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Re: reflection

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"
At 12:45 PM 4/19/97 -0400, Tom Sherman wrote:

>Without succumbing to nostalgia, it may make good sense to reflect on
>our recent past, if nothing else to help us verify the value of our
>trajectory as we head into turbulent, previously unexperienced domains. 

Thanks much for this marvelous symposium. I enjoyed thoroughly the previous
one, though I didn't participate actively. The Fleshfactor theme intrigues
me because it assumes that we are headed towards "unexperienced domains."  I
think not.  If I take an inventory of all the items on my kitchen counter I
will find that each and every one of them is an extension of some part of my
body or primate nature. A body and nature that functions perfectly well
without them. My car key is an extension of my feet. The AA battery is an
extension of my energy. The pen is an extension of my tongue. I don't think
that there is anything that we can design or construct that is not an
extension of who we are already. 

We can manipulate, contract, synthesize, shatter, emphasize, obsess and
squeeze various aspects of our natures. But we can't change or invent them.
The glories of Mozart, the exhortations of religion, the passion of
nationalism, the technological marvel of the Space Shuttle, the endless
horizons of the Internet may be many orders more complex than my kitchen
counter, but they are still many orders simpler than a biological system,
the 3rd Chimpanzee. No matter what we come up with, whatever evolves as
extensions of ourselves, they will never be as complex and marvelous as who
we are now, (or a tree for that matter). I would suggest that the thrill of
the technological revolution is as old a new experience as discovering the
next valley. If we recognize ourselves as "nodes" in a vast network of
interconnecting meta-minds, we are only rediscovering that we are social
animals and we will end up behaving just as we always have, once we get our
modems working properly.  The inherit danger with technology is the same as
with any of our extensions, that they become more valuable than ourselves.
We learned to slip leather between us and the mud, then we colored the
leather, put ribbons on it, jacked up the heels and created false value.
Anybody can have feet and mud, but how many people can have pretty shoes?
We forget that the feet and the mud are what is truly valuable. The Internet
is nothing compared to you and me.

---Peter Charlot

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