"The Neutrality of Technology and the OPEC's Production Decision"

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Feb 13, 2024

4 min read


"The Neutrality of Technology and the OPEC's Production Decision"

Technology has become an integral part of our lives, shaping our lifestyles, thoughts, and interactions. However, the question arises: is technology neutral? On one hand, there is the argument that technology is merely a tool, and its neutrality depends on how it is used. On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that technology does have an impact on our lives and can influence our behavior. Let's explore these ideas further.

The instrumental conception of technology presents the view that technology is a simple means to an end. Gorgias, the sophist depicted by Plato, argues that just as a weapon can be used for protection or harm, technology is morally neutral. It is the responsibility of humans to determine how technology is used and to be accountable for their actions. In this perspective, the idea of technological alienation, which suggests that technology directly deprives humans of their control over their lives, is unfounded. Instead, Marx emphasizes that the revolt of the working class should lead to political change rather than the destruction of machines.

However, there is evidence to support the non-neutrality of technology. The increasing focus on rational efficiency in technology has led to a quantitative view of success and happiness. In various aspects of life, such as work and leisure, the emphasis is on productivity, going further, and going faster. This shift towards a purely quantitative measure of achievement is driven by the efficiency-driven nature of technology. It conditions individuals to prioritize economic value as an ethical norm, which can have consequences on their well-being and relationships.

Moreover, the development of technology has also resulted in technocracy, where political domination is influenced by technological demands. Marcuse argues that the growth of bureaucracy, administration, and planning associated with technological advancement weakens democratic institutions. Individuals find themselves obedient to the demands of technological apparatus, distribution systems, and consumption patterns, with the ruling elites seemingly succumbing to these demands rather than determining them. This shift towards technocratic governance further highlights the non-neutrality of technology in shaping our society.

In a different context, the recent decision by the OPEC and its allies to increase oil production minimally despite pressure from the United States sheds light on the role of technology in the global economy. The countries exporting oil have agreed to a marginal increase of 100,000 barrels per day, responding minimally to the demands of President Joe Biden. This decision aims to maintain prices at elevated levels, ensuring stability and profitability for the major oil-producing nations.

The motivation behind this minimal increase is the desire to stabilize oil prices, which have been volatile throughout the year. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, among others, have expressed their intention to keep oil prices high. This strategy has proven beneficial for Saudi Arabia, which experienced significant economic growth in the second quarter due to the high price of oil. However, it is important to note that most OPEC members are already operating at maximum production capacities with limited reserves. This underproduction and the OPEC's reliance on Russia, as no decision can be made without its involvement, further highlight the influence of technology, specifically in the extraction and distribution of oil.

In conclusion, technology is not neutral. While some argue that it is a tool whose neutrality depends on human actions, there is evidence to suggest that technology shapes our lives, thoughts, and interactions. The focus on rational efficiency and the quantification of success driven by technology, as well as the emergence of technocracy, demonstrate the non-neutrality of technology. Additionally, the OPEC's recent decision regarding oil production reflects how technology influences the global economy and the geopolitical dynamics surrounding oil.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Reflect on the values and norms that drive your use of technology. Consider whether they align with your personal well-being and the well-being of others. Strive for a balanced approach that considers the ethical implications of your technological choices.
  • 2. Advocate for democratic decision-making processes in technological advancements. Be aware of the potential for technocracy and work towards ensuring that political power remains in the hands of the people rather than being dictated by technological demands.
  • 3. Explore alternative energy sources and support sustainable practices. Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to the development and adoption of renewable energy technologies. By doing so, you can help mitigate the negative impact of technology on the environment.

In a world where technology plays an increasingly significant role, it is crucial to critically examine its influence and take proactive steps to ensure its alignment with our values, well-being, and the sustainability of our planet. Only then can we navigate the non-neutrality of technology and harness its potential for positive change.

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