When people think technology, they automatically think of technology—computers, smart-phones, and such, but the post-industrial revolution transformation of the westernized world is far more profound than that. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no telephone, no mechanical transportation (cars, trains and planes). Yes, for most of the millennia that humans have existed on Earth we didn’t have any of that. You had to go to where water was or had to pay someone to haul it to you. Your bathroom was the outdoors like for Fido the dog, and when we got sophisticated it was using a chamber pot (meaning you had to empty it outside) and outhouses. And forget McDonald’s or any other fast-food or a fine restaurant. You wanted to eat then you had to go hunt it or pluck some fruit or vegetable from outside and prepare it.
We love our technology, and many (if not virtually all) of us couldn’t live without it. We have the amazing positives like medicine—see my Pinterest Page here, but we also have what can only be called the disintegration of basic human interaction and knowledge due to increased technological advancement of the species.
- How many people have you seem almost blindly walk into traffic because they were on their smart-phone? Yong people especially who would rather text someone than talk to them in person—they can’t even be bothered with calling them on the phone. The more technology we have gained to connect with people, the less real communication we do with people. Sorry, email doesn’t count and I’m talking about friends, not customers for a business.
- Socrates and Plato would have been in Heaven in our times. We (the average person) have more knowledge at our fingertips than kings, queens, emperors, and the elites of all past human generations. But the more knowledge we have access to, the less we know—and the less wise we are!
- The ubiquitous internet connects us while it isolates us. The technology both unifies us, but it also fragments us. Another technological paradox.
Technology has made our lives better. Average life expectancy was around 30 millennia ago; we could get it 100 on average in the near future.
But therein lies the possibility of another deadly paradox. The more a human’s basic needs are met (food, clothing, shelter) and leisure time becomes a significant pursuit, equaling or rivaling work, then bad things happen. “Idle hands are the play thing of the Devil,” is the idiom and whether your religious, atheist, or agnostic, the saying is frighteningly valid, especially if you have a growing population of those with bad character and bad (or no) morals.
Enter Science Fiction. Notice how few the examples are of a “utopian” future for humans. Even Star Trek which would be classified as utopian sci-fi is filled with all kinds of battles and wars. Most sci-fi doesn’t have a very rosy view of our future, and some of this has been validated as we are the future. We focus on the “toys” of technology (tablets, smart-phones, and computers) when there is so much more to it from medicine (genetic engineering and cybernetics), commerce (robots and artificial intelligence), education (online classes), politics (micro-targeting), and the war (drones, lasers, super-soldiers, weapons of mass destruction).
We have the toys, but are we better? Do we control the technology or does the technology control us? Or, are the questions irrelevant? We are and will always be the same human animal; our technology simply amplifies that nature, good or bad, as was examined in the classic 1950s movie, The Forbidden Planet.
Even among my own work, my first series—The After Eden Series—says that our future will be “no Garden of Eden”; it will be bad. Yeah, if we end up with World War III, I’d say that’s bad. My third series—Liquid Cool—though not utopian sci-fi, is far from the dark, bleak worlds and angst-riddled, morally-challenged characters of typical cyberpunk sci-fi. It’s actually funny. Its attitude is yeah, it rains a lot, it’s always dark, there are a lot of crazy maniacs around, but doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. In one series (After Eden), the glass is always half-empty; the other (Liquid Cool), the glass is half-full, even with the glass being chipped by a pulse bullet.
So we’re left with the question: Will Our Own Technology Just Kill Us All? So much of our sci-fi seems to be saying, “Yes!” But do you agree?
Next Blog: Will Technology Just Kill Us All? The Disgruntled Worlds of Cyberpunk, Biopunk, General Dystopia, Apocalyptic, and Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi (Part II)
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