Reference: "Brain Wave Diary" (10/24/00)
Science and technology, my, how those words stirred the blood in younger days, every new day bought forth another scientific marvel or technological miracle. "Soon", we were told, science and technology would unburden us from common toil. Sickness would be a distant memory and even death might soon be avoided. "Soon", we would surely languish, (as we should), in blissful state-reaping the rewards of progress, denizens of a new and vastly improved utopia.
How seductive is THAT carrot?
Well, it is fifty years later now and I have taken to wondering about the promises of science and technology. Perhaps my expectations were set far to grandly, or perhaps I have glimpsed the reality of science and technology wrought progress. Don't get me wrong though, thousands of innovations are brilliant, showcasing human perspicacity. A veritable dearth of innovation, discovery and invention swamps our very senses, beguiles imagination and dazzles the most jaded eyes.
So, what's the beef then?
Oh, it's not that my gratification for plastics, PCB's, DDT or atomic reaction and such is in question, certainly each step of progress was a "miracle of the minute" and doubtless lifted humanity one notch in the direction of the impossible dream.
It is just that I now have misgivings, very grave misgivings.
Fifty years ago I could drink the clear babbling brook water, eat the fish we caught and languish in the noonday sun with impunity. (This seems closer to the utopian goal before science and technology)
Today, my children cannot.
The word "progress" smacks of improvement, betterment, enhancement and upgrade. Science and technology promise progress, I have even seen it said, "Science is progress".
Why then, such obvious signs of regression and not progress? Why then glaring evidence of retrograde, diminished ecology, specie extinction measured in so many per week, progress related ailments, byproduct deaths and bio-destruction?
It now seems to me that science is off the mandate, no longer seeking the promised paradise, methinks science is engaged in fixing last years science. Escalating wildly, today's science and corresponding industry are engaged in remedial endeavors, fixing aftermath from previous, aberrational science. Like a sliding automobile, swinging ever more widely as corrective steering is applied. An endless loop of ever multiplying experiments, compounding error as it flies. Spawning more and more salvage industries to nullify old science. How many companies would there be in paradise and for what good purpose?
But wait, is it science and technology or is it I - accepting, believing and buying?
It is all perfectly safe the day of product launch - we pay to have this so. (It says so in the tiny print)! Big print is used to sell.
Why wouldn't I buy?
But wait, who will find water in outer space when our water is ruined? Who will put oxygen back into our debilitated air? Who will perform miraculous operations on fetus in the womb, correcting toxin-induced deformities? Who will develop anti bodies for disease we have yet to unleash? Who will find us a bubble city in wasted lands or space? Who will resurrect extinctions using pickled DNA and surrogate parents of another kind? Who will clone another me, when this one explodes from scientific progress? Who will transplant animals to eradicate other animals that were transported errantly to foreign environments by science? Who will ad infinitum? Who indeed?
Why, science of course for it is progress and can make muck from gold.
In reflection, I would have been happy if science had stopped at sliced bread!
How about you?