“Prohuman art and culture question the value of pat narratives. They produce open-ended stories, without clear victors or well-defined conflicts. Everyone is right; everyone is wrong. The works don’t answer questions; they raise them.” — Douglas Rushkoff in Team Human
Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human is a quick and compelling read about how our technology, our markets, and our major cultural institutions have become embedded with an anti-human agenda, and how to fix this. The book reads like a manifesto and comes packed with catchy quotes (“Engagement through digital media is just a new way of being alone.” “The very purpose of the capitalist operating system is to prevent widespread prosperity.”).
Earlier, I wrote about what a museum for robots may look like. One possibility was that robots would keep museums around merely as a way to entertain the large groups of humans who they have replaced. Rushkoff may concur. Yet he sees another role for museums. In Rushkoff’s analysis, cultural institutions should be places where we rediscover and strengthen our humanity and ability to work together as humans—against robots and the anti-human values that are embedded in them.
Art and culture, in Rushkoff’s world, are at the frontlines of an uphill battle for the future for humanity.
The anti-human agenda
In Team Human, Rushkoff posits that after an initial wave of optimism about the internet, its “tremendous social and intellectual potential was surrendered to short-term market priorities, turning a human-centred medium into a platform for manipulation, surveillance, and extraction.” This has happened with every medium.
The added problem with digital technologies is that they are so pervasive, that they have already begun to change the world. Instead of having technology serve humans, we now serve technology and the values and interests of a tiny group of people that are embedded in them, which are not at all in the benefit of all of us.Continue Reading Read More »