Original Research: Technology in Academics

Being digital: A guarantee for or a threat to the future?

Carel S. (Fanie) de Beer
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 35, No 1 | a1397 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v35i1.1397 | © 2016 Carel S. (Fanie) de Beer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 May 2016 | Published: 02 December 2016

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Carel S. (Fanie) de Beer, Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

‘Digital’ in the phrase ‘being digital’ constitutes one of the core terms of our time and offers a guarantee for a better and a more commendable future. The problem is that digitality is based on calculation. Many people argue that calculation on its own can never either create or guarantee a future. Calculation is too limited and has too many boundaries to determine the future and on its own, it can be a threat. Above all, the calculable is as a matter of fact determined by the incalculable. For a realistic expectation of the future, as an essential matter of being human, something more and totally different from mere calculation, and complementary to calculation, is needed in order to expect a future, to dream and fantasise about it, to imagine and invent it. The flip side of calculation, which can equally be referred to as a human capacity, is the issue here. To be more specific: the spiritual ability, the noetic capacity, linked to the Greek term nous is what, together with cyber (calculation, digitality) and cybernetics, carry humans into the future. Guarantees for the future of humankind are to be found in humans themselves and their capacities. This can hardly be anything other than the meaningful, forceful connection that must be worked out between the cyber and the nous, the capacity of calculation and the spiritual capacity of dreamery and imagination. The numeric or digital imagination must be complemented by a narrative or noetic noological imagination. These would be the only capacities that in our times of complete devastation, can free us from fatal and catastrophic madness and can give us hope and courage to invent a future in which care will be abundant.

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