Neotechnocracy vs Democracy: Our Future Resource-Oriented Economy | Hacker Noon

“Philosophers only explained the world in different ways; but the thing is to change it.” — Karl Marx

During the time of rapid growth in the possibilities for scientific and technological progress and accelerated implementation of its results, we increasingly began to hear about technocracy as a new form of social and public management.

We are living now in the era of dynamic and regressive changes in the ruling regimes — a period of major political changes, where the dramatic pullback of the half-century socio-economic gains of society is aggravated by a deep and prolonged economic crisis, and the onset of world financial capital and its rules on civilization.

Already now, in Europe and in the US, as well as in leading Asian countries, one can observe the transition from oligarchic democracy to a colonial-technocratic dictatorship. How dangerous or useful are these processes? Is it worth to be afraid of a technocratic dictatorship? You will not get answers today at all. Only with time and after us it becomes clear where the next experiment will lead the human civilization.

Where did the terms come from?

The term technocracy has several meanings:

  1. The caste of technical specialists who are members of the top management functionaries;
  2. A theoretical concept, an ideology that recognizes the leading role in society of technology and technical specialists.

Technocratic ideas were preached by F. Bacon, A. Saint-Simon, O. Comte and some others. The essence of ideology is that society can be regulated by the principles of scientific and technological rationality. The modern technocratic theory of the state originates from the publication in 1919 of the work of T. Veblen “The engineers and the price system”, which entailed in the 1920s a series of studies that came the era of power engineers. T. Veblen wrote that technical specialists must replace the bourgeoisie and financiers. Already in the 30-ies in US, a social movement has emerged, promoting the idea that social welfare is possible with an industrial revolution and scientific planning of production.

However, the 21st century is already dominates, while the bourgeoisie and financiers are not going to surrender their dominant positions. In any case, they think so. In the 70–80’s of the 20th century in the US began to circulate the idea that the public administration needs professionals who able to develop the concept of “post-industrial society”. At this time, they began to believe that the main driving force of social progress is knowledge. Technocracy, according to modern followers of this theory, is able to solve global problems: environmental, energy, economic, social, wars, demographic and others. In this case, the concept of a postindustrial society is actually identified with the technocratic management of society.

Post-industrial society is based on the “game between people”, in which, against the background of computer technology, the dominant position is occupied by intelligent technology based on information. In these conditions, the main resource is information. The priority shifts from semi-skilled workers to engineers and scientists, further improvement of human knowledge of the world occurs primarily through the use of abstract models and system analysis, the central importance is the codification of theoretical knowledge, and the most important task of scientists becomes a promising forecasting of economic and social processes. The rapid development of science and technology in a post-industrial society makes the social revolution superfluous, since its place is occupied by the scientific and technological revolution. For example, the ideologist of post-industrialism, D. Bell points to the following five characters of a “post-industrial society”:

  1. Transition from the economy of manufacturing industries to the economy of services;
  2. The growing predominance of the “class of specialists and technicians”;
  3. The dominant role of theoretical knowledge as the basis for innovation and policy formulation;
  4. Orientation in the future on the monitoring and evaluation of technology;
  5. Decision-making based on a new “intellectual technology”

Wait, doesn’t that remind you of something? After all, such signs are already everywhere around us. Even this ghost fifth sign as “decision-making based on a new intellectual technology”, even a couple of years ago, is the development of technologies based on Artificial Intelligence, a phenomenon that is widespread today and has potential for application. Post-industrial society is a society of knowledge in a dual sense:

  1. Research and development, based on theoretical knowledge, is increasingly becoming a source of innovation.
  2. The progress of society is uniquely determined by advances in the field of knowledge. The postindustrial society is also a communal society where the social unit is rather a separate community of individuals than the individual, and the goal is to achieve a “social solution” that is different from the simple sum of individual decisions. One can foresee that to some extent we are actually returning to castes.

Such a separate community is determined by technocratic methods of problem solving. Therefore, the term technocracy itself can be supplemented — as a direction in social and political thought, according to which the society should be regulated by the rules of rationality, which holders are technocrats: engineers, production organizers, technical experts, information and monitoring decision-making systems (in fact, the role is assigned to artificial Intelligence). As a control system, technocracy can dominate government institutions and corporations. Such institutions will have to attract a number of specialists and information technologies to develop scientific and technical recommendations and decisions on issues of industrial, economic and social activities in order to ensure their effectiveness, objectivity and usefulness.

Technocracy — a chance for the future?

From the social standpoint, the ideas of technocracy are virtually synonymous with Plato’s “Republic” and other meritocratic concepts. Only here the Plato “philosophers” are replaced by scientists and engineers who are called to manage the economy, and in the future, in fact, artificial intelligence, as the highest degree of fair decision-making. However, various authors have brought technological determinism to the fore as a key idea, suggesting that it is the development of technology and science that is primary in relation to the development of all other spheres of society.

In fact, technological determinism is a bourgeois view on the laws of history, originating in the works of Enlightenment philosophers. On the one hand, technological determinism was engendered by the rapid development of the productive forces of developed countries at the beginning of the twentieth century, on the other hand, by economic problems that were the reverse side of capitalist progress.

One of the most complete options for developing the future of technocracy is the concept of “technostructure”. In fact, it is a think-tank or, to go even further, it is a global software (decision-making platform), including the totality of opinions of scientists, engineers, technicians, specialists and technologies. It will become the leading force in the era of globalization of the world and the world economy.

To replace the profit maximization, the technostructure sets its goals that are not determined by the market, but determined by the higher intelligence (the same technostructure). First, we are talking about a “protective” goal, the dynamic preservation of the status quo, in which public administration remains in the technostructure, as a balance between technocrats and artificial intelligence.

So what is the future with technocracy? Moreover, it is a project of a technocratic system with a resource-oriented economy based not on commodity-money relations, but on the most efficient allocation of terrestrial resources, the use of alternative energy sources, and automated machine control (using artificial intelligence) on a global scale. Naturally, not only resources, but also the results of labor, i.e. goods and services, with a new distribution model will be available to everyone. In principle, it sounds utopian, but it’s real as well.

In the twentieth century, the development of monopolies actually destroyed competition within the state, and it remained at the world level, only as competition for spheres of influence. In addition, in the 21st century the world economy steadily began to move towards a crisis. The global economy and the global division of labor, which gave effective production, stumbled upon the imperfection of the democratic system and its defects. The current situation in the financial markets clearly determines the impossibility of the existence not only of the global financial system, but also of the world economy in their previous form. It is not necessary to imagine that the modern political capitalist economic system is capable of correcting the consequences of its global rule. Thanks to God, that it could not destroy the world order at all.

Democratic free competition and an uncontrolled market will never fit into the principle of freedom within the framework of the state’s need. They will rather choke the state itself, than they will get by their “ideals”, for any framework turns out to be close to animal instincts, awakened by greed for gain. Lack of control exists not only in what is not taken into account, but also in the fact that no one is responsible for the economic consequences.

Democracy demonstrates its impotence, its wild conservatism as a political system. The modern state management system no longer corresponds to the current stage of the scientific and economic revolution. Prospects of liberal bourgeois democracy are unenviable, both in resolving the crisis, and in trying to start all over again, trying to take into account the mistakes of the past.

The only solution is to change the system until it explodes. It is a shift from the power of classes to the power of professional institutions, from political parties to professional parties and their factions, and is the basis of the technocratic state of the future. The theorists of democracy and autocracy are sure that it is enough to set a task, and professionals will solve it. It is known that the correctly posed problem is half of the solution, and the incorrectly stated problem is the wrong decision.

The practice of democracy and autocracy shows that when a nonprofessional sets his task, professionals solve it inefficiently, but most likely fail it. In this color and under such conditions, technocracy has the chance to become the basis for a new social order and world order.

Where is the Devil?

The technique began to penetrate intensively into the culture. New terms appeared: “artificial intelligence”, “computerization of education”, “automatic translation”, “machine music”, “artificial intelligentsia”, etc. At the same time, the image of society itself was changing, thinking was deformed. Information began to replace basic knowledge, and mediocre and superficial education — culture and spiritual values. Such a transformation of human intellect testifies to the lack of spirituality and triumph of technocratic thinking.

What is technocratic thinking? This world view, the essential features of which are the dominance of the means over the goal, the private goal over the meaning and universal human interests, the symbol over the being and realities of the modern world, the technique over man and his values.

For the technocracy, there are no categories of morality, conscience, human experience and dignity. An essential feature is the view of man as a trained, programmable component of the system, as an object of a wide variety of manipulations, and not as an individual, for which not only amateur performance, but freedom also is characteristic.

In recent decades, there has been a qualitative evolution in the public consciousness, in its social and philosophical assessments. Solving the global problems of mankind, we must each time, on the one hand, realize that the destructive power of the intellect is now estimated by planetary scales, on the other hand, when characterizing technocratic thinking, we should not lose sight of the meaning of human existence.

Consequently, the main advantage of the progressive educational system should be a humanistic orientation and orientation to universal human values. But gradually progress has turned towards the person, and to the surrounding nature is not a virtue, but scientific and technical predation. A whole generation of people with technocratic thinking has been formed and educated, for whom the main thing is the day-to-day fulfillment of the plan, specific tasks.

Over the years, these people, lost the ability to think in universal human categories, dehumanized, hardened. Hence, land, forests, rivers, lakes, seas are destroyed with such ease, material and spiritual values, culture, morality are destroyed. The danger of technocratic thinking is associated with scientific and technological progress, but is not a consequence of the scientific and technological revolution.

The fact is that the greatest achievements of science in various spheres of human activity were realized by outstanding minds and generated by non-technocratic thinking. However, the excessively rapid dissemination and realization of the results of technocratic thinking observed in recent years led to the fact that as science approached technique, it alienated from human.

Because of all this, the term “scientific and technological progress” did not look at and did not take into account social and humanitarian progress. Scientific and technological progress has become an end in itself, but beyond the concern for social development, it will inevitably become meaningless over time. When introducing any technical means into practice, it is necessary to take into account the human factor, take into account the role and importance of this tool for the subject, to meet the needs and interests of the individual.

Today, technology considers a person only as one of the components of a complex socio-technical system, and not as the most important central link in the most valuable and unique conscious activity. This is just the Devil! Now humankind is excessively involved in the development of its technosphere to the detriment of humanitarian knowledge. This imbalance is catastrophic.

Already there are dangerous experiments with the use of living material as a resource for the development of technological systems. If humanity still treats space, nature and its neighbor as a resource for a certain “competitiveness,” then it risks in the not so distant future run into exactly the same attitude, but already from the techno-generated monsters — negative towards the person cyber systems (including artificial intelligence), turn into slaves of this cyber system or be destroyed by it, this is at best. In the worst case, we are waiting for the eternal technocratic slavery, electronic and technological hell.

In general, utilitarianism and technocracy alienate man from both spiritual reality and physical reality, wholly superseding his activity in the field of a virtual, potential, not yet accomplished. Instead of authenticity and Being, the world includes calculation and existence for the sake of existence.

Coming Noocracy?

The nature of modern civilization, the features of interaction with nature, based on mechanical principles; dictate to human a way of thinking, which is called technocratic. It prevents a person from revealing his spiritual wealth, going beyond the bounds of synthetic limitations, mechanistic thinking.

Technology is seen as a suprasocial, superhuman phenomenon with its own inner logic and its laws of development. When viewed from the outside, the development of technology seems to be a progressive phenomenon, but scientific and technological progress breaks the harmony between material and spiritual forces. This leads inexorably to an imbalance between culture and civilization.

In our time, scientific and technological progress outstrips the social and cultural development of man. The advanced development of technology leads to the techno thesis of society, technology occupies a dominant position over the human community, dictates its will and laws.

The modification of the technology condition in society asserts the consumer attitude towards nature leading to an ecological, moral and spiritual crisis. Universal automation creates a material world of anthropogenic civilization, which leaves the control of man. This world is uncontrollable and aggressive, replaces the world of human values, forming a new type of personality — the type of consumer.

The potential imbalance described earlier can lead to the destruction of human civilization, therefore, as one of the ways out, to avoid such an end; it is quite realistic for a technocratic dictatorship to be in control of the mechanization of civilization.

In this case, noocracy may become a form of such neo-technocratic dictatorship. In fact, this is the power of the intellectual elite with rational thinking, acting as the main guiding force of scientific and technological progress and the social and economic prosperity of society. At the same time, in the perspective of the domination of globalization, noocracy will manifest itself in the form of a balanced collective intelligence (most likely the same Artificial Intelligence) that will be over people and will be the last instance of making balanced decisions.

As far as the technocrats of the future will be able to control this collective intelligence, today it is not possible to predict. However, the fact that the victorious technocrats will give the power to make decisions to the collective intelligence is beyond doubt. What the rest of the non-technocrats caste should make? I think, as always, to adapt, react, survive and take the most useful for our individual evolution. Do not be afraid of future, it is worth living through and gaining experience.

Sergiy Golubyev (Сергей Голубев)

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