Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Technology is not neutral but is it our saviour?

According to Prof Gordon’s idea, society is always influenced by technological change. From fire, writing, printing to hand phones, each change greatly changes the way we live. They integrate themselves into our lives, gradually making us dependant on them and incapable of surviving without them. Technologies are not neutral, they are agents of change.

In view of this, no one can adopt the attitude of “I’m just an engineer designing weapons. If the weapons cause many deaths, this is not my problem. It’s the fault of those who uses it.” Scientist working in the field of robotics and aerospace are also indirectly responsible for the potential billions of deaths in the future should their research falls in the wrong hands.

So does that means all research should be halted? All technologies should be thrown away? Should everyone go back to the olden days of Stone Age? Obviously we cannot do that. Without the aid of technology, food cannot be produced in enough quantity to support the whole population, not to mention transportation problems without cars and airplanes.

How about having a status quo? Stop all research; but keep on using what we are using now. However, the main problem with that is that the current rate of polluting the earth and air will contribute to an early end to humanity via global warming. This is one of the main reasons that scientist and engineers do what they do. Progress must go on.

Each scientist may not know the full extent of their research impact; however each person does know that every ounce of their work contributes to help solve the world’s problem. Solar cell research, nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, hydrodynamics, all these help solve the energy crisis. Robotics research, cellular regeneration, genetic engineering, all these help develop better humans, efficient working abilities. Biotechnology can help increase the food supply, nanotechnology help cure cancer; Quantum computers can solve the world’s hardest questions like weather prediction. Even study into the deepest questions of the Universe like time travel or can we travel faster than light is important to access the possibility of colonising other planets and galaxies in a reasonably short time.

All these helps in determining the fate of the world, technologies may not be neutral, but they are the agents of change in this age. And the only way for humans to survive is to rely on skilful means of using the available technologies to solve energy crisis, global warming, hunger, and any other problems that may arise.

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