...according to [Neil Postman], we no longer live in a technocratic era. We now inhabit what he calls technopoly. In this third technological age, Postman argues, the fight between invention and traditional values has been resolved, with the former emerging as the clear winner. The result is the “submission of all forms of cultural life to the sovereignty of technique and technology.” Innovation and increased efficiency become the unchallenged mechanisms of progress, while any doubts about the imperative to accommodate the shiny and new are marginalized. “Technopoly eliminates alternatives to itself in precisely the way Aldous Huxley outlined in Brave New World,” Postman writes. “It does not make them illegal. It does not make them immoral. It does not even make them unpopular. It makes them invisible and therefore irrelevant.” Technopoly, he concludes, “is totalitarian technocracy.”

What I didn’t realize back in 2016, however, was that, although the grip of technopoly was strong, it was also soon to weaken.

A major source of this destabilization was the Trump-Clinton election cycle...Where once they had seen platforms like Facebook as useful and in some sense mandatory, they started treating them more warily.

This emerging resistance to the technopoly mind-set doesn’t fall neatly onto a spectrum with techno-optimism at one end and techno-skepticism at the other. Instead, it occupies an orthogonal dimension we might call techno-selectionism. This is a perspective that accepts the idea that innovations can significantly improve our lives but also holds that we can build new things without having to accept every popular invention as inevitable. Techno-selectionists believe that we should continue to encourage and reward people who experiment with what comes next. But they also know that some experiments end up causing more bad than good. Techno-selectionists can be enthusiastic about artificial intelligence, say, while also taking a strong stance on settings where we should block its use. They can marvel at the benefits of the social Internet without surrendering their kids’ mental lives to TikTok.

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