Lesson 13: The Loss of Culture

When I started this series, I was still determining exactly where I was going. Then, I was supplied with an example every week that led the way. Last Tuesday, it was the ad introducing Apple’s new iPad Pro. It was immediately withdrawn when people objected to its content. However, I think it accurately conveyed how technology is understood by many in the industry and society.

The ad showed a hydraulic press crushing a trumpet, a piano, a banjo, a considerable quantity of paints, and a large stack of books. From the destruction, a new iPad Pro emerged to the tune of “All I Ever Need Is You.” The aim of the Apple corporation and the ad agency was clearly to show that this new powerful iPad could do all that the tools of the arts had done in the past. People perceived it, however, as a picture of technology crushing creativity.

That perception frightens many who sense that is precisely what is taking place. Science and technology are not complementing the humanities and arts but steadily replacing them. The ad was offensive because it seemed to endorse reducing the role of the culture that has enriched our lives beyond work. It implied listening to music on a machine was just as good as attending a live performance. We only need a few talented artists who can record for us all. And for goodness sake, forget about playing an instrument yourself.

But I think the negative response also reflected the dis-ease many endure as science and technology challenge the larger understanding of culture that sees it providing ethical and spiritual guidance for a community. It supplies a canon for what the community has regarded as true, good, and beautiful.

People are very uneasy that past cultural values are regarded as irrelevant in our modern world, where all knowledge is relegated primarily to science. Ethical and spiritual matters are increasingly confined to personal opinions instead of community standards.

The idea that every individual must invent for him or herself the equivalent of a culture is overwhelming. It has led to a frantic search for certainty. You see this in the Fundamentalist and Pentecostal movements in the Christian church and the sect-like following of charismatic leaders in politics. It is also reflected in political activities designed entirely for efficiently getting your own way, which in our world allows genocide and unregulated business.

The response to the Apple ad was promising, as it pushed back against a serious problem. We certainly want to acknowledge all the wonderful gifts provided by modern science and technology, but we also want to refuse to make them idols that provide all we need.

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2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Kerry says:


  2. Eileen M says:

    Technology’s advances may encourage us to embrace the physical and emotional aspects of those close to us. If we are suspicious of AI, we might reach out to family and friends in truly meaningful conversations and hugs.


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