Over the past year I have been involved in a couple of panels on Ted Kaczynski (aka, the Unabomber -- a serial killer, currently in a supermax prison, who in the 80s and 90s mailed bombs to persons involved with technology). Organized by Jeffrey Young of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the panels involved Dan Skrbina of UM Dearborn providing a partial defense of the Unabomber and me offering a criticism. We’ve done the panel at Rutgers and at SXSW in Austin.
In my view the the "Unabomber manifesto" is a smorgasbord of critical reasoning fails, and you could use it in a critical reasoning course if you wanted to task introductory students with finding basic fallacies in a written work (see my slides here). But I also have a positive thesis which is related to my interest in hacking, but which so far as I know is not advocated by anyone I know in the philosophy of technology.
The Unabomber believes that any post-hunter-gatherer technology is alienating and dehumanizing. But I believe that like bees and beavers and spiders and birds we are technological creatures. In my view, alienation comes not from technology (any more than a beaver can be alienated from its dam or a bird from its nest) but rather comes out when technology is “jailed” and we can’t tear apart the object and see what makes it tick. So it isn’t technology that alienates us, but corporate control of technology – for example Apple, when it makes it difficult for us to reprogram our iPhones.
This is the point where hacking becomes important. Hacking is fundamentally about our having the right and responsibility to open up the technologies of our everyday lives, learn how they work, repurpose those technologies.
Before I start reinventing wheels here, does anyone know of people in the philosophy of technology who have articulated such a view? Beyond that, any comments and criticism?