Technological culture: Technology, progress, nihilism

One’s position on the question of technological progress is largely determined by what one sees of technology. The trad conservative sees his children suffering brain-damage from over-exposure to tik-tok and he becomes anti-technology. The progressive sees the potential of advances in the bio-medical sciences and he becomes radically pro-technology.

Really, no greater philosophy is needed to understand (most) people’s position relating to technological progress. You think what you see.

In the end, technology is only a manner of revealing, a way in which previously unknown avenues of experience are opened up. Revolutions in aviation reveal new experiences of speed. And revolutions in digital technology reveal new experiences of information.

Yet, all such inventions open up not only the possibility of a new and positive experiences, but also of disaster. Before the invention of the auto-mobile, there was no such things as dying in a car-accident. And with the invention of vaccines, we also invented a new way of getting autism.

If one would like to be safe, really safe, one would be led to put a stop on all technological progress whatsoever. For all inventions are simultaneously the invention of a potential disaster.

But is the harm that necessarily occurs in the course of technological progress an argument against such progress? Or is it merely collateral damage, to be accepted. Does the future require future catastrophe?

The history of technological progress is the history of an experiment. And as with all experiments, often many failures precede success. Or rather, it is through failing that we reach success. And if we want to keep succeeding, we have to keep failing. With new inventions in information-technology and education, new experiences of idiocy open themselves up. And with new inventions in medicine, new experiences of pain and disease reveal themselves to us. Still, experimentation, even if failing, is better than stasis. You learn from your mistakes, you re-evaluate your strategy, but you keep going, you don’t give up. And if nothing is gained, then at least we have gained knowledge of what we shouldn’t do.


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