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Technology and the multiplication of labor - Dhamma Wheel

Technology and the multiplication of labor

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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poto
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Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:02 pm

I would like to share with you all some of my thoughts on technology, mechanization and the multiplication of labor.

As I see it, the primary reason our human civilization has been able to flourish to it's heights today is because of the use of technology to multiply labor. The sole reason we are able to sustain a population in the billions is because of this multiplication effect.

At the dawn of civilization humans began to develop agriculture. The planting of crops and the keeping of animals allowed humans to support a much larger population than hunter-gathering tribes. During this time animals were used along with simple technology like hand tools to multiply human labor and allow an abundance of food to be produced.

This abundance produced from the slave labor of animals (and humans) allowed other humans to specialize in trades other than food production. Over time, many trades and specializations developed over the numerous different societies that developed. As I see it, this surplus productivity can be tied directly to the further development of these cultures, arts and sciences. People who did not have as productive methods of multiplying their labor had to work much harder just to survive, and as such would not have had the time or energy to develop a complex civilization.

Once the industrial revolution came about we began to replace the slave labor of animals and the minor multiplication effect of hand tools with machines. This mechanization allowed for vastly increased productivity and the expansion of our population into the billions. With this great multiplication of labor also came greater problems. Just as mechanization increased productivity in beneficial things like farming, it also increased the lethality of weapons by multiplying the effects of their labor too.

Despite the problems our civilization has managed to forge ahead, continuing to produce greater abundance with greater multiplication of labor. This is a trend that should continue, and if it does it will one day produce a post-scarcity world.

I don't see technology as bad or evil. It's just a way to multiply labor, and if used skillfully it can produce great benefits.

Now, I'm sure by this point there will be some of you reading this that will be raging about resources and the environment. I'd first like to address resources. As our technological sophistication expands, we will discover and create new resources, as well as finding more efficient ways to utilize and recycle old resources. This has been proven itself true time and time again, yet many people still bemoan how we will run out of this or that. It's true that resources are finite, but human capacity to innovate is infinite! In my view, that more than compensates for the finite nature of available resources.

The second is the environment. As I have stated many times, I am in favor of environmental protections and I do consider myself an environmentalist. I fully understand that the multiplication of labor to the scale it is today has resulted in many environmental problems. However, I've also seen successes in cleaning up the environmental damage we have caused. If our multiplication of labor continues to increase, along with technological advancements, logic follows that it should require much less labor in the future to clean up environmental problems. I'm not proposing that we wait forever to take action on environmental issues, but I would like to see caution urged on issues that are uncertain or the effects of which are not fully known or understood. As time passes and our scientific knowledge base expands along with out waste treatment and pollution control technology improving, taking skillful action to help clean up the environment should get much easier. That's all I'm trying to say.

OK, now back to the topic.

As Buddhists, I feel we have the chance to use technology to multiply our efforts at attaining enlightenment, as well as helping to lessen the suffering of other beings. In my business I use computers to multiply my labor. I automate as much as possible and try to get the maximum benefit from my labor. I would like to apply that same principal to Buddhism. I haven't seen very much being done yet in that respect, so it looks like there's a lot of room for innovation.

I would like to help build a future world with a post-scarcity of enlightenment. We have vast production capacity which has resulted in huge surpluses of many material goods, so much so that we are near post-scarcity for material goods. However, producing post-scarcity of enlightenment would likely benefit us more than a post-scarcity of mere material goods. I have some specific ideas on how to make this happen, and in truth, I have been quietly pondering them for some time. However, I have very rarely spoken directly about these things, and I'm hoping to get feedback from fellow Buddhists on the subject.

Basically, without going into too many details just yet, I'm wondering how you all feel about using technology to multiply the productivity of your practice?
:coffee:

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Dugu
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby Dugu » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:31 pm

If I can have a robot go to work and bring home the paycheck so I can spend my whole day in practice would be nice.

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poto
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:07 pm


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zavk
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby zavk » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:29 am

With metta,
zavk

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pink_trike
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:42 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Lampang
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby Lampang » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:18 am


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poto
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:21 am


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zavk
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby zavk » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:14 am

With metta,
zavk

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poto
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:20 am


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poto
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:14 am

Was hoping there might be more comments on this.

Does anybody think it's wrong to be involved with developing new technology to assist one's practice and spread the Dhamma?

I am curious, because I see threads here where others have no problem speculating on things like 'what if we lived in a Buddhist world', but few seem interested in discussing methods that may actually help make that a reality???

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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:58 am

Hi poto, I was wondering about this a few years back, here’s how I remember approaching the subject:

What’s the goal? – Insight into all conditioned dhammas being anatta, anicca and dukkha.

How does this happen? – Through thorough understanding of all dhammas (so, of mental states and factors, as well as their interaction with matter).

What would be the best aid towards that goal? -A teacher who is:
(1) an ariya that already has a direct understanding of all the dhammas,
(2) has the ability to teach what he has directly understood,
(3) has the ability to read other’s minds (e.g. he could read my mind and point out – “that was a moment of generosity that was accompanied by right view, neutral feeling, right mindfulness, etc, or that was a moment of greed that was accompanied by concentration, ignorance, pleasant feeling, etc”. The idea is that this would help me to develop direct understanding of various mental states, instead of taking them for (my)self as usual).

The challenges of replicating such an aid technologically (i.e. making a "virtual ariya"):

(a) reading the current mental state and the accompanying factors. Neural science currently (to my knowledge) has a different focus than Buddhism – it can read electrical impulses, fields and chemical reactions that are currently happening in the brain. However, such readings do not help with insight – i.e. they cannot tell me whether the present moment is accompanied by mindfulness or not, does it have right or wrong concentration, was there right view or not (so just on/off states for various mental factors, we’re not even talking about their different intensities and kinds)etc. So, the challenge is to somehow translate/align the scientific readings with Buddhist perspective on the mind (in particular, abhidhamma which has the most detailed model of the mind in the Buddhist sense) that is conducive to insight.

(b) mapping the various mental states and factors. Some states and factors are common to all people, but some are experienced only by arias, so we’d have to find one on whom to base the mapping, and since there are differences even among ariyas, we’d need many of them.

Of course, we’re not even touching here the fundamental issues whether some or any of the mental states and factors as defined in Buddhism can actually be measured with current technology, and whether brain = mind in the first place. This is a whole different story that we can only speculate on.

In regards of your question in the last post, I was wondering at some point what would be more useful to everyone else, and at the moment I think that contributing to getting the entire tipitaka and commentaries online as a searchable database in several languages is a bit more pressing matter than making a virtual ariya. But, of course, if you feel that you can better contribute by pursuing the virtual thing, I'd say go for it. It would still be an expression of kindness and generosity and that's what really counts.

Best wishes

Clueless Git
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby Clueless Git » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:33 am


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby Clueless Git » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:01 am


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poto
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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:11 pm


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby pt1 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:31 am


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:20 am


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby pt1 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:52 am


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby poto » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:49 am


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Re: Technology and the multiplication of labor

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:11 am



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