Monday, March 02, 2009

Technology, development, and other blasphemies

Armageddon, the movie. It was about a huge asteroid coming towards Earth and the Americans sending people that landed on it and blew it apart. Veeery dramatic (and discriminating, having in mind the way that the Russian guy on Mir was portrayed).

Anyway, I was thinking. It illustrates how technology helps our species survive. True, it was just a movie, but the principle is the same - technology makes it possible for people endure the vagaries of nature, the more developed the technology, the more helpful. Primitive clothes or weapons made life warmer and more full of food. Modern clothes, buildings, cars, or fertilizers make life even more warn and full of food. Not to mention that modern space engineering can make human existence protected even against giant rocks flying through space, it's simply a matter of money to make an armadillo or something similar.
If it weren't for the debris, I guess the US militaries may had even aimed ICBM's at the thing, lol

The big point here is that the way that technology, gadgets and gizmos and science, help humans survive and make human life easier, fulfills the biological purpose of our species. When we use and develop technology, we work for our survival - we are doing the right thing.

In our modern world, we can see many negative effects of technology. We can see global warming, pollution, or 1984-style surveillance. Yes, that is technology, but No, that is not a reason to stop its creation and improvement.

It is not about what it can do, but what people actually use it for. Think about nuclear energy. The same thing that wiped out Hiroshima and Nagasaki now gives the French most of their electricity. Biochemistry and sophisticated laboratories may allow people to make biological weapons (think about Resident Evil and the T-virus), but with that knowledge we can also make a little virus that helps the human body somehow, say, by dissolving clumps of cholesterol in the blood vessels. It ALL depends - controversies and dilemmas and questions and protests - on how we use it.

At which point, people start asking the question "Are we ready for it?"/"Are we mature enough for such toys?"/"Does mankind possess the wisdom to control things like biological weapons or nuclear energy or such powerful communication technology (Facebook included)?" When a normal person reflects back to the 20th century, s/he is most likely to conclude "no." This is perfectly logical - after all, some of the machinery and chemistry that science has given man have proven disastrous for our home, Terra. Things can't go on like this any longer. For heaven's sake, stop! Quit that researching job of yours in General Motors, Jake, and come pray at our local evangelical anabaptist of the seventh-and-a-half-day antipresbytarian church, where you won't harm the planet any longer.

This is the wrong option, the less progressive one. This is destructive, pessimistic and, worst of all, not progressive. The better, more progressive and more suitable for the fulfillment of the biological purpose option is still making fancy stuff, but not using it for evil. People nowadays seem to have problems understanding this. Maybe it's the consumerist society, it makes them think that individuals will always pursue their personal gain, even if it is harmful for others. Things would be much better if everybody was aware that "good" is that, which most contributes to the fulfillment of the biological purpose, and that the context and the most complete prediction of the consequences determines which is the best option.

For example, if a girl wanted to become a prostitute, it would be less moral than if she continued her education, because an educated person is more beneficial for a society than a moron. However, if she needed the money for her sick relative, who had some invention in mind but not the means to make it available to the others, it would be more moral than staying in school (assuming that she is old and is quitting school in one or two years anyway: I'm trying not to make it paedoph... nevermind, haha)
However, if the invention this guy was making was some sort of weapon, going for prostitution would be largely immoral.
However, if the invention was needed by some organization that was trying to assassinate the current totalitarian leader of the country and the weapon was some super-accurate sniper or something that could do the trick - then the scales are turning back to the moral side.
Et cetera ceteraque.
Context is pretty much everything and it is up to our powers of reasoning to figure out which is the best option.

P.s. Longer than I expected. Well, I was reflecting... analyzing how much tl;dr text I poured a few months ago. I thought that it needed clarification. So, here it is.