Life with technology

Have you seen this?

The Future is Ours from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.

Technology has brought a lot of evils; the atomic bomb, globalization, ease of predation for pedophiles, global warming and reality television. And a lot of people want to focus on those only and convince everyone to give up on technology.

There’s a tendency in people to look back and think everything was better before. Before all this newfangled technology, before our morals and values entrophied, just… before. That nebulous “before” tends to always correspond either with the youth of the person talking or the youth of his/her parents. The thing is that that rosy past never existed as the people waxing poetic about “before” think they did.

Let’s take the 1950’s, a period when music was good, men were men and women had great big vanities to weep in front of (that’s a reference to Dylan Moran by the way. Can’t for the life of me find the clip though). Except that the actual makers of the pop music never got credit because they were black. Everyone had many debilitating diseases like polio that caused babies to be born deaf and children to lose the ability to walk. And women, well women had a lot to weep about. 90% of rapes were perfectly legal, divorcing your abusive husband almost impossible and even if you did manage to get a divorce, you couldn’t actually support yourself because finding work was hard and even if you managed to find some you got paid a lot less than a male in a similar position. Not that a male would ever stoop to doing such work. And the men… well, I’m not entirely convinced the deal was that sweet to them either. Growing distant from your family has to be hard on anyone and finding your own child a stranger even harder.

All through human history technology has been an equalizing force influencing our behavior and the way we see the world. Fire and primitive weapons equalized our station with other predators as well as the bigger prey such as moose. There’s so much technology that allows us to live longer, work longer and simply enjoy life longer starting from vaccinations and other medicine to computers in their different forms. When we can communicate instantly with people across the world it’s not as easy to simply say “all those people over there are X”. People who have never heard a sound can nonetheless start hearing with the aid of technology. People who shouldn’t be able to move for paralysis or the disease wracking their body can nonetheless live satisfying lives because of things that other people invented and made. All of this technology gives people more chances to live the way they want, not the way nature demands of them. We have gone to a heavenly body. Think about that. Humans have walked on the surface of the moon because someone said we should. Just this Monday (Finland time) millions of people watched an SUV sized mobile, more-or-less automated science-lab land on Mars. And 14 minutes after touchdown on Mars (freaking MARS!) the images were shared all over the world and I know for a fact that at least one person on every continent was crying with sheer joy.

Science and technology are a Pandora’s box: you can shut the lid once it’s opened but you can’t put the things that came out back in. The question is; why would you want to?

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