Dystopian Modernity and Technological Determinism

Cypherpunk Guild
3 min readSep 29, 2023

In today’s society, contemplation about technology’s genuine purpose and its societal role seems largely confined to academic discourse, rather than being integrated into the mainstream tech landscape. For many developers and everyday users, there appears to be a prevailing sentiment of technological determinism, a notion that technology, once birthed, evolves autonomously, independent of its human creators. This belief suggests that, once set in motion, technology charts its own destiny, with humanity playing a reactive role. Such a viewpoint paints a somewhat dystopian picture where humans, instead of being the architects, become mere observers in the relentless march of technological progress.

But to claim technology is entirely independent of society is akin to suggesting that a ship sails without a crew. Both science and mathematics, while fundamentally non-social, exist because of human endeavor, interpretation, and interaction. In contrast, technology is borne out of society’s needs, desires, and, sometimes, whims. Every device, platform, or software is a reflection of the zeitgeist of its creation era. The feedback loop between society and its tools is evident in every phase of our history. The printing press did not just disseminate information; it redefined knowledge structures. The internet didn’t just link computers; it shaped new social norms.

Upon closer introspection, the sentiment appears clear-cut, almost bordering on the self-evident. And yet, there pervades a feeling that technology simply “befalls us,” leaving us with little say in its direction or application. Suddenly, we find ourselves navigating digital IDs and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). While these are touted as progress, they don’t necessarily stem from genuine public needs or desires. Thus, the prevailing sense of technological determinism might better be viewed as an indication of our diminishing role in charting our tech-driven future, rather than a true reflection of technology’s inherent trajectory.

Technology becomes an external force, propelling society towards an unknown abyss. The outcome? A dystopia where society’s values, ambitions, and dreams are side-lined by the ‘inevitable’ progress technology dictates. If we don’t want our humanity and our future to be crushed by the tyrant of technological progress we need to refute technological determinism in our thinking, progress is non-linear, and not every new development is a step towards a better outcome. But also, the future should is not just about producing new gadgets and tools, the future should encompass a wholistic vision where technical creations are integrated into the social dimension.

The choice between a deterministic or indeterministic view of technology is not just academic; it shapes our future. To ensure that our tomorrows are not just reactions to technological shifts but are crafted with purpose and intent, we need to embrace the intricate dance of society and its tools. After all, we are not mere spectators in this age of innovation; we are its choreographers.

About Cypherpunk Guild

The Cypherpunk Guild is a group of privacy-minded developers, marketers, and entrepreneurs, jointly collaborating to pioneer a future built around private transactions on NEAR Protocol and the larger crypto-verse. Led by two second-generation Cypherpunks, the Cypherpunk Guild supports the development of private applications on the Open Web, as a means of safeguarding user privacy and freedom.

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Cypherpunk Guild

Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.