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OII Technology

Technology and ethics: disruptions and revolutions

Ulysses and the Sirens
Ulysses and the Sirens (Herbert James Draper)

Ulysses knew how to pass safely by the coast of the Sirens. In the Odyssey, we are told how he instructed his sailors to put wax in their ears, bind him tightly to the mast, and by no means release him until they had passed the Sirens’ island. Ulysses knew that the Sirens’ temptation was such that he won’t be able to resist it without restraint. He knew that the wonderful Sirens’ song meant in truth destruction. It had, therefore, to be resisted.

Technology has a sweet, melodic and very attractive singing. It promises humans to do, make and achieve the impossible. It wonders us at all ages, and we fall quickly for its wonders. We imagine new perfect worlds that will bring us happiness and plenty, all thanks to our technological advances. Yet the Sirens of technology, if not resisted, can easily bring us to destruction. History is witness of this danger.

Technology and ethics are intimately related. How we approach and use technology is very much conditioned by our ethical values. Therefore, the construction of a society based solely on technological disruption is a dangerous evolution. For our behaviours, as individuals, groups and as society as whole are transformed unknowingly by these new technologies without the restraint of ethical principles that would, otherwise, guide our conduct in more beneficial directions. When Ulysses ordered its sailors to bind him to the mast and keep him there, he was imposing on himself an ethical principle to resist the temptation of the Sirens. He was telling his sailors not to follow his orders in any circumstances; he was innovating to resist a path he knew will bring him destruction.

Since the enlightenment and particularly since the XIX century, Western civilization has based great part of its social, economic, scientific and political development on technological advance. Despite all technological revolutions it has gone through, there hasn’t been an equivalent ethical revolution to help us cope with the transformations that they implied. Instead, we are now living in-between a conservative Christian ethic, which did indeed suffer a great transformation during the Reformation, and a materialist ethic based on external impulses of consumption and accumulation, ignoring other principles and values that form the complex nature of a human being, creating therefore what Durkheim called “anomie“: a lack of social ethics that produces “moral deregulation and an absence of legitimate aspiration.”

The Internet is the technological revolution of our era. At the same time, it is by and IN itself a social revolution. There are those, many, that want to see mainly its positive aspects. Or those that mostly focus on its negative consequences. Yet the nature of the disruption and revolution of the Internet depends not in the technology itself, but in the context where it is immersed, and how this context changes accordingly or not. A very important part of this environment is our ethics. If we use the Internet within our current ethics, I am afraid it won’t be as good as the optimists want us to believe. It is urgent, I believe, that we discuss seriously our values and principles that should drive our lives, and that we spread them in dialogue with the people. And it is in this need where we see the complexity of social phenomena; for the Internet is, at the same time, the perfect instrument and space to do so. In fact, I think it’s already happening at a small scale. How successful this ethical disruption and revolution in the making can be won’t be determined by a technological feat, but by many other factors that organize our human lives, among them our own will to bind ourselves to the mast.

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Informació Política @ca

2010: Accés a la informació a Catalunya

Al juliol d’aquest any vaig començar un projecte bastant ambiciós: construir les bases per aconseguir una veritable llibertat d’informació pública a Catalunya. El primer gran pas per fer aixó es l’elaboració i aprovació de una llei d’accés a la informació i les dades del sector públic. Si tot va bé, l’any 2010 será l’any del canvi a Catalunya en aquest sentit. Espero dir més en un futur no molt llunyá.

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Log

End and beginning

Finally. The match is over. Christmas lunches and dinners are finished.

It’s been a strange Christmas. The feeling is of the end of an era, and the beginning of a transformation. This is just a feeling. Just an impression about where we are going. A feeling of crumbling ethical values and the lack of a good replacement. It is like years of neo-liberal aggression is showing massively its social havoc. We have been warned so many times. And still today, millions expect the world to keep suffering for the benefit of the few and the material pleasures of the many.

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Log

Round three & Jared Diamond

OK. Round three – dinner with my father, his wife and kids – finished. Tomorrow, probably the most pleasant round: lunch in my mother’s house with my mother’s family.

In the meantime, one of the good things of being in recovery of my eye surgery is that I can’t work for long in front of the computer, so I am forced to relax. Mainly by listening to audiobooks. I recommend Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. Fantastic book about the biological evolution of the human being and civilization.

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Log

Christmas: Round One

Every Christmas I have three meals with my family. One dinner in my uncle’s house on December 23, with my part of my mother’s family. One dinner on December 24 in my father’s restaurant, with him, his wife, their 3 kids (three of my six siblings) and my full brother. And last, Christmas lunch in my mother’s house, where I normally stay, with my mother’s family except my uncle. And since a few years, there is one more lunch on December 24 with my other brothers and sisters, and my father (don’t try to understand it, it is complicated).

Today, we had the first round. It’s been the same since I have the capability of remembering. It is becoming more monotonous every year, though. Tomorrow more…arghhhh

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Log

the best moment to get eye surgery

it seems that I chose the best moment to get my eye surgery. Nothing important, I just got rid of the myopia for convenience reasons. Today, it was the last stage of a process that started on December 17. When I was operated in 10 minutes by a rather futuristic German machine. Quite entertaining. Particularly because they gave me a valium (my first!) before the operation, so I left the hospital with a big smile and joking with all the nurses :). Finally today, the doctor took off the therapeutic contact lenses to protect the eye while is healing. My vision should be all up from here.

Why do I say that I think I chose the best time to do it? You just have to look at the weather reports and forecasts. Normally I travel from Brussels (or London) during these dates. I think it would have been a rather complicate feat at this moment. Instead, I arrived to Barcelona the day before the whole chaos started, December 14. Ì call this luck.

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General @ca

La llista de Losantos

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Redes

La lista de Losantos

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Europe Politics

Why not? Catalonia’s independence seen from Europe

mapa_catalunyaWhen I left Barcelona for the first time in 1998 to go to Paris, Catalunya was rarely known as a place where identitarian feeling was strong and culture thriving. Very often, my language, Catalan, was known as a Spanish dialect and our claims of autonomy taken lightly, as part of our folklore, in comparison to the violent separatist movement in Basque country.

In all this time since I left my country, more than 10 years, things have changed. News about what Jose Ortega y Gasset called “the Catalan problem” (el problema catalán) have regularly appeared in international media. Something I was not accustomed to. At the same time, a Catalan government more assertive in claiming the position of the Catalan language, and in extending the presence of Catalunya around the world came into power in 2003.

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General @ca

Referèndum i sentència

Aquest Nadal pot ser molt mogut a Catalunya. El 13 de desembre es celebrarà un referèndum sobre la independència de Catalunya a 143 municipis (!) i el Tribunal Constitucional pot dictar sentència sobre l’Estatut. Moments interessants estem vivint al nostre pais. I jo arribo el 14.