When Science and Technology does more Harm than Good

There are many reasons to fear technology. Everyday we abuse the environment to create new tools, new tools allow us to live longer and in better health. Longer lives mean we need more food to feed the surplus population and the world groans under the weight of mankind’s abuse. Technology is not the culprit. Society has let business become the motivation for innovation. This focus, this idea that we can build for profit, means that we have removed the social responsibility from technological advancement and this breeds our fears.

When people say they fear the way technology is advancing they often mean they disapprove of the way it is being implemented. We look around and see chemical waste and we blame the mills. We look around and see clear cut logging and we blame the foresters. We look around and see the dead oceans, the extinct animal species, the gas-guzzling cars and we blame technology.

Technology is a savior to many with mobility difficulties, with medical disorders and with learning disabilities. Technology could bring water to the desert and put an end to hunger (if there were any profit in it) but we allow business to move our society and so projects that are expensive, that have “low returns” are never attempted even if it would improve the lives of thousands or millions of people. Clean fuels are never developed because there is so much profit to be had from oil, gas and coal. Intelligent use of resources takes a back seat to market requirements and rain forests are destroyed to make cattle pastures.

If we fear the direction technology is going we are saying that we fear ourselves. If we are to move ahead and not kill ourselves off in an ozone burned, drought ridden wasteland. If we aren’t going to live, billions upon billions packed into less and less land surrounded by rising oceans and receding ice caps, If we are going to find a sustainable method of food production then we are going to need to take responsibility for our inventions. We will need to develop a social mandate for new innovation. Most importantly perhaps, we need to stop fearing technological advancement force businesses to take a more socially responsible role in its deployment.

Start now by choosing your food more carefully. Buy less packaged food and more organically grown food. Choose with your wallet as this is the only weapon available against the businesses that are belching out the pesticides and green house gasses. Buy fair trade coffee and flowers, buy whole foods, drive less often and turn down the heat in your house.

Technology can only be used. It has no life of its own. We decide how it is implemented and we need to start making better choices.