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Turn it off, OnStar! That's Sen. Chuck Schumer's message to the automotive GPS service, which announced it's automatically tracking where ex-customers go, how fast they drive and even if they and their passengers wear seat belts.
Schumer is calling on OnStar honcho Linda Marshall to end the new practice, which the company announced last week, of keeping watch on former customers unless they explicitly opt out.
Postman has emerged in recent years as one of America's most eloquent and outspoken critics of technology and in this book he elaborates on themes that will be familiar to readers of his earlier books, most notably Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985). Here Postman contends that "the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without moral foundation," and reorders our fundamental assumptions about the world at large. New technologies alter our understanding of what is real, "which is another way of saying that embedded in every tool is an ideological bias, a predisposition to construct the world as one thing rather than another."
One of the most ominous consequences of Technopoly, according to Postman, is the explosion of context-free information. "The milieu in which Technopoly flourishes is one in which the tie between information and human purpose has been severed, i.e., information appears indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, in enormous volume and at high speeds, and disconnected from theory, meaning, or purpose." The "information glut" leads to the breakdown of a coherent cultural narrative, he argues, for without a meaningful context, information is not only useless, but potentially dangerous. He cites the old saying that, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and therefore, "to a man with a computer, everything looks like data."