Technology is the exercise of love

wed1oct2008—40w275d75%— 04h42m00s—0utc

David Friedman ELZR introduces a fascinating classification of human cooperation in The Machinery of Freedom ELZR. There’s force (imposing my end on you), trade (“I’ll help you achieve your end if you help me achieve mine”), and love (“making my end your end”).

The definition of love alone is, I think, a great achievement. It surely doesn’t include everything we mean by that impossibly burdened word (it doesn’t mention romance, liking or sex) but it does reveal one of love’s most important yet often implicit threads. It is abstract yet the more likely we are to call a love pure, the more likely it is about A caring about B for B’s sake alone.

An interesting exercise came to mind after reading the classification: What human activity/field corresponds to each kind of human cooperation?

The first two kinds are straightforward loosening words up a bit: Politics is the exercise of force. Economics is the exercise of trade. With love, I stumbled for the longest time. I have an answer now.

The exercise of love is… technology. A tool is the purest embodiment of love, of making someone else’s end your end. That’s why technology is so ambiguous, its ends are its users’ ends. Giving you a tool is the ultimate act of love, the more so the more control of it I give you, because by doing that I make my end your end, whatever your end may be — defending your life or stealing. Think of the geeks that cobbled up the internet, ignoring wtf the thing would be used for, coding only so that it would allow for it.

Don’t dismiss this as one geek’s techno-euphoria. There’s something deep in here. Technology is the exercise of love. “If you want to do good, work on the technology, not on getting power.” Nothing less than the meaning of our lives could be here.

Follow me on Twitter!  |  Back to ELZR.com