TECH BACKLASH: The Darker Side of Technology
Advances in technology are an inevitable constant in our modern lives. A certain percentage of the population, however, does not profit from the results of this technology, usually the poor and needy.
This brings up a prickly subject, are we on this planet to grow in spirit and awareness, or to amass larger and larger pieces of the materialist pie? The fundamental question is: can we really evolve as a species on a path of Keynsian Capitalism, forever feeding the market as if it were a great bonfire, while keeping the primeval beast at bay?
Our cultural faith in religion has to a great extent been taken over by our faith in technology, as the backbone of our society. But what does Nanotechnology, for instance, have to offer to living in a kinder gentler world?
Why do humans want to eradicate each other? I often seriously have doubts about our future, a future that, certainly can not be saved by technology alone. Human nature is as primitive and cruel as we were at the dawn of time; now we just speak more eloquently. So, if we are going to put all our energy into the expansion of technology, let us not try to fool anyone about our pretenses in regards to saving the world.
There must be a paradigm shift in human consciousness that I do not think we are ready to tackle. Instead, that house in the Hamptons doesnt look bad, and I really would feel better about myself if I drove a new BMW luxury sedan. Another concern about the promise of Nanotechnology in the near future is its feasibility. Exhaustive research on a self-sufficient Biosphere program, and its utter and complete failure, taught us some humility about the intricacies of ouown natural Biosphere. Mother Nature offers it to us free of charge, we only have to take care of it. So far, we have done a pretty miserable job.
That is not to say that we shouldnt try to improve technology, I think it helps us grow as a human community, forever trying to improve our understanding of our world. Integrity of purpose is the hard goal to keep in mind, when only the wealthy industries that finance these projects get their personal needs met. They are not necessarily beholden to anyone but their stockholders, much less the betterment of society, unless a buck can be made on it. We need big industry, but we also need enlightened government regulation as well.
It is unfailingly amazing to me, although, how much of the time the market, no longer Adam Smiths market, continues to normalize the behavior of power hungry individuals. Decentralization is a good thing, allowing the spread of influenceto come from self-actualized individuals to affect the market place. Because of this new phenomenon, seen radically through the Internet, we as citizens should strive to be included in the drafting of the ethical guidelinesof Nanotechnology research. This could be the beginning of a paradigm shift we cannot yet see. A shared responsibility in making our future a better place. It is a tall order, I know. We cannot wait for the lottery to come through or that 80 million dollar lawsuit to arrive at our doorstop, because we were too ignorant to realize that smoking is hazardous to our health. We must live from personal strength, and out of that, be willing to help our larger world. I think that is what Maslow had in mind with his idea of self-actualization, or Nietzsche, with his Übermensch, the heroic mastery of self-expression.
These attributes cannot be improved by more or better technology, they must come from within, from our own spiritual architecture. The lure of technology is strong, and for good reason, from the Middle Ages it has marched along on an unswerving course, providing us with much of what we define as good in our modern society. It also has the nasty reputation of making our lives excessively hectic and complicated. Nanotechnology will be no different in this respect. The research pioneers who promise to improve our health, environment, and whatever else they can think up, will inevitably run into unforeseen drawbacks, maybe even cause disasters. That is why we as a society need to be involved from the start, to help balance the directives and decide if they are well intentioned.
The age old fundamental flaw cannot continue to be repeated; the rationalization that the public needs to be treated on the level of an eight year old. The sooner people of influence in government, advertising, and the scientific community stop doing this, the sooner the public can grow up. Maybe they dont want to, I personally wonder, but we must try. The excuse that the public will not understand is no longer valid, it just means that communication needs to improve. Obviously, the public cannot understand the specifics and depth that come from years of research, but the message can be decoded to allow participation by all with an interest.
The specialization of society is an alienating experience for both the perpetrator and the recipient. It must be bridged at all costs, or we shall resurrect the Tower of Babel in short order. The challenges of the 21st century, to me, are the melding of the wonderful advances of technology with making a better world for all of us to live, instead of proving how we can blow up civilians with misguided smart bombs under the guise of freedom for the individual.