The laws of thermodynamics play



1. The laws of thermodynamics play a significant role in the Huesemanns’ critique of the techno-optimists. Name and explain one of the two laws and how that law plays a role in the Huesemanns’ critique. How might Kelly respond to this critique raised by the Huesemanns?

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2. The concept of progress is problematized in the film, Surviving Progress, and by the Huesemanns, while Kelly embraces it unreservedly. The film develops the notion of “progress traps.” What does the film mean by this term? What, according to the film, may be the greatest progress trap of all, and why do the people in the film think this? Think about and give an example of a progress trap (ONE NOT IN THE FILM). Compare what the film says about progress with the Huesemanns’ critique of progress. Why has technological progress necessarily led to environmental harm? Paradoxically, why do you think that most people, like Kelly, believe that progress, a recent invention, is so desirable when in fact it has led to so much environmental destruction and now threatens even the collapse of civilization?

3. Why do Kelly and the Unabomber agree that technology is a “totalizing totality”? What do they mean by this? If they agree about the fundamental nature of technology, how do they disagree about the implications of this view held in common (other than the moral issue about hurting people)? How does this difference revolve around concerns for freedom and individuality?

4. Why do the Huesemanns reject techno-fixes as the solution to the problems created by the applications of science and technology? State briefly their argument against them. Similarly, the Huesemanns reject efficiency improvements as another solution to these problems. What is the fundamental reason again that they reject these solutions? How does the Jevons Paradox support their argument against efficiency improvements as a viable solution?

5. The Huesemanns assert that the problems created by science and technology are the result of a “myopic engineering mentality.” What do they mean by this, and why do they see the fundamental problem with science and technology to lie in its method that they call “mechanistic reductionism.” Describe this method, and explain why it results in this “myopic engineering mentality” as the source of all the problems with modern technology.

6. For each of the images on the Moodle page, explain the relevance or meaning of that image for the topic that week in just a few sentences:

a. WEEK 2: Technium as 7th Kingdom b. WEEK 4: Two Hands

c. WEEK 5: Infinite Games d. Week 7: Geoengineering

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