THE DANGER OF TECHNOLOGY

By: Ben H. English

"We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces."

~Carl Sagan

 

Technology, it has been said, is a wonderful thing. It puts our quality of life at a level unknown to any prior generation of Americans, and what was once the stuff of science fiction is now a daily occurrence which we seldom give a second thought to.

Perhaps there lies the Achilles heel of modern society; we do not give it that needed second thought. For it has been also said that technology is a two edged sword, and the pages of history are replete with examples of how technology has been manipulated from its initial purpose. Far too often newly created marvels have been morphed into feared weapons; and utilized in horrendous ways which their initial creators never envisioned.

Those pages of history are still being written, and both edges of that proverbial sword are far keener than ever before. Some seventy years ago, many of our greatest minds lamented upon how the Atomic Age had outstripped our moral codes. One can only imagine what they would think now.

The following article became recent news, but the validity of the concept has been the subject of speculation for some time before. That speculation is now officially over; a small team of dedicated people took a mere pittance of money and a bit of time to confirm the reality of "drone hijacking".

No one should have been surprised. P.W. Singer's eye opening treatise entitled Wired For War (2009) discussed at length the real probability of such events. Yet few have even heard of this book, which is already dated due to the breathtaking leaps forward technology is taking at present.

Consider, if you will, three different items of everyday life; the automatic transmission, the lawn mower, and the refrigerator. How many of us truly understand how these three mechanisms function? Yet each one dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, and are basically little more than primitive (for these days) mechanical devices.

Now consider personal computers, the internet, the cloud, the i-phone, satellite imagery, microwaves, wireless intercepts and yes, drone technology.

Perhaps this is the natural result of a society having far too many lawyers, celebrities and professional politicians while possessing far too few engineers, doctors, mathematicians and technicians of all types. Perhaps because of those misplaced priorities, we will be more than deserving of our possible collective fate.

But when the train does jump the track and plummets into the vast abyss below, ignorance will have nothing to do with being blissful.