On Wisdom: Modern World: Technology

Music: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.
By J.S. Bach. Sequenced by George Pollen.

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Nicholas Gordon

1. Technology, like evolution, is progressive, one change building upon another in an ascent towards greater complexity and specialization.

2. Thus technological change often seems inevitable: "What can be done, will be done," regardless of ultimate desirability.

3. Yet such change is always and entirely a matter of political and social will, so that although the means may exist, the end need not be pursued without our consent.

4. Even so, technology, like any tool, extends one's reach, and few who now reach four feet would refuse the opportunity to reach six.

5. It is inconceivable that we would long refuse to pursue technologies that would free us from disease and the necessity of manual labor, vastly increase our life spans, and enable us to spread beyond the confines of Earth. The distant future may find us populating other worlds and living thousands of years, far stronger and more perceptive and intelligent than we are now. Who would turn away from such a destiny, no matter what the cost?

6. Thus, as with globalization, the task is not to oppose technological change but to manage it well. This is especially true since technology not only promises to elevate us but also threatens to extinguish us, and with us all life in Earth.

7. The way to manage technology well is to allow it to develop slowly, step by careful step, always ready to sacrifice the present generation for the next, with moderation and patience.


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