Matthew Paul Foster
This is what I think a cyborg is,
so I'm put off by your embracing the symbiosis of man and machine. If one watches or reads even a little bit about the non-benign use of technology, (both the proposed use and the already existing use), I believe one would have difficulty maintaining a love-affair with gadgetry. (That doesn't mean I am a Luddite, but I focus on how the other side is going to use the technology. For example, carboncapturereport.org. or web analytics people enthusing about data capture tools)
The exact same robotics news item above was watched by a 17 yr old. He is enthusiastic about the building and use of these things. And he is being recruited into the military, via a program which was ostensibly about the thrill of engineering and robotics.
This makes me think that, in a "conversation" (and I'm not sure this is one) about what is broken in activism, we need to be careful to identify what may be generational influences on our idea of utopias vs dystopias.
For example I think we're about the same age Hamish, and I "hear", perhaps incorrectly because we haven't met, shades of hippy in you. ( I like shades of hippy). "Hippy-ness" brings a certain gentleness to the examination of trust issues, online and offline. Even if "hippy" is an incorrect thing I am attributing to you, ( apologies), what I am saying is that age difference matters, because it entails a cultural difference tied to that age . For example, I doubt very much that anyone of our age could say this: "I don't really know what right and left mean" referring to politics. Could one have been alive in the 1980's and not learned a rough outline? Yet I heard that fascinating statement from someone in the cohort down in age from me, and I stress that person is NOT unengaged in the issues around them in the world.
Those two people I describe as examples make me think that there may be a problem not just with geek talk being a divider between activists and their potential audience. There may also be a problem up and down the generations. Young enthusiast for technology is co-opted into the military before he is old enough to have acquired any political colouration? Apolitical activist.....who is unaware of historical and political precedents? (Including Assange in Cypherpunks, where he appears to think that the mills as a work environment preceded feudalism).