It’s a rerun, but it’s probably even more relevant now than it was the first time around.
“Is technological advancement a net positive
or a net negative?”
Technological advancement is too broad a term for me to address. It would include medicine, electronics, computers, cell phones, social media, television, CGI — really just about all the stuff we use in our day to day lives.
Certainly in medicine and science, we have gained ground in many critical ways. That so many people don’t see through the lies and BS produced on social medial is depressing. For most of us, medicine has come a long way and its result is we live longer and usually better.
Computers are an advance, though they are often used poorly and by people who don’t understand them — or who use them to cause havoc in the world.
Humans seem unable to create anything without also weaponizing it. No matter how much good it could do, we always find a way for it to do more harm than good, or at least as much harm as good.
One of the few net positive gains is probably CGI. It was being invented in the early 1970s while I was working for two scientific photography magazines. One of them — “Scientific Photography” — was dominated by early CGI research. It was obvious that once it came of age, it would greatly change how movies were made. And so it has. No longer is it only part of specialty movies, like horror or sci fi. It has become part of television and almost every movie uses it, even if only in small pieces. It has become accepted as normal. I’m pretty sure no one wants to go back to rubber monster suits, though there are times where I’m sure less CGI and better scriptwriting would improve movies. Over all, it’s a net positive on CGI.
I love email and hate most social media. Not the concept, but how it has been used. It was supposed to bring people together, not wrench them into enraged opposing camps. It has been so thoroughly weaponized that if I could wish it to not exist, I would. This is the best example I can think of where a good idea has been turned into a horror story. I have a feeling the worst is yet to come.
Our technology does not explain why so many people have become so incredibly stupid. I am sure there were always dummies amongst us, but stupidity has swept humanity more thoroughly than any plague. Since there’s no cure for stupidity — no possibility of a vaccine, it will last as long as people exist. Those morons raise children and sometimes, become senators and presidents.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Remember “Forbidden Planet” and the monsters from the ID? Well — someone let those monster out. Today, they roam free.
Over all, we’ve been great at inventing and awful at using inventions. We have never been good at doing good. If there is a way to do evil with something intended for our benefit, we will demonize and weaponize it. There is something wrong with humans. It doesn’t affect every single person, but it does affect far too many and I think, in the end, it will doom us all.