assemblies molecules through nanotechnology, repro-genetics, artificial uteruses (industrial babies), simulated reality, spatial colonization towards thousands of galaxies, freezing of humans, hacking of the “wetware” (biological brain). A tissue of improbabilities, aporias that question the mental health and the scientific and moral level of their authors: going from Homo Sapiens, to Homo Technologicus, to reach Homo Deus (from Noah Harari), via the trans, then post-humanism, on the grounds of harnessing all the technological power to transform man into a divine superman. Google, Amazon, Facebook and others have taken hold of the thing and are investing heavily in it (more in the hope of profits than out of humanism).   


Here is what the humanist and experienced physician that I am has to say to transhumanists: 

Man is the result of a hazardous cosmic atavism, who had to struggle to subsist, then develop and conquer the earth thanks to his technique, his collective intelligence and his social organization. It carries within it invariants: satisfaction of vital needs, fears (of danger and of lack), aggressiveness, sexuality, drives, emotions, curiosity, imagination, hatred and love. It is imperfect, versatile, inconstant, and above all a victim of numerous cognitive biases. Its recent history is marked by technical and scientific progress, a demographic explosion, a very poorly distributed collective enrichment, great periods of wars, violence, destruction, and intolerance. The current evolution vacillates between a galloping technology, a loss of reference marks and a worrying future. Transhumanism takes advantage of this to prosper. 

If man is to evolve into an augmented man, it is not with artefacts, machines, external manipulations, but by working on himself to seek what is best in him in order to develop his full potential. To live in good health and for a long time is possible now; it is enough to develop the factors of longevity and to fight against the risk factors that are well known.

 Here are some ideas for that: 

1 - Live in a more just society, free from the frantic race for profit, consumerism and poverty (which shortens life).

2 - Find peaceful, affectionate, benevolent and respectful socio-family ties, without aggressiveness and without stress

3 - Have a healthy lifestyle : no addictions, a balanced diet, sport, cognitive stimulation (watch out for screens, live outdoor activities, contact with nature and animals, games, body expression, culture, shows etc....) 

4 - Have a rewarding job and occupations conducive to personal development

5 - Be careful and attentive to your health (vaccinations, check-ups, cleanliness)

6 - Continue research and medical care, detect diseases early, repair everything possible, fight against genetic diseases, replace failing organs, etc. Technology will still help us a lot in this area

The increase in life expectancy is a reality. We can still increase it and improve its quality. The genetic impact should be considered with caution : the genome is alive and evolving, it adapts and transforms. Telomeres can lengthen, epigenetics improve. Tissue repair factors exist, others are still to be discovered. The understanding of cell proliferation processes and immune regulation is encouraging. It takes time. In addition, aging also depends on social and environmental factors: stress, overeating or famine, poisoning, living and working conditions, epidemics, quality of medical care, accidents, pollution. To further improve them, we must make respect for human life an indestructible priority. We must revisit global institutions and rethink geopolitics towards an harmonization of activities and of social organizations, promoting local democracy acting reasonably for the common good and risk prevention.    


5c - The singularity

A word on this subject in which Raymond Kurzweil is a zealous actor (19). For him, artificial intelligence and the entire computer system will soon overtake man in all areas to such an extent that, in order to survive, he will have to merge with them. The singularity is a concept without scientific proof. The technoprophet evokes a virtual world, rid of bodies, where the brain will be computerized and transferred, thought will hover in the cosmos itself technicized. Kurzweil's delirium is endless, perhaps inspired by Gnosis with the transfiguration of human bodies, migration of souls to perfect organisms, disappearance of diseases, aging, death, general spiritualization of matter….


5d - Deregulation and unreason

The above is a good illustration of the worrying complacency in which our world finds itself. The power of money is enormous, and technology fuels enrichment. Evidences of dangerous dysfunctions are tolerated, ignored, even denied (destruction of the Amazonian forest, among others). References to ethics are weak, especially since it is trying to catch-up with progress and is fragmented in many sectors. Good intentions such designating ecocide as the crime are not successful and no authority is capable of enforcing them. China does soullessly what it wants. It develops its technologies freely and is concerned with ecology only when it is the victim of its own misdeeds. The world is not regulated.

This is what Bernard Remiche, a specialist in international law, evokes in his article “Technological revolution, globalization and patent law“ (20) published in 2002. He ends up "asking the question as to whether, in the long term, we are not going towards an increasing dualisation of the world economy”. Since invention patents, initially created to protect inventors, have been captured by a few large companies carrying out most of the innovation, the bulk of countries with little innovative capacity are left prisoners of the TRIPS Agreement. International jurisdiction no longer regulates the global distribution of innovation.     

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed (if it was necessary), the failure of the WHO, the weak international solidarity in the rush for vaccines and the impunity of contaminating countries. The polluters are not worried, the international courts have no power. Fake-news, cyber attacks, conspiracies abound with impunity.

Deregulated globalization gives free rein to frantic, unreasonable technological progress, even if it claims to be rationalism.

Rationalism is not reason and even less reason, which relates to the happy medium between all the excesses, including fanaticism, dogmatism, risk, profit and inertia.

5th - What prospects for technological civilization? 

For Karl Marx, going beyond capitalism did not only imply putting an end to injustices and economic crises, but also democratizing technical systems, placing them under the control of the workers. The technique being thus freed from the imperatives of capitalism would make a different developmentpossible. In 1920 Georg Lukacs, will resume the Marxist theory of commodity fetishism and the formal rationalization of Max Weber, to create the concept of “reification" in which the universality of market forms, operates according to its own laws, conceals all traces of inter-human relations and conditions all exterior and interior life. It is the dehumanization and objectification of individuals and ideas, amplified later by technology and big cities. Today we are witnessing a depersonalization of human relations, an urban anonymity, and an apathetic detachment from the world. The future carried by great collective subjects is no more. Reification leads to the caging of being, to the loss of “self“and of hope.    

Axel Honneth (21) updated the concept of reification around human relationships: inter-subjectivity, emotional recognition, empathy, sympathy. Assertiveness depends on the recognition of others, otherwise it is reification. Technological neo-capitalism worsens tensions, competitions, we must bow to the goal to be reached, be efficient. We end up self-reifying. Technology takes the work of man through machinery and automation. After manual work, it is the turn of highly qualified trades to be threatened by artificial intelligence 

Yet technological determinism is not crippling, and a democratic social control of technical progress is possible, because it is the consumer who has the possibility of using the innovations or not.

A word about the “risk-innovation” relationship. Innovation comes after technology, it is an evolutionary engine. It is linked to the taking of risks, both in its conception, its realization and its use. It can relate to techniques, concepts, methods and responses to new issues. Some countries, companies, companies have more propensities for risk taking and innovation, while others prefer security and conservatism, or copying. The world is changing, you have to adapt. This requires taking risks and innovating. The whole is to know and to their utility or go.  

Today we can imagine three possible paths (the last 2 can be combined ): 

 1 - Continue on the current path with absolute “techno-endism", folly, trans-humanism and ecological apocalypse   

2 - Try to master and regulate technological innovation by reflecting on its usefulness, its ethics and its place in future societies (the European project of NBIC techno-convergences is a first step).

3 - Move towards an innovative green economy, aided by more frugal and environmentally friendly lifestyles, and effective international cooperation (even restrictive for applicants).

The “ solarimpulseexperiment promoted by Bertrand Piccard (around the world in a solar plane) which lists all the “ eco-protective ” projects already seems to be progress. The disappearance of Donald Trump can help, but  Bolsonaro, Xi Jinping and others do remain.     

The graph below shows the importance of progress to be made for renewable energy. Technology can also help in this area, as well as in reducing energy costs.



6 - Summary and conclusion

From the first stone cut, the technique allows man to adapt and develop. At first, it responded to the need to survive. Since then, each new technique serves daily life and promotes the creation of other techniques.

Man and his technique have thus progressed together. Is this still true today? If we define progress as only improvement and tenfold increase in technical means, the answer is yes. However, some of these means are very powerful, used for dangerous purposes for the environment and are unethical. Are they all necessary? The vital and existential needs of the man seem rather satisfied in spite of the great planetary disparities.  

Confronted with the significant deadline of global warming, technology remains, for the time being, more a question than a solution. Before demonizing or deifying it, man must feel responsible and analyze his relationship with it in order to master it instead of being subjected to it.

 The gap is dangerously widening between the magnitude of technological advances and the development of the human mind.

The rationality of technology dissolves itself into its self-justification. It becomes a myth, nourished by the illusion of the absolute benefit of science and by the weakening of philosophical thought in western countries. People start to no longer believe it  and pessimism gains.

Major economic and financial interests are at stake, and man is too entrenched in the civilization of technology to curb its fast advance. However, he now questions himself and begins to wear himself out with the frenzy of technology, which deprives him of other needs like tranquility, self-esteem (and others) and a revitalizing, uncluttered contact with nature.

Despite everything, it must be possible to reconcile economic activity, innovation and respect for nature through a more responsible and innovative approach, capable of preserving the planet, and offering everyone something to live in peace, in mutual respect and sharing. Technology can play a useful role in doing this.

This will certainly have to go through strong and organized popular initiatives coming from specific “publics”, more aware and informed, among the masses of apathetic consumers. It will take legislative and ethical regulations, the end of the economic war and the return to more restricted areas of activity, allowing a real democracy of proximity and cooperation.  

Faced with ecological danger and the ineptitude of certain ways of life and thought (consumerism, disrespect for nature and one's neighbor, the prevalence of having over being and the ego over us, economic war, fanaticism, racism, etc ...), necessity will rule, and important changes will have to occur to avoid decline, then decadence, conflicts and perhaps eschatology ...

I believe that the human being, despite his flaws, has the potential to handle this near cruciality and I hope Friedrich Nietzche's opinion “Our instinct for knowledge is too powerful for us to still enjoy unconscious happiness. Knowledge has been transformed with us into a passion that does not fear any sacrifice. We all prefer the destruction of humanity to the regression of knowledge! "(Nietzsche Aurora 1881) will not for one come true. We can approach, question, know, appreciate and love in many other areas, and primarily in those of art and the human being.    

Knowledge is not the only source of happiness...



1 - The relationship to technology is one of the major divisions in our society . Anne Taffin ; Maddyness, 19.10.2020 

2 - Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1993 -

3 - Technological progress is by far the best way to improve quality of life . Ryan Khurana ; Think, 11.03.2020 

4 - Cognitive apocalypse . GeraldBronner ; Puf 6 Enero 2021 

5 - Philosophy of Technology. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 16 Oct. 2020 <>.

6 - The meaning of life in Hans Jonas. Eric Pommier ; Studies, vol. Volume418, no. 4, 2013, pp. 485-495. 

7 - The Phenomenon of Life, towards a philosophical biology . Hans Jonas ; 1966, De Boeck ; trad. Danielle Lorries, 2001  

8 - IV-Philosophers and technology. Jacques Bouveresse in : Essais IV. Why not philosophers, Marseille, Agony, “ Test bench ”, 2004, p. 101-133.   

9 - Is the value of a civilization recognized by the development of its technique? Eric Chevet ; Philosophy teacher at the Descartes high school in Rennes. Philophore . 

10 - The structure of the digital revolution : philosophy of technology . Stéphane Vial ; Philosophy. Thesis. René Descartes University - Paris V, 2012. French. NNT: 2012PA05H014 

11 - Technique and human nature. For homo sapiens technologicus, it is not technologicus that poses a problem, it is sapiens . Michel Puech ; 09.11.2005, 1st French-speaking Philosophy Festival, “Origins and Identity”, Saint-Maurice, Valais, Switzerland . 

12 - Technique and Time . Bernard Stiegler ; Paris, Galileo : tome 1 : La Faute d'Épiméthée, 1994 ( ISBN 2718604409 )    

13 - Some social implications of modern technology . Herbert Marcuse, in " The Context of Critical Theory " ; Archives De Philosophie, vol. 52, no. 3, 1989, pp. 4   

14 - Modern society facing the technological challenge : the mega-machine and fate . Serge Latouche ; 1998, International Studies, 29 (3), 669–681 .  

15 - Between reason and experience: essays in technology and modernity . Andrew Feenberg; foreword by Brian Wynne; afterword by Michel Callon. 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ISBN 978-0-262-51425-5

16 - The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation ; Joseph Henrich and Michael Muthukrishna ; Annual Review of Psychology . 2021. 72: 207–40  

17 - Evolution, institutions and collective intelligence under the sieve of " unidisciplinarity ". About Joseph Henrich's book, collective intelligence. How to explain the success of the human species . Julien Vercueil ; Regulation review, 27, 1st semester - Spring 2020, ; DOI : 10.4000 / regulation.17041        

18 - Wizards of the future . Loïc Etienne ; Hachette livre (Marabout) 2020 

19 - Ray Kurzweil, icon of transhumanist America . Roger-Pol Droit ; Les Echos, 16. 05. 2019.  

20 - Technological revolution, globalization and patent law . Bernard Remiche ; De Boeck Supérieur, “International Review of Economic Law”, 2002/1 t. XVI, 1 (pages 83 to 124) 

21 - Reification and recognition. A discussion with Axel Honneth . Christian Lazzeri ; La Découverte, “Revue du MAUSS” 2011/2 n ° 38, pages 259 to 285. ISSN 1247-4819 - ISBN 9782707170040 

Laurent Vivès lives in Saint Gaudens 31800. He was a hospital practitioner at the Comminges Pyrénées Hospital Center, internist and oncologist. Passionate about clinical research, he is the author of several scientific publications. He is now retired and has created the blog “Collaborative and Contemporary Approach to Truth” with 2 friends from high school.

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