I am tired of hearing that science and technology will save the world.
It is almost the same as saying “Jesus will save you!”
It evokes the very same passive quasi-religious hope that something or someone out there will magically solve all our problems, bring abundance in our lives, help us live forever and bring back the dead.
I am sorry to break this to you but science and technology will not save the world. Never have.
For example, we have all the science and technology to provide water, food, shelter and sanitation – the mere basic necessities, to every hungry and homeless person on our planet. And yet 800 million people are starving. 800 million lack access to clean and safe drinking water and another 2 1/2 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide and as many as 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing.
Global warming is another obvious example: we know the science – it is pretty uncontroversial and conclusive. And we do have all the technology to move beyond both fossil fuels and meat consumption – the two most damaging factors not only to our environment but also to our own health. And yet we are not taking action. Hoping that the science will turn out to be wrong. That someone else will give up driving an SUV or eating meat three times per day. And that artificial intelligence will come and solve all of our problems.
Our civilization is like an alcoholic with a failing liver – we hope we can 3d bio-print a new one just in time, while failing to acknowledge our self-destructive habits and our own responsibility, thereby failing to address the actual problem, rather than the symptom.
It’s like hoping to win the lottery – it’s not totally impossible, but it is almost certain we won’t. [And even if we do, then what? It will only provide more time, not necessarily a solution.] And so we sit, and wait, and hope for science and technology to come save the world. And we are getting both fat and lazy as we are eating and driving ourselves to death. Both personally and collectively.
We are destroying ourselves and our planet and we put our hopes and fears in things like God, science and technology:
Our techno-deity aka “science and technology” will save us. [sic]
Or the wrath of God-like super-intelligent AI will destroy us.
And we keep telling ourselves that convenient story. That lie. So that we can keep avoiding an inconvenient truth:
That humanity is the greatest threat and hope for humanity. Not some omni-present, all-knowing, almighty force residing outside of us.
It is us who are the greatest force on our planet – the real destroyers and creators. It is us who ought to take the blame for where we are today and the problems we have. It is us who are driving the train towards the trainwreck. And, it is only us, who can move our own foot off the gas pedal and hit the brakes to save ourselves.
So what would Socrates say?
Technology is NOT enough!
And neither is science.
P.S. Many thanks to my friend Sven Mastbooms for the original cartoon he made specially for this article.