Ellul’s ‘four propositions’ regarding technical development

A few minutes before I watched last night’s Four Corners story on Facebook, I was reading Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Bluff from 1990, which contains these four propositions:

  • First, all technical progress has its price.
  • Second, at each stage it raises more and greater problems than it solves.
  • Third, its harmful effects are inseparable from its beneficial effects.
  • Fourth, it has a great number of unforeseen effects.

They form a useful summary of the kinds of issues raised, for example, about Facebook in the Four Corners story. Also, it’s a good step on from Foucault’s maxim that ‘it’s not that everything is bad, it’s that everything is dangerous’.

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