The Need for Hybrid IntellectualsThe technology society we now live in is a dangerous and complicated world. There is even an index that symbolizes the complexity of the current world. In the 1830s, U.S. Federal Bank was the most profitable one and had the most branches in the United States. But the main branch of this bank was managed by a mere three workers. At the same period, the total number of public service workers employed by the U.S. legislative, judicial and administrative agencies in Washington was only 665.
Why did the world become complicated? Rapid industrialization is one cause. A great many industrialized nations underwent changes during the last 150 years, transforming from agrarian society, in which 90 percent of the total population were engaged in agriculture, to a society where 90 percent are engaged in industries other than agriculture. Just as the historian Eric J. Hobsbawm pointed out, the 20th century is the one when the peasantry as a major class declined.
Technology is another element that made the world more complicated. Mankind developed electricity, communications, automobiles, express highways, computers, atomic energy and biotechnology. Technology was developed to manage this complex world efficiently, but technology itself formed massive systems and networks, which made the world more complicated. New technology like the Internet was needed to handle the multiplying complexity of the world. Society and technology increased this complexity at an uncontrollable speed.
Bureaucracy was developed as a means to manage the complicated world. The core of bureaucracy is to leave no room for individual objective judgment or feelings by making rules on the decision-making process beforehand.
The vice of bureaucracy is that it provides a cause to evade responsibility. A German government official who was engaged in the Holocaust under the Nazi government justified his actions by insisting that his only crime was supervising the operation of the trains to the death camps efficiently. His logic was that deciding whether the train takes aboard lumber or Jews being sent to their death was beyond his authority.
Today's dangerous society is the result of intricate technology systems and bureaucracy having combined. What experts understand and control is limited to a small part of the world. A complex society, in which total understanding is impossible, does not allow anticipations on when and where accidents might occur.
Technicians and bureaucrats only concentrate on making new technological systems constantly, and when accidents or unpredicted results occur in this process, the straightening out is assigned to different technicians and bureaucrats. Done this way, responsibility disappears and the anxiety of the people increases.
What is required of intellectuals in a dangerous and complicated society?
Most of all, a dangerous society requires intellectuals who are able to understand not only the fractions making up the complex system but also the propriety of the rules and principles connecting each fraction. These intellectuals should make open networks between each other in order to overcome one's own limitations. Joint regiments with intellectuals and those engaged in the production of knowledge should be created through these networks.
The intellectuals of the dangerous society should be cyborgs who utilize the power of technology proficiently. Computer and communication technologies and cybernetics were created to understand and control a complicated society. If these technologies are effectively applied, we can watch over and regulate the operation of power efficiently.
Ability to transcend boundaries and think over correlations, flexible network of these subjects, cooperation between theory and practice － these are the requirements of the "hybrid intellectuals" that society desperately needs.