To accept as a fact of life that a certain technology will be used for the simple reason that we know how to use it, or that we shall continue to live under a certain social system after it has become too complicated for human understanding, is tantamount to an abdication of intellectual and social responsibility.
Only science can hope to keep technology in some sort of moral order.
There is a very general belief that, where gadgets are concerned, we can get something for nothing - can enjoy all the advantages of an elaborate, top-heavy and constantly advancing technology without having to pay for them by any compensating disadvantages.
It is characteristic of our age to endeavour to replace virtues by technology. That is to say, wherever possible we strive to use methods of physical or social engineering to achieve goals which our ancestors thought attainable only by the training of character. Thus we try so far as possible to make contraception take the place of chastity, and anesthetics to take the place of fortitude; we replace resignation by insurance policies and munificence by the Welfare state. It would be idle romanticism to deny that such techniques and institutions are often less painful and more efficient methods of achieving the goods and preventing the evils which unaided virtue once sought to achieve and avoid. But it would be an equal and opposite folly to hope that the take-over of virtue by technology may one day be complete.
Every person alive today derives much benefit from comforts and pleasures that in the past were not available. All of the latest inventions and findings of technology serve us to a remarkable degree. For all this we should be full of appreciation and gratitude.
The machine that frees a man’s back of drudgery does not thereby make his spirit free. Technology has mad us more productive, but it does not necessarily enrich our lives. Engineers can build us great dams, but only great people make a valley great. There is no technology of goodness. Men must make themselves spiritually free.
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.
Despite the dazzling successes of modern technology and the unprecedented power of modern military systems, they suffer from a common and catastrophic fault. While providing us with a bountiful supply of food, with great industrial plants, with high-speed transportation, and with military weapons of unprecedented power, they threaten our very survival.
Science and technology, like all original creations of the human spirit, are unpredictable. If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling with human lives.
America’s technology has turned in upon itself; its corporate form makes it the servant of profits, not the servant of human needs.
Modern technology has lost its magic. No longer do people stand in awe, thrilled by the onward rush of science, the promise of a new day. Instead, the new is suspect. It arouses our hostility as much as it used to excite our fancy. With each breakthrough there are recurrent fears and suspicion. How will the advance further pollute our lives; modern technology is not merely what it first appears to be. Behind the whitecoats, the disarming jargon, the elaborate instrumentation, and a the core of what has often seemed an automatic process, one finds what Dorothy found in Oz: modern technology is human after all.
Uncontrolled technology can certainly bring down disaster, perhaps irreparable, as our race. The only protection against it is a growth in man’s spiritual and moral maturity proportionate to his growth in technical skill and power.
The hope that technology will save us or will miraculously effect our moral improvement is a kind of modern idolatry.
Cultures can mix with one another. Explicit design is introduced to promote, improve, advance, and accelerate the evolutionary process of culture. A change brought about by a science and technology of behavior would correspond to a `biological mutation’ towards the better… Yet the final determining cause, whether genetic or cultural, is never an ethical or moral one, but always leads back to the environment. The world is a large-scale laboratory. Both the controller and the controlled are subject to conditioning. All life is conditioning.
I believe that, for the rest of the world, contemporary America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness.
Any industrial technology that dramatically extends our capabilities also makes us uneasy by challenging our concept of humanity itself.
The arms race is based on an optimistic view of technology and a pessimistic view of man. It assumes there is no limit to the ingenuity of science and no limit to the deviltry of human beings.
It is appallingly obvious that our technology exceeds our humanity.
Many of our culture's most important achievements in the arts, science, and technology were made by people who had breakthrough insights in dreams, visions, intuitive flashbacks, and altered states of consciousness. And yet our society generally discounts such experiences, sometimes even treating them as grounds for a diagnosis of mental illness.
Modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power, and to the development of a society controlled (ruthlessly in the totalitarian states, politely and inconspicuously in the democracies) by Big Business and Big Government.