Thinking Out Loud #4: Final Thoughts Before the Launch

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The issue is literally taking shape. That is good news of course, but as the finalization is nearing, the patterns behind voluntary and involuntary choices become clearer. It means that a increasincgly clear picture is emerging of what V51 is and will be as a whole.
Our own approach to the field is also becoming evident to ourselves, witnessing a
file rouge emerging between pragmatic and speculative contributions, projects and poems, images and diagrams.
The picture is so far one of balance: neither pessimistic nor optimistic, going beyond techno-utopian and anxious-dystopian.

But balance does not equal homogeneity nor neutrality, and that is why the issue includes radically different viewpoints and sometimes extreme perspectives. The common denominator between them being the will not only to reflect on technology but to think with technology in order to make propositions for the present and to envision future scenarios.

But, as we found out, balancing is no easy task. Think about what happened to Joshua Brown in May 2017. Brown was a fervent enthusiast of Tesla, Elon Musk’s automobile brand, to the point that he became almost a public figure in his own niche. As you probably read Tesla model S comes with Autopilot, a technology that helps the driver, for instance, staying in the right lane or changing it if needed. Although that does not make model S a driver-less car, Tesla advertised the new technology implying that it gets really close to that height – think about the name they chose for instance. What happened is that Brown was driving on a highway in Florida when the Autopilot erroneously changed the lane making the car crash against a semitrailer truck. The accident was fatal for him.
Brown was overconfident in the technology he was provided with and probably the optimistic advertisement by Tesla mislead him. Autopilot as a technology was embraced both by the brand and by the driver with too much enthusiasm and that proved itself to be a dangerous approach.
But at the same time, not buying a Tesla or not carefully trying Autopilot, does not represent a helpful approach to the technological reality we live in either.

Perhaps Brown’s story can work as a cautionary tale, but technological progress will not slow down because of it (surely not Tesla) and we, as cultural agents, either keep the pace with it or keep ourselves busy with the forensic of what already happened.

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room during Apollo 8 mission (23 Dec. 1968)


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