“Certain esoteric rites” for The Ethnographer
19 hours ago
A transparent technology is a technology that is so well fitted to, and integrated with, our own lives, biological capacities, and projects as to become (as Mark Weiser and Donald Norman have both stressed) almost invisible in use. An opaque technology, by contrast, is one that keeps tripping the user up, requires skills and capacities that do not come naturally to the biological organisim, and thus remains the focus of attenion even during routine problem-solving activity. (37)
The robot in science fiction was portrayed at first as an alien and as a threat, but the danger was perceived as primarily an economic one--apart, that is, from the theological danger. The robot may drive us from our jobs and otherwise destroy our economic well being, it was felt; it may even threaten to destroy the world as we know it; it may endanger our collective soul. But we have never believed it would dishonour or corrupt us, something we have always assumed that our aliens wanted most of all to do. Perhaps not surprisingly then we seem to be able to live with whatever threat, economic or theological, the robots represent; we do not exhibit horror or revulsion, or even very much trepidation.