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Mark Fox, Lane David and Grant Black

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 6 begins with a short history of how beliefs about what law is and what law is for are tied to the dominant myths at different points in time. It then explains how the way lawyers and policymakers talk about technology is tied to our mythological perceptions of what ‘technology’ is. When we talk about the law needing to ‘catch up’ with ‘technology’ or the need to ‘regulate technology’, we do so because we see technology as akin to a mythological magnitude, an entity with the capacity to both save and destroy. In order to create a more effective and rational means of governance, we need to move away from this quasi-personification of technology in law, towards a more fine-grained perspective on particular applications. For such applications to be non-mythological, they would need to promote the notion of self-responsibility through law.

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 7 articulates a vision for a different way of thinking about technology and its governance, one that avoids mythological thinking. It explains how a concept of respectful self-responsibility can change how we think about technology and, in turn, how we engage in political debates, education efforts and technological design. Looking to examples of non-mythological ideas and practices, it sketches a new way to live with technology that preserves our responsibility for ourselves and hence our agency.

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

This book presents an entirely new way of understanding technology, as the successor to the dominant ideologies that have underpinned the thought and practices of the Western world. Like the preceding ideologies of Deity, State and Market, technology displays the features of a modern myth, promising to deal with our existential concerns on condition of our subjection to them. Utilising robust empirical evidence, Lyria Bennett Moses and David Grant argue that the pathway out of this mythological maze is the production of means to establish a new sense of political, corporate and personal self-responsibility.
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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 1 presents the principal argument of the book, that Technology is best understood within the context of a broad historical trajectory. The notion of the trajectory emerges from a critique and elaboration of two elements of major works by Hans Blumenberg: the concept of a modern mythology and the legitimacy of the modern age. This chapter argues that modern mythological magnitudes – Deity, State and Market – have been imagined as archetypally fearsome entities to deal with our existential concerns, and each has an associated regime of practice promoted by a dominant interest and which constitutes at the same time both the subjection of the individual and the empowerment of the magnitude and of those interests. Because of their fearsomeness, the claim is made by respective dominant interests that each magnitude will, on condition of the subjection of individuals, eliminate their existential concerns and deliver sympathetic conditions to them. Technology is the subject of the latest of such systematic claims, in this case that individuals will be empowered to overcome such concerns by being enabled to create the conditions of their own existence, an Absolutism of the Subject. It is argued that the production of a regime of self-responsibility rather than of subjection offers a way out of this mythological maze.

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 2 elaborates the dynamic of the mythological trajectory. It explains how Deity, State and Market were, in turn, each imagined as absolute then slowly engaged to be sympathetic, on condition of individual subjection. It explains how the archetypally fearsome status of each magnitude is degraded by this engagement, leading to the search for a replacement magnitude. By this series, the trajectory has been created. Given the failure of the archetypal Market, the chapter concludes by presenting a detailed explanation of the contemporary emergence of Technology as the means by which the latest element of the trajectory, the idea of the Absolute Subject, is being created.

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 3 provides a further argument in support of the existence and nature of this trajectory by demonstrating that each of the magnitudes has, in turn, subjected science – a traditional companion of technology – as a means to establish its own status. That is, that science itself has been distorted by the serially dominant notions of Deity, State, Market and is now being similarly distorted by the promises of Technology: Technology makes science subject to its mythological imperatives. This argument is also taken as an affirmation that the notion of serial magnitudes, that is, of the trajectory, is robust.

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David Grant and Kenneth Yates

Chapter 4 offers an account of the lessons drawn from a survey of attitudes towards emerging technologies. Broadly, it is clear from this survey that a substantial majority of participants will adopt increasingly intrusive technologies – make themselves subject to technological regimes of practice – so long as assurances are given that these technologies would address their existential concerns, and that they will do so typically without regard for issues of self-responsibility. In addition, participants generally regarded emerging technologies as likely to allow such concerns to be dealt with more effectively than by Deity, State and Market. This, along with the emergence of evidence for an Absolute Subject, is taken as a robust affirmation of the principal arguments put in this work.

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David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

Chapter 5 analyses legislative debates in one jurisdiction (Australia) around particular gene technologies in order to explore the ways in which mythological thinking about Deity, State, Market and Technology can permeate political debates about technology. In particular, it identifies ways in which politicians refer to these technologies in ways that suggest that they will deal conclusively with fears and desires or, alternatively, in ways that suggest that they are sources of fear that need to be constrained. It further sets out some of the ways in which other themes – competition and cooperation among myths, self-responsibility – emerge within the debates. This analysis provides further empirical backing for the conclusions in the book, albeit in in the context of a single jurisdictional case study.