Impact of Science and Technology on Society: Robin Hanson and Stephen Colbert

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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The Pervasiveness of Technology in Modern Society

Our lives cannot be separated from technology; in today’s world, every person is very much indulging in technology, and therefore the demand for it keeps on rising. We use technology for almost everything, like traveling, learning, communicating, doing business, and even living in comfort. But as we know, everything has its pros and cons, and so does technology; it has also caused us concerns. The biggest challenge facing people is to determine the type of future we need to have and then create relevant technologies which will simplify the way we do things.

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There are many authors talking about technology-related issues, like Robin Hanson and Stephen Colbert. The text “What would happen if we upload our Brains to Computers” by Robin Hanson and “The Scarping Of Internet Privacy: Something We Can All Hate Together” by Stephen Colbert both of them talk about technology but in different directions.

Embracing the Future: Robin Hanson’s Vision of Brain Uploads

Robin Hanson tried pursuing the audience in the direction of what would happen if we get more involved with technology; on the other hand, Stephen Colbert was talking about how minimal we should depend on technology when it comes to privacy. Due to the way, Robin Hanson uses rhetorical strategies in his video “What would happen if we upload our brains to computers,” his arguments were more appropriate in touching the audience.

The first video was about “What would happen if we upload our brains to computers,” by Robin Hanson. He is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University. Some people also say that Robin has strange ideas; he is clearly not a man afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. He writes a blog in which he presses readers to consider which cultural taboos, ideological beliefs, or misaligned incentives might constrain them from making optical decisions. He has also written book names such as “The Age of Em.” It explores the implications of the world. The book’s main scenario proposes that about a hundred years from now, human brains will be scanned at ‘fine enough spatial and chemical resolution’ and combined with rough models of signal-processing functions of brain cells ‘to create a cell-by-cell dynamically executable model of the full brain in artificial hardware, a model whose signal input-output behavior is usefully close to that of the original brain. The genre of this text is an online video on you-tube that tries to bring attention to possibly upcoming technology.

The audience will be who have ever attended the TED conference and who so ever will be watching the you-tube video. The purpose of it was to spread awareness amongst people as to what new ideas and new technologies are out there and how we could use them for our own mankind’s benefit. Machines that emulate human brains and can think, feel, and work just like the brains they’re copied from. Economist and social scientist Robin Hanson describe a possible future when ems take over the global economy, running on superfast computers and copying themselves to multitask, leaving humans with only one choice: to retire forever. Glimpse a strange future as Hanson describes what could happen if robots ruled the earth.

In the first video, the writer Robin Hanson, used a lot of rhetorical strategies, which is a technique used by an author or speaker to convey to the listener or reader a meaning with the goal of persuading them to consider a topic from a different perspective, using sentences provides to encourage or provoke an emotional display of a given action; such as logos, pathos, and ethos. The rhetorical appeal logos, which is “the appeal to logic means to convince an audience by use of logic or reason,” is used by stating comparison examples between the way a human does their task and the way ems does there, and how can ems modify and make self-copies of themselves to complete their task.

The rhetorical appeal pathos, which is “the emotional appeal, means to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions,” is used by Hanson when he was telling people how we people can go on vacation if this ems became common and more useable, and how relaxed we would feel like. The rhetorical appeal ethos, which is “the ethical appeal, means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character,” is used when Robin was explaining to people how ems speed can be way faster than the speed of the brain and, at the same time, it can be way slower than that of the brain as well and how they can replicate themselves to complete an assigned task on time, and after doing the task the replica dies. The other technique that has been used is Robin’s marketing techniques; at the end of his speech, he asked people to read his book “Life of Em,” which describes more about how ems work and everything; it felt like that was his way of increasing his book sales.

Caution in the Digital Age: Stephen Colbert on Internet Privacy

In the second text, “The Scarping Of Internet Privacy: Something We Can All Hate Together “by Stephen Colbert, he talks about how these internet companies sell our browsing history to hackers and to other people and how congressmen reacted to it. He is an American comedian, writer, producer, actor, and television host. He has hosted many programs; a few of their names are The Colbert Report (which is considered his best work) and the late show. He originally wanted to be a dramatic actor but became more interested in improvisational theatre. He has done many films also. He has been on television since 1993. The genre of this peace is political/ new satire.

The target audience is who so ever attended the show when they were hosting this particular episode and who so ever will be watching that video online. The purpose of this video is to spread awareness to people as to how these internet companies sell our personal history information to other hackers and other people, how on our personal level, we should be careful about what we are seeing, and how we can prevent from our personal information from going into wrong hands. The situation for making a video on this issue is many people are unaware of internet companies leaking our browsing history information; even after we delete it, it is still there with the company, and they sell it for money. So, people should know about the companies they are blindly trusting, and they need to be more aware before browsing and/or clicking on random links that pop up on their screens.

In the second text, the writer Stephan Colbert used a lot of rhetorical strategies, such as logos, pathos, and ethos. The rhetorical appeal logos are used by Stephan when he tells people that by accessing other people to share their browsing information, they might blackmail us afterward with the things we search for and how everyone or people whose existence we are unaware of how will know about us. The rhetorical appeal of pathos is used by Stephen when he told people how even the government gave green signals to companies to sell histories, and now, as users, we have to be more careful with what we will be looking for on the internet and how we should start clearing our history and because of this insecurity he burned his computer. The rhetorical appeal ethos is used when Stephen started his show by asking people how many of them use the internet, and almost everyone sitting there said yes, and then he told people how Congress cleared the way for the internet providers to sell your browsing web history. And we feel that there are no other techniques used in this video.

Weighing the Impact of Science and Technology on Society

In both texts discussed above, the writers are trying to convey their audience regarding technologies, but in different ways. According to Robin, as we are evolving more and more, we should be evolving in terms of technologies as well; we should give chance to technology to do all of our work, even we should try uploading our brains to computer and see how fast this world will go in the direction of development whereas Stephan thinks the other way, he thinks that technology is good, it is making our life easier and even connecting us to people around the world through different social media platforms which would not have happened otherwise but, it is also leaking our private information and our pictures which we share to other people through all these social network platforms. These internet companies are selling our information for money, which is not good as our private life is not that private anymore. There is some random person who knows stuff about us.

Despite the way both the authors think technology has persuaded us, and whether it’s a blessing or a curse for us, Robin Hanson really did great in connecting to his audience rhetorically. He was more likely to pursue the audience than Stephan. After a certain time, Stephan diverted his focus from the main issue he was talking about, but Robin’s arguments were more ethical and were even given the proper support needed to persuade his audience.

Work citation:

  1. Robin Hanson online text:
  2. Stephan Colbert online text:
  3. Online text regarding the impact of technology on society:
  4. NDSU student, rhetorical analysis work, provided in class
  5. Wikipedia : ,,
  6. Random site for pathos, logos, and ethos definition:
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Impact of Science and Technology on Society: Robin Hanson and Stephen Colbert. (2023, Aug 21). Retrieved from