The Technoskeptic’s resident philosopher and historian David Reynolds gives us a deep dive on the theoretical issues framing technoskepticism. These thought-provoking, longer-form pieces will reside in our resources section, currently in development. In the meantime, we’ll be sharing them on Medium. Below, David briefly introduces his second piece. Follow this link to read the entire essay. You can find part one here. —ML
Technology is Not the Solution (Principles of Technoskepticism, Part Two)
“Technology has the power to make such a positive difference in people’s lives,” insists Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, “we have a simple obligation: spread it.” It is a conviction that every day clears away moral and practical impediments to technological change. Whatever the problem might be, technological innovation and application, according to conventional wisdom, must be the solution.
This view would be enough of a challenge if technology were merely thought of as a preferable source of solutions. Instead, increasingly regarded as the ultimate solution to replace and supersede all others, technology drives out every alternative form and method of solution. Yet, far from containing and being a solution to moral problems, technology blinds us to the moral source and moral essence of those problems. Even as it does so, technology both exacerbates problems and inexorably creates new ones, both literally and conceptually.
The root problem, as explored in Part One, lies in our technological way of thinking and living. We try to solve moral problems technologically because we view these problems technologically. “We seem trapped,” reflects philosophy scholar Theresa Morris, “within the framework of a scientific-technological mind-set that keeps us from thinking differently about how we might approach our problems.” It is crucial for us to understand how we are mistakenly conceiving of our society’s problems, and then compounding them by our consequent insistence on more of the same. Technology is not the solution.