Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Genie We Didn't Want.

Here's a scenario.  And here's my thought about it: Turning our collective backs on technology as "too dangerous" is never gonna happen.  Here's another NYT article on a similar topic.  Doping athletes should be legalised.  Dope-free Olympics?  Is never gonna happen either.

As the latter article points out, voluntarily turning our backs on a competitive edge is not going to happen. Athletes are just going ot get into an escalating race to find the undetectable dope, officials will attempt to find the infallible test, and athletes are going to keep doing it, mostly without being detected.

Similarly, any new technology like robotics with tremendous capabilities, farming advances that promise to triple yields, and weapons research, are never going to go away.  Always there will be many groups clandestinely working on the technology and applying it, and trying to devise ways to find out if "them others" are breaking the agreement that we're using to our advantage - by breaking it ourselves.

In Olympic doping, the athletes are undergoing a transformation, and altering their bodies for performance.  In general technology, we're altering the world in profound ways, not all of which will end happily.  As I say in another article though, we're going to keep doing both, messing with our bodies and with our world.

Maybe it's part of our evolution, that we'll have to engineer our own bodies to withstand the rigors of the harsh world we're creating with technology.  Maybe that's the fate of any species that dabbles in technology, maybe this is that genie that can never be put back in the bottle. 

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