Top of Mind

What we're thinking about right now.

Do shared values emerge from culture or vice versa? Is technology a manifestation of our values, or are we internally shaped by the technology we create? Can conscience be engineered? Can technology help us make more conscientious decisions?

Are you doing the right thing right now, and if you are, how do you know?


  • Made by Claudie Plen on 12/10/09

    technology and culture are both mediums through which we express our shared values, and find spaces where we build communities based on those values. Sometimes its a conscious process, but often not, and no, conscience can’t be engineered, but it can be influenced…

  • Made by Realtime Scott on 16/10/09

    What I find most interesting is the evolution of the trendsetter in regards to technology. I would argue that when technologies first hit as necessities (automobiles, telephones etc), they were embraced in a “Keeping up with the Joneses” type style where a person just HAD to get the newest T-Bird to upshow their neighbor. That evolved into celebrity worship where idolization overcame peer competition and allowed George Clooney to sell the latest and greatest watch. From there, corporations started taking technology into their own hands and starting dictating what the public HAD to own. (Apple and the iPod revolution being the ultimate example). And now, recent history has taught us that FINALLY, the end user has become empowered and has taken technology into his/her own hands. Now-a-days, everyone is an inventor.

  • Made by Becca Taylor on 19/10/09

    Re Can conscience be engineered by technology? Well, this is really interesting. If there was an app that would act as my magic 9 ball and be my conscience, would I use it? Probably not. There is something beautiful about human instinct and as a human grows from baby to adult, human instinct is influenced by experience and together I believe they become the foundation of our conscience. A conscience needs to be nurtured in reality. Authentic experiences that trigger emotion enable and nurture that thing inside of us all that is our conscience and without it, and instead with technology to interfere with that process, I think will make our world a very boring place.

    However, having said that, we’ve already engineered our decision making process. E.g. ‘I’m not sure about that? Let me Google it and I’ll get back to you…’ Does this mean my conscience is now Google? Ouch!

  • Made by Steven on 20/10/09

    Becca — I hear you. But imagine if technology — or perhaps I should say information — made it possible for you to make choices you WANT to make, choices that match your real-life-experience-informed conscience. For example: most people don’t know that most chocolate is harvested by near slave labor. Children. Etc. There’s not a lot of “cruelty free” chocolate out there. So when you buy a chocolate bar, you’re supporting something that’s probably NOT in line with your conscience. Human instinct is useless when you don’t know the broader and invisible implications of your actions.

    Realtime technology could function like meta-labeling — letting us understand the broader implications of our actions which we otherwise would not know. It could also enable us to make decisions about, say, how long a shower to take (realtime feedback on our hot water useage) or whether to carpool, take the bus, or drive. It could remind us to turn the lights out (I’m often too lazy) or to take a moment to register our opinion with a local politician. It could let us know a nearby charity that needs exactly what we have to offer. It could matchmake people who have something to offer with people who need it.

    I suppose that’s what I’m asking. Because the more we realize the implications of our actions (especially when Mum’s not around to tell us “don’t do that” — which is initially where our sense of right and wrong emerge) the more our conscience — or conscientiousness, will deepen and grow.

  • Made by Becca Taylor on 22/10/09

    I always love to read/hear your thoughts and ideas, they’re inspiring and certainly challenge my own thoughts, and I agree to a certain extent, I guess I’m just among a good few people who are still a little frightened to give in to a machine to make decisions for me. If the information accessible is real-time and relevant to ‘me’ then I’m only half convinced, when you start to involve the ‘good’ and ‘right’ information which is transparent and true then I’m a more interested. I’m a tough audience because I get it, I can see the light of realtime but I’m also nervous of the affects it will have on power and how that power could so easily be abused. Then again, that is true of so many things….

Leave a Reply