High-Hume and a Place for a Humanities-Minded Person in the Technological Society
24.07.2016

- Modern society is a high-technology society, which includes so called High-Hume. How would you define this term?

 - High-Hume and High-Tech have appeared because the world and the human have become increasingly complicated. Both types of technologies are the main mechanisms of novation and development that lead to civilizational gain. They also have another common characteristic, which is ambivalence or inconsistency. It requires specific attention because the consequences of implication of any technology  may be both positive and negative for the society.  That depends on values and goals of those who develop and use those technologies. Therefore, High-Tech does not necessarily mean smart cities and robotic nurses, but also refers to technical devices for illegal surveillance and technologies for preventive strikes. And High-Hume does not necessarily help to develop personal and professional skills, but also provides with techniques aimed at manipulating mass and personal consciousness and subconsciousness. All that explains why there is no single definition for all high technologies. 

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However, this time we will try to concentrate on High-Hume from the point of humanistic psychology, which studies the human as a whole object and considers all their manifestation: experiencing love and creativity, freedom and responsibility, and enjoying the environment and interpersonal communication. In this regard, High-Hume is humanistic technologies that have open goals and dialogical essence, focused on self-development and self-actualization of human beings, regarding their complex nature and multi-dimensional inner world. For example, those are technologies of building an organizational environment based on an inner motivation. Such inner motivation may refer to an interest in a profession, desire to work in a creative environment, need for working in a team or alone, and so on. Simply saying, it refers to building an environment in   which people work with interest, therefore, more productively. Major IT companies use High-Hume technologies. Google offices are spaces to work and live in at the same time.  Because work is a part of life. On one hand, strict rules of business are applied there: terms of reference, deadlines, and quality are vitally important. On the other hand, they provide with flexible and comfortable environment that stimulates employees to work efficiently and achieve bold goals. 

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- Today many people claim that humanities are in crisis. Do you agree with that? 

- People started talking about that in the middle of the 20th century. We can argue a lot about its origins, forms of appearance, and consequences. But would not it be more reasonable to talk about the crisis in social and humanistic practices, not in social and humanistic studies? Philosophy, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, philology, communicative studies, and other disciplines of social and humanistic areas are not frozen. Each of them can present serious achievements. The question is whether the society is ready to use them all. High–Hume is an example of how manipulative technologies have become more popular than humanistic ones. There is a lot of PR in the world but not a lot of real communication with the public. Any employer is still more comfortable with developing their relations with the staff taking into consideration their external motivation, such as fear of being fired, fines, and so on. Those are not the problems of science. Or not entirely. 

- What factors helped to keep the balance between human and technological in the 19th century? 

- The balance was kept not only in the 19th century. Humanity survived before that as well.  Russian researcher Akop Nazaretyan developed a model of techno-humanitarian balance that describes the dependence between human activity, anthropomorphic crises, social disasters, and social and historical progress. It represents the idea that development of technologies increases external stability of the society, but at the same time increases the sense of unlimited power and impunity. The higher the power of production and war technologies, the more advanced behavior-regulation means is required to enable self-preservation of the society. The more resources the society has and the longer the society does not get a negative feedback from the environment,  the more sustained the patterns of behavior are and the fewer chances there are to solve the crisis. As a result, social violence grows and natural environment gets destroyed.  The society becomes more and more dependent on mood swings of the public and on decisions made by the leaders. Inner sustainability becomes weak. It can be restored only if technological achievements are compensated by cultural and psychological factors, such as laws, morality, traditions, patterns of behavior, and so on. Otherwise, professor Nazaretyan claims,  the society destroys natural and geopolitical grounds of its own existence and becomes a victim of its own decompensated power. It may be concluded that the higher the power of production and military technologies is, the better means of deterrence against aggression are needed in order to save the society.  

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- Do you think that the lack of breakthroughs in non-technological areas may be explained by their low commercialization capacity? Is there a possibility to reduce the gap?  

- The statement that there is a lack of breakthroughs in non-technological areas is debatable. If we talk about revolution in science (meaning switch in paradigms, types of thinking, and major theories), then natural and engineering sciences show more visible results because for a long time those areas were mono-paradigm. In other words, humanity lived in a world described by Isaac Newton for 200 years. Therefore, people could not help noticing the revolutionary theory of relativity proposed by Albert Einstein, which completely changed the perception of time and space.  Humanities have been represented by poly-paradigm sciences with diverse concepts. Here new paradigms do not come to replace the old ones. That is why breakthroughs do not go on record.

If we talk about revolution as presentation of new – revolutionary – technologies, then High-Hume may be a good example. In fact, they have very high commercialization capacity. Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, was on the list of hundred most powerful  Americans of the 20th century for commercialization of his uncle’s ideas. Biggest American companies owe him their success. 

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Another thing is that Bernays used High-Hume technologies to influence mass consciousness and to manipulate it. But if we consider the High-Hume from the positions of humanistic psychology, commercialization should not be the major goal. It may accompany other processes.

Nowadays, real breakthroughs may occur only cross-disciplinarily, across natural, social, and engineering disciplines. By the way, professor Nazaretyan’s theory is a good example of such trans-disciplinary approach. It was a product of integrated knowledge in social psychology, anthropology, social philosophy, sociology, history, political studies, ecology, and synergetics. Vladimir Vernadskiy’s predictions come true: science is being built around problems, not around disciplines. So if there are gaps, they do not exist in science, they exist because people cannot always see how complex certain problems are. 

- Does the humanity have a chance to get back the balance it used to have before the robotic society covers everything we have as humans? 

It is more about creating a new balance. People produce robots. Until it goes the other way around, there is a balance. 

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But of course the crisis has started. The goal of the High-Hume is to develop and maintain techno-humanitarian balance. In order not to become a robotic society, most people should realize that the expression “beauty will save the world” is not just a literary and philosophical utopia, but a very pragmatic strategy of surviving. If by beauty we understand, among the rest, forms of self-actualization of people. That is what will distinguish people from even the most advanced robots. 

- What place does a humanities-minded person occupy in the technological society and what place will they occupy in the future? 

- It is clear that any technological novation must go through a technological expertise and through a social one as well in order to figure out its potential negative influence on people. However, technocrats do not want to share their glory with humanities-minded people so far. But they will have to do it eventually if they do not want the Late Bronze Age collapse to repeat and the humanity to start everything all over again. History does teach us something if despite the growing amount of war technologies the coefficient of war victims remains. I want to believe that the demand on practices that preserve and develop human features in humans will grow. Only a human with feelings and thoughts can use technologies in their favor.  The goal of universities is to develop subjectness and responsibility for the decisions, no matter what major is regarded – engineering or humanities. 

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