Saturday, April 25, 2009

Technophobic v. Concerned Citizens

As this course has continually reaffirmed - new technology means a new set of ethically boundaries must be produced.  The doctrine produced by the transhumanists on the surface seems overwhelmingly agreeable.  Why wouldn't we want to advance technology to its full capacity for our benefit?  Unfortunately there must be some type of system of accountability but into place in order to regulate how this technology is being used.  After browsing through the various principles of the transhumanist doctrine, I found this particular piece to be quite interesting:

"Transhumanists think that by being generally open and embracing of new technology we have a better chance of turning it to our advantage than if we try to ban or prohibit it."

The notion being "open" and "embracing" this new type of technology sounds great and progressive in nature but it does not leave room for refinement.  Does that mean if one is cautious in how robots are being used they are automatically "technophobic?"  This is not fair. Just because someone wants to make sure transhuman technology is being regulated does not necessarily mean they are against its ability to progress.  As mentioned before, there must be a set of ethical guidelines put in place before this technology gets into the hands of someone with the intent to do harm.

I believe the first step in making sure that prohibitive measures are not being viewed as "technophobic" is to educate the public.  For example, the nuclear missile crisis of the 1960's scared a lot of people because it was such an unknown technology.  Nuclear power can and should be used but the threat it poses if used in warfare is life-threatening.  Even today, the thought of Iraq having possession of nuclear power was enough to bring the U.S. to invade.  Therefore, if the public and advances in transhuman technology is kept transparent we can all sleep easily.  With this being said another passage from the transhuman doctrine struck me as interesting:

"In planning for the future, it is mandatory to take into account the prospect of dramatic progress in  technological capabilities. It would be tragic if the potential benefits failed to materialize because of  technophobia and unnecessary prohibitions. On the other hand, it would also be tragic if intelligent life went  extinct because of some disaster or war involving advanced technologies."

I suppose the last sentence referring to the threat of losing intelligent life as a result of new technology is exactly what I discussed prior.  Unfortunately this only one sentence out of many included in the doctrine that addresses this matter.  This issue of malpractice is too big of an issue that if not addressed appropriately in the doctrine may hurt its effectiveness. The next few years of transhuman development should be interesting but the public must take up the responsibility in ensuring that we are protecting ourselves.  We should not be labeled as "technophobic" but as concerned citizens.  


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. So much of what we see through media is blown entirely out of proportion, and stories of the threats posed by technological development are no exceptions. I agree that there is an occasional need for skepticism, but the benefits of technological advancement are endless.

    With that said, skeptics should not be immediately labeled technophobics. However, before voicing a concern about the threats of artificial intelligence, for example, one should conduct the necessary research to develop an informed opinion on the subject.

    I would consider knowledge and education to be the primary distinguishing factor between overreacting technophobics and informed citizens with a concern.