"Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the world. But if you step back and look at what freedom actually means for us today, it's a strange and limited kind of freedom.
Politicians promised to liberate us from the old dead hand of bureaucracy, but they have created an evermore controlling system of social management, driven by targets and numbers. Governments committed to freedom of choice have presided over a rise in inequality and a dramatic collapse in social mobility. And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempt to enforce freedom has led to bloody mayhem and the rise of an authoritarian anti-democratic Islamism. This, in turn, has helped inspire terrorist attacks in Britain. In response, the Government has dismantled long-standing laws designed to protect our freedom.
The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom. This model was derived from ideas and techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War to control the behavior of the Soviet enemy."
"We hear that not only is change accelerating but that the pace of change is accelerating as well. While this is true of computational carrying–capacity at a planetary level, at the same time ––and in fact the two are connected–– we are also in a moment of cultural de–acceleration. We invest our energy in futuristic information technologies, including our cars, but drive them home to kitsch architecture copied from the 18th century. The future on offer is one in which everything changes, so long as everything stays the same. We'll have Google Glass, but still also business casual. This timidity is our path to the future? No, this is incredibly conservative, and there is no reason to think that more Gigaflops will inoculate us. Because, if a problem is in fact endemic to a system, then the exponential effects of Moore's Law also serve to amplify what's broken. It is more computation along the wrong curve, and I don't think this is necessarily a triumph of reason. Part of my work explores deep technocultural shifts, from post–humanism to the post–anthropocene, but TED's version has too much faith in technology, and not nearly enough commitment to technology. It is placebo technoradicalism, toying with risk so as to re–affirm the comfortable. So our machines get smarter and we get stupider. But it doesn't have to be like that. Both can be much more intelligent. Another futurism is possible."
(Benjamin Bratton, 20 December 2013)
"Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right–wing ideologies (social conservatism, right–wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out–groups. In an analysis of two large–scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract–reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models."
(Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri, 2012)
Hodson, G. and M. Busseri (2012). "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right–Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact." Psychological Science 23(2): 187–195.
"The resource covers basic logic and faulty arguments, developing student's critical thinking skills. Suitable for year 8–10, focused on science issues, the module can be adapted to suit classroom plans."
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