An alternative application of telecommunication technology as a feedback mechanism for sociocultural adaptability



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This is an interdisciplinary study concerned with the larger view of problems which presently beset Western civilization. One suggestion is offered for the amelioration of these problems. It is explicitly stated, however, that this proposal does not represent a panacea for all Western ills. Rather, a telecommunication system is proposed based upon the perspective developed in general systems theory, which if adopted would apply telecommunication technology as a sociocultural feedback mechanism, facilitating systems analyses of social problems from which strategies can be developed for the gratification of the needs of the social system and its component systems. The paper begins with a discussion of the concept of progress or development. These are found to be teleological, value-laden concepts. In the twentieth century, social teleology has apparently taken a negative turn, as represented by a shift in the era's image of the future from a positive, utopic vision to a megative, dystopic one. This shift is compounded by modern technological developments, which have made the traditional normative environment of individualism and laissez-faire untenable. The values of social responsibility are found to be necessary due to the exigencies of the modern, technological era. Social evolutionary processes are found to be analogous to natural evolutionary processes. They differ mainly in that the former is teleological while the latter is not. It is suggested that social evolution be directed toward the survival of the sociocultural system and its components in the construction of social teleologies. In order to enhance survival, attention must be paid to human needs. A model of needs is proposed based upon the formulations of general systems theory. Values are found to interact closely with needs, sometimes stimulating the acceptance on the part of systems of pathological, or false, needs. Any assessment of needs must include an assessment of values. Suggestions are made for improvements in the present methods of value mensuration. Two examples of the values of laissez-faire and individualism at work in the formation and formulation of American telecommunication policy are offered. These are found in the debates over the enactment of the Radio Act of 1927 and over H. R. 13015 in the 95th Congress. American telecommunication policy is found to be formulated without a coherent teleological perspective. Based upon the teleological perspective of enhancing the survival of the sociocultural system and its components, established earlier, a proposal is made for the construction and institution of an integrated telecommunication-computation system. Certain proposals are also made concerning the software applications of such a system which would enhance sociocultural survival.