Douglas Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed

In a recent blog post I asked: Does Technology Make Us Smart or Stupid?

At least part of my motivation for asking the question was a result of watching a thought provoking must-see PBS Frontline documentary by Douglas Rushkoff called Digital Nation, which examined many of the pros and cons of the internet and modern technology.

In the video below Douglas Rushkoff goes a step further and argues that within the current technological paradigm one either programs or is being programmed.

While Rushkoff’s argument and its implications are much broader in scope and more sophisticated in meaning than merely referring to computer code, it reminds me strongly of the classic cult sci fi movie Tron.

In Tron there are “programs” and “users.” Since the users wrote (i.e. programmed) the code for the programs, in Tron the users are Gods. The programs, however, are just marionettes.

In Tron, Rushkoff’s argument is perfectly sound: You either program or are programmed!

But what about “real” life?

Is it all just a computer simulation?!

Are we all either “users” or “programs”?

Is it all just a video game?!…

My answer is: Yes, absolutely!

In a sense even in real life, in one way or another, you are either a programmer or are (being) programmed.

Thus the choice indeed is up to each and every one of us: Program or Be Programmed!

I have made my choice.

But what about you? Have you made yours?

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