This I Believe

Josh - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007

Technology – Necessary Evil or Evil?

“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.”

As society has grown throughout the centuries, so too has technology. In 5,000 B.C., the wheel is invented. In 2,000 B.C., the handcart is introduced. In 1885, Karl Benz creates the modern automobile. As far back as even the most rudimentary creations, society’s progress has always been measured by the amount of technology. And it is that technology which reflects the society in which it is incorporated.

Just as wheels became automobiles, spears became missiles. Warfare has facilitated the creation of bigger and better weaponry. A constant state of destruction has fostered more dreadful methods of death. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. The “natives” have been at war since the dawn of time, be it the first men fighting with spears or Janjaweed Warriors with assault rifles. When European colonization began, the African peoples were still at war, fighting with primitive weapons. This changed once technology savvy whites introduced guns and more advanced weapons. The 19th and 20th centuries brought an even more sophisticated arsenal. Colonial powers spread the rate by which people can kill. The ultimate weapon is the nuclear option. Fear of “nukes” has been apparent since their proliferation in 1945.

Another technological drawback is transportation. I admit, transportation has its advantages, but it also has many downsides. Recent data has seen a rise in the amount of greenhouse gases and global warming. This is due to the carbon emissions from cars and other transportation methods. The energy monopoly has allowed them to keep more environmentally friendly tech out of the market.

The transportation industry has facilitated the spread of disease. The AIDS Virus was spread initially within the airline industry. It was allowed to move about as a result of this technology. The same is true for SARS.

The Book of Revelations talks about how the anti-Christ will attempt to rule with a system bearing the mark of the beast. This isn’t a literal story, so much as alluding to government control through information i.e. the social security system. “Big brother” can listen to our phone conversations, check our emails, see what books we check out, all thanks to technology. This has been portrayed in different medium in recent years. Enemy of the State, Se7en, Brave New World, and A Clockwork Orange illustrate this fact. Since 9/11, fear of terrorism has fostered a “need” for more surveillance at the cost of American freedoms. The Patriot Act has become a necessary evil. But we cannot sacrifice freedom at any cost. This is what the terrorists are trying to accomplish by attacking us in the first place.

I’m certainly not a Luddite, but technology must be watched. Albert Einstein saw the effects it could have on society and spent the later years of his life fighting against nuclear arms. His efforts must be duplicated against problems like pollution and globalization. We must resist the instinct to do what is easy and instead do what is right.