Must Modern Society Rein In Technological Progress?
from the technological-skepticism dept
His stance can obviously be tackled from many angles, including the fact that technology allows us to make important human connections that had been heretofore impossible. More important, however, is countering the idea that it's society's job to make choices as to what technologies we will accept and which ones we won't. What Davies (and many others) fail to acknowledge is that broad technological changes are the result of millions of individuals making choices. Everyone who owns a cell phone had to weigh the pros and cons of buying one, and each person decided that they would be better off with one. The idea that an enlightened board can decide what is best for everyone ignores the fact that we're all individuals. Davies' technological skepticism echoes the thinking behind Barry Schwartz' popular book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. In it he argues that our abundance, at places like the supermarket, often leaves people confused and frustrated, as opposed to happier and better off. What makes both of their arguments so seductive is the fact that everyone can relate to the problems they identify; sometimes it is overwhelming when we're faced with too many choices. It can be lonely to look around and see everyone silently listening to their iPods. But their arguments fail because it is not enough to just identify flaws to say that a system is broken. The fact that there are problems means we need to innovate some more in order to solve them, not put the brakes on technology out of fear that we'll create new ones. A society in which people aren't allowed to work on new solutions to problems and apply their talents would have many more problems than a lack of communication between passengers on their subway ride.