The Quandary of Technology
Humankind has been the master of technology since its humble beginnings. Actually, our ability to use higher brain functions in order to create and handle tools is essentially what sets us apart as a species, however able some other apes may be. Our creativity defines us and whatever we choose to do with it will mark the progress of our civilization. After all, technology is no longer defined only by useful tools of creation, but by weapons of destruction too.
Unfortunately, even in the Western world people have a strange ambivalence towards science and modern technology. It is certainly understandable -generations still alive vividly remember the horrors of World War II. Specifically, they remember the atomic bomb. There is nothing to argue, is there? It was a horrific and inexcusable invention of mass destruction. One of the fathers of the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, said as much, quoting the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
But lest we forget that the power of the atom has also brought us immeasurable advances in energy harnessing, medicine and knowledge itself. Much would be lost without these advances, such as the CERN Large Hadron Collider that is currently unearthing the mysteries of the early universe and challenging the Standard Model of particle physics by putting the existence of the Higgs boson elementary particle to the test. Nuclear power -just as any other piece of technology- can also be a tool for creation. As the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan declared:
"That same rocket and nuclear and computer technology that sends our ships past the farthest known planet can also be used to destroy our global civilization. Exactly the same technology can be used for good and for evil."
Science - and its actualization in modern technology - is neutral. The good and the bad of technology are not to be found in it but in whatever we end up doing with that knowledge. Humanity has the key to both moral goodness and pure wickedness and greed -technology is nothing more and nothing less than a conduit, a tool we can use for creation or destruction.
The future of our species and maybe even the fate of this pale blue dot suspended in space depend solely on us. Only tools of creation can bring us to that future – or to any future.