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    Bob O'Hara said:

    The challengers: the digital computer and the artificial fertiliser. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the computer won by a margin of 3-to-1. Why was this result not surprising?

    Perhaps because people are more familiar with computers, and can see their effects?

    Yet, the computer won – even though its development has tracked and in some cases amplified, global class divisions.

    Even though? If anything, I would have thought that would make it more likely. The people who can see the benefit of fertiliser will mainly be farmers, not the sort who usually reads <i>The Economist</i>. The sort who do are the higher educated – the sort who use computers, and who (on average) benefit from widening class divisions.

    If we identify people’s preferences with what they do rather than what they say, it would seem that beyond a certain point, people would prefer to forgo security in favour of the freedom (and risk) to explore alternative possible modes of existence

    I’m not sure what you mean. Or why that wouldn’t imply that lots of people spend a lot of time "explor[ing] alternative possible modes of existence" by joining communes or moving to foreign cultures. Very few actually do that, though.

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    Kausik Datta said:

    A computer is a contrivance designed to make certain tasks easier, and seen in a broader light, computers (or more precisely, computer-based technologies) aid human beings in their eternal quest to learn and discover. That is all there is to it.

    Philosophizing about computers and technology – a particularly egregious example of an exercise in omphaloskepsis – is pointless at best, and fraught with inherent dangers at worst, because it detracts from the said quest and focuses instead on a single component, enhancement. 

    Would you philosophize about increasing use of computer-based technologies in, say, automobiles, or hospital equipment?

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