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The Misuse Of Technology

August 27, 2013

…is to enable problems to persist instead of solving them.

Technology allows us to do new things. It also allows us to do things we already do faster, easier, more efficiently. It can solve problems, but it can also enable them to persist.

Is the problem caused by habit or environment? Is it one that can be solved by regulation or organization? If so, it cannot be solved by technology, it can only be enabled.

Examples: a pill that keeps you from getting fat, no matter how much junk food you eat. (Is the purpose of life to gorge on garbage?) Robotic bees that pollinate flowers. (If we can design tiny robots that do what bees do, shouldn’t we have the technological capacity to stop doing whatever it is that is killing them?)

Examples of problems that can be solved by technology: an asteroid might collide with the earth, unless we detect and redirect it. Just as deadly, but more insidious: our existing industrial infrastructure converts minerals and biomass irreversibly into landfill detritus and environmental toxins, unless we redesign it.

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