Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Technological Advances

There have been many technological advances that have been even during my lifetime, and, of course, they continue to be made at an ever-increasing rate. The most striking of these changes has occurred in the digital world and in the biological sciences, especially in the area of genetics. These changes are indeed impressive and speak to the human capacity for genius and innovation.

The one serious flaw in the human equation is the apparent inability of the human persona to adequately deal with these changes. There are many telling examples of the failure of humans to use technological advances wisely or well. The most profoundly obvious of these is the use of the knowledge of the very structure of matter to construct the deadliest weapon of all: the atomic bomb. That such a weapon was actually used against human beings in World War II against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a pointed illustration of the human inability to subdue the darker emotions with the higher faculty of reason.

So many of the current technological advances have been driven by profit, and for this reason, innovations are used for the commercial "good" often at the expense of the natural environment. The rate at which out-dated computers and computer components are being haphazardly discarded in spite of the many biologically toxic materials they contain is an example of the one-sidedness of the decisions that are being made. In addition, the rush towards the widespread use of genetically modified plants and animals for commercial gain without thoroughly investigating the impact of these novel life forms on the biosphere further reinforces this concern.

Unfortunately, humans have not really progressed in the realm of the emotions and the intellect, and the gap between technological application and wise use is growing at an alarming rate. The evolution of the species has not caught up with its behavior, and, most likely, never will.

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