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Time sees it…the student of philosophy

Time sees it…the student of philosophy

The washing machine, the car, the fax machine, the cell phone… and now artificial intelligence. All these wonderful technological developments should, in principle, save us a lot of time. so what ?


“In theory, it is true that technology can free us from some painful tasks,” says Mario Ionos Maruchan, a doctoral student in political philosophy at the University of Montreal, who has joined Paris where he is continuing his studies. “But what do we do with this free time? There are always more and more things to do.”

The student cites the work of German philosopher Hartmut Rosa, who studied the phenomenon of “social acceleration,” a concept at whose core lies the need to do more things in less time. The stronger the acceleration, the more scarce a commodity time becomes, and the greater the stress it causes.

But “contrary to the widely held hypothesis, technology is not in itself a cause of social acceleration,” Rosa writes in her work (especially Acceleration – a social critique of time, published in 2013). In the industrial age, as in the digital age, technological revolutions have always aimed to respond to the problem of time constraints.

Rosa points out that “technical” acceleration (i.e. the increase in output per unit time, e.g. the increase in the number of kilometers traveled in so many minutes, the number of bytes downloaded per second, the number of clothes washed in one load) should, in principle , that leads to an increase in free time. If an individual has more free time, the pace of his life slows down and stress decreases.

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However, this is not the case. Why ? Because the number of tasks to be completed is increasing at the rate of technical acceleration, and even exceeding that. If your task was to process 10 emails in 2 hours in the 1990s, you will be able to process 50 emails in 2024 using email. But you still have to devote two hours a day to it, or even much more.

So the gain in free time is…zero? If you're not careful, this happens.

What does Hartmut Rosa suggest to reconsider our relationship with time? The philosopher does not so much advocate “slowing down” or a way of “doing less”, but rather the concept of “resonance” or a way of “doing better”, as Mario Iono Marucán explains.

Resonance, according to Rosa, is being aware of our surroundings, feeling the noise, walking in the woods, and paying attention to nature. “It is a relationship with time that is not as revolutionary as the relationship with hysteresis,” the student says. “A slowdown,” and even “degrowth,” says Mr. Maruchan, “could lead to a political revolution that not everyone is ready for…”