Here's this week's warp and woof.
A 25-year-old guy in Texas, Cody Wilson, designed a printable gun. That shoots. Real bullets. If you haven’t heard, 3D printers are one of the hottest emerging technologies, poised to change manufacturing forever. A 3D printed gun was inevitable—dubbed a “wiki weapon.” The design instructions for the gun are allegedly already available online. Currently, 3D printers cost about $8,000, but Staples will start selling one next month, and that price will eventually drop. What’s more these plastic guns will evade metal detectors at airports and other security checkpoints. Wilson’s motives seem a bit incongruous, but he’s right about one thing: The 3D gun highlights “how technology can render laws and governments all but irrelevant.”
“Q&A: Linda Stone, former tech exec, on conscious computing” from Smart Planet
Here's an interesting interview with a former Microsoft executive. Today she's researching how using computer affects our physiology. She observed that sometimes we hold our breath while using the computer because "The computer becomes animated and we become less animated."
Stone is also asked why she takes "a much more embodied approach" to self-management, instead of outsourcing it to technology. This phrasing caught my attention because I believe in the value of the body, not just the mind or the spirit. However, she concludes that in the next century robotics will allow us to outsource a lot of menial labor and “tap back into what’s unique about the human spirit.” But I would argue that working with our bodies may be just as central to being truly human. How can we really know what to include and what to exclude as we search for “what’s unique about the human spirit?” Stone says, automation will allow us to "connect with what matters and disconnect from the rest." But having the responsibility to decide “what matters” and what doesn't--by what criteria can we decide? This leaves us unmoored from any sense of meaning outside the self.
“The plough and the now” from The Economist
It’s likely that Mark Driscoll’s ancestors used plows. That’s why he believes the woman’s place is in the home. If his ancestors had used hoes, he may have thought differently. At least, that’s the claim of the research covered in this article. Plows required more strength, so men took over. Elsewhere, hoes allowed women to continue cultivating alongside men. The power balance depended on which tools were used. Today, “Women [who] descended from plough-users are less likely to work outside the home, to be elected to parliament or to run businesses than their counterparts in countries at similar levels of development who happen to be descended from hoe-users.” The research attempts to discount the possibility that prior attitudes toward gender influenced the adoption of these tools; this would then support the argument that the tools shaped the attitudes and not the other way around.
“Technology won’t resurrect dead churches” from The Baptist Standard
The headline exaggerates the article’s focus. It broadly reviews a recent technology conference at Baylor University, “iFaith? The Church in the Digital Age.” More accurately, the article reveals the diverse—and sometimes shallow—views that people within the church have of technology.
"Used well, it becomes invisible," said one guy. As I mentioned last week, technology tends to go invisible. The problem with that is when it's invisible, its effects are most powerful and least recognized. Far from giving you more options, technology actually works outside your awareness.
Another guy offered this platitude: “If real death can be launched from cyber-savvy drones, surely real life can be launched from cyber-savvy Christ-followers.” Does anyone even used the term “cyber” anymore?
Mostly, the discussion seems to have surrounded managing and reacting to the effects of technology, and not understanding the dynamics underlying technology.
“Who am I? Data and DNA answer one of life’s big questions” from The Verge
The future of genealogical research is genetics. This in-depth article looks at the technologies developed by Ancestry.com, including new genetic testing available with just a sample of your saliva. “[A] bit further in the future, it’s entirely realistic to believe that those questions of bloodline, like "Who was my great-grandmother?" simply won’t exist.” Soon all the clues to your family heritage will be, well, within spitting distance. Or in today’s parlance, “just a click away.”
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That's the warp and woof of the week. Happy Friday! Tell your mom you love her.