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Science and technology will destroy humanity

  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Is science justifiably influencing our value judgements, knowledge of the world, self exploration, etc?

    • It is having an effect on such aspects, but it is justified.
      10
    • It is having an effect on such aspects, and it is not vindicated.
      4
    • No.
      0


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Science and technology have undoubtedly benefited us in uncountable ways and many of them are not thought of or imaginable just a while ago. The computer I am using to browse the site is a perfect example: who would have thought of the emails, internet, all the incredible techno stuff, say, twenty or thirty years ago? However, I have read and watched science fiction about science taking over our lives, ultimately destroying humanity. That might be overstating, but recent research on genetics has worried me - should we alter genetic traits and stuff of an unborn baby? These experiments have not only challenged the religious prospects and traditional ethics, but also to a degree that they have questioned the contingency of our human race (in some sense; maybe some of you could explain better than me).

The question is, will science and technology destroy our humanity? (not only 'humanity' as in biological mechanisms, but our culture, nature, individualism etc) If yes, is it justifiable?

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Are you asking this for your IB Portfolio piece?

Anyway, I don't think that science and technology will destroy our humanity if and only if we keep a limit on it. Science fiction does suggest that technology may some day take over us, but only if we let things get that way. For example, we will never (unless we are stupid) engineer an artificial intelligence that doesn't have an emergency kill switch or another method of controlling it. When I say 'we', I mean all people with common sense. Social networking does concern me, however. If all of one person's details (eg. name, address, phone number) are all kept on one site within one account (eg. Facebook), if you take control of that account you have all of a person's personal details. Also, in the case of sites like Facebook, you have the capabilities to post comments or messages about what you are doing, where you are going, etc., and if you take control of another person's account you can steal their identity, and say thing that the person doesn't want to say. Identity theft is a serious issue, and even though we try to protect ourselves against it with SSL and firewalls, if we hear on the news that people are able to hack into the Pentagon, we really aren't safe. So is it actually smart to post your personal information online? When you are posting personal information about yourself and your contact details you can actually be posting your whole identity.

If you have ever read the book Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell, you will understand what our world will become if technology is used to the point of autocracy. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the citizens' whole lives are monitored constantly by a Telescreen - a device which not only spews out political propaganda but also monitors your every move - and they are punished severely if they don't display characteristics that are thought of to be good. This punishment is not only your execution but the removal of your name from all history records ever, and is known as 'vaporisation'. The concept in Nineteen Eighty-Four that "Big Brother is Always Watching You" emphasizes how controlling surveillance might become in the future, and the consequences thereof. In the book, the citizens' culture, opinions and individualism are being manipulated and destroyed by a combination of brainwashing and fear of punishment, all centred around the idea that you are always being monitored by a camera. That not only happens in fiction, but in real life also. If we are being monitored by a camera, we take note that everything that camera sees is being recorded, and that if we do something wrong the camera will record that action, and other people will see it. This changes our thoughts in that we are not acting as we usually would, but acting in spite of the camera monitoring us.

In response to the concept of gene alterations, scientists are constantly discovering new things about the human genome and about which genes are responsible for which traits, and we are starting to experiment with plants and animals, and even with humans to some degree. If scientists can work out how to genetically modify an apple to be larger and juicier than it is normally, then why wouldn't they be able to make humans stronger? I honestly don't know specifics about this, but I think it means that we will be able to altar genetic traits of an unborn baby and select a 'designer baby' based on what genetic traits we want the child to show, for example blue eyes and left hand dominance. If it gets to the point, however, where the predisposition of babies to certain emotions and thoughts (if we ever get that far with the human genome) can be altered by scientists, then that will destroy our humanity.

In conclusion, I think that science and technology have definitely made our lives so much easier, but if we go too far with social networking, surveillance and genetic modification it may destroy our humanity. I believe that these things can be partially justified in that social networking is a good system, surveillance is good for crime prevention and genetic modification is good for getting rid of genetic diseases; but if we go to the point where we as a society are totally dependent on these things to survive, I think they might be the end of us.

Edited by Jaydon
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Just something quickly, if you haven't, watch Fringe, its about this stuff, quite interesting

I have watched a few episodes, and yes it does deal with the kind of stuff

never liked american soap operas though :no:

Jaydon: What do you mean by the portfolio piece? there is something like that? :blink:

I have read nineteen eighty four, and it does have a great impact on me especially since I read it when I was small

I am going to reread it, see if anything comes to me, thanks :yes:

Isnt it a bit cliche-ish about your conclusion? 'to certain extent', 'beyond the point', 'not if it is not misused....', bleh.

but i really like your arguments :D

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i began writing and writing - being all philosophical, then i stopped deleted it, and googled it = biggest effect of technology

it makes you lazy to learn things the hard way.

new technologies are coming out that are pointless, yes first we wanted a better way to transport, so we built all that boats, cars, trains, airplanes.... etc. but it was never enough for us. we wanted to go faster. thats why we dont just accept ld technologies, even though they do what we require. mankind is greedy, so we create something that will satisfy our greed for some time, and then when we are fed up with it we just build another.

im not saying it's a bad thing, i just want to make it clear that it is affecting our lives, in both the good ways and the bad ways. when i was a little i kid i played the ATARI, and then after a couple of years, my parents got my sister the PS1, and as soon as i became in the 3rd grade i got my hands on the PS2 - i used to enjoy it very much, spending not so much time on it, but also going out to play football, and other embarrassing games in the neighborhood. there wasn't as much as a variety of consoles like we have today. now not only are there games controls alone, but these games can be downloaded everywhere; you would already have them on your, PS, laptop, phone, or even ipod.

my brother is a gamer addict, and he has COD on the PS3, laptop, and phone!! and when my mom take everything away he actually watches people play on youtube!! O.o too much of that is bad.

okay i'm all for these new electronics, when i first got the bb, i was actually addicted to it for a week, nonstop on my bbm :( then i saw how bad it was affecting me and my studies, i told my mom to disconnect the bbm from my device. :(

i think it's bad for all of us if we dont have any self control.

technology isn't bad, but it's our control over ourselves that would cause the distruction of our lives.

well with that am talking about the peaceful technologies.

*I'M JOKING ABOUT THE FOLLOWING*

there are technologies that will kill us. like atomic, nuclear, and other types of bombs. you also have different weapons which are being enhanced to kill us. so yes some technology will destroy humanity <3 <3 <3

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Arguably, technology = humanity. Intelligence is what differentiates our species from pigs or platypuses, and technology is a necessary, desirable and logical result from intelligence. To say technology will destroy humanity would be self-defeating.

Besides, I think the more interesting question here would be what you suggest as an alternative. I'd love to hear your argument for Ludditism. If you want to talk about destroying humanity, that would be it. Or would you say technology and progress is bad but inevitable and unalterable, in which case we'd just be back to square one argumentatively.

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Just something quickly, if you haven't, watch Fringe, its about this stuff, quite interesting

I have watched a few episodes, and yes it does deal with the kind of stuff

never liked american soap operas though :no:

Jaydon: What do you mean by the portfolio piece? there is something like that? :blink:

I have read nineteen eighty four, and it does have a great impact on me especially since I read it when I was small

I am going to reread it, see if anything comes to me, thanks :yes:

Isnt it a bit cliche-ish about your conclusion? 'to certain extent', 'beyond the point', 'not if it is not misused....', bleh.

but i really like your arguments :D

The ITGS Portfolio Piece is pretty much the ITGS IA. You can discuss a range of topics about IT and society. I just thought that you might have been asking this question for your Portfolio Piece instead of just asking out of personal interest. I guess my conclusion is kind of cliche, I did write it in a hurry because it was like 10pm last night. I could write about it all day if I so wished, but I have a Mandarin written piece today, so I'm studying for that.

I think it's good that you're reading Nineteen Eighty-Four again, it's a good insight into what might happen.

pumkinns: I see that you're approaching it from a mostly good perspective. Yes, gaming and computer addiction is bad, and I reckon that about 50% of teenage girls are addicted to Facebook. However, do you think that one day we might go too far and make something that is harmful to us? For example, the Nintendo 3DS (which is being released on 31 March) is said to harm the eyesight of children under 6 with its 3D capabilities. Since nowadays 4-year-olds are running around with DSs and Playstations, I think that this may very well affect young children for the worse. The problem with that is that I don't think that parents have much of a say in what 4-year-old children 'want'. Yes, addiction does affect study, as I know, but it can affect far more than that. Addiction affects people's lives. It takes over their thoughts and everything is a constant motivation to 'go back' to your addiction.

I guess it is all about self-control, and you have a very valid argument that it's our control over ourselves that will lead to our destruction. In saying this however, without the development of these technologies (which would have been inevitable at some point) we wouldn't have these distractions to deal with. Ask your parents about how school was without computers, mobile phones and gaming devices. Your last argument is valid as well, even though it's a joke. Warfare technology is becoming more and more dangerous, and with the current amount of nuclear weapons available, if we are so inclined we can destroy the world 10 times over. Take the Cold War. It was just a bunch of threats thrown out about who was going to drop a nuclear bomb on who. If one of them had actually gone through with the bombing, it would have had catastrophic effects on the world and people. If warfare technology becomes developed enough, science fiction tells us that we could destroy ourselves with it.

Proletariat: Intelligence isn't the only thing that separates us from a platypus or a pig. There are massive genetic differences and brain structure differences. I see where you're getting at though. I don't like you just dismissing the topic, and I think you're saying that technology is inevitable and that we will 'develop what we develop'. Think about it this way: the main reason that technology has gone slightly over-the-top in the past couple of decades is our greed and our want for more power and more functionality in life. I honestly believe that these traits are inherit and inevitable, but if we weren't so greedy and lazy we wouldn't constantly be inventing technology to do things for us. Think about this.

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You're probably right Jaydon; I might've rushed through that first post a bit (my bus was leaving in 3min!) but my argument in it still stands. I didn't mean to be dismissive, but I do believe in the intrinsically intertwined nature of technology and humanity. I was also referring to humanity, again, in the philosophical sense, not the biological. I am quite aware of both the biological differences (bills) and similarities (double helix) between Platypuses and Man, but I have yet to meet a Platypus that can debate with me about metaphysics.

As for the sentence "if we weren't so greedy and lazy we wouldn't constantly be inventing technology to do things for us", you must keep in mind that I could just as easily note that if humanity as a species wasn't as intelligent as it is, we wouldn't be inventing technology either. I'm not sure if the reason/purpose for technology can be boiled down to Cardinal Sins; no matter how generous or industrious I may be, I still wouldn't be able to vaccinate myself against polio just through willpower.

I'm usually a cynic, but on the issue of technology, my outlook isn't quite so dystopian - even though BNW is my favourite novel ^^.

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Proletariat: I agree with your argument that humanity is and always will be curious and greedy. I understand that. I agree with your claim that humans are different 'philosophically humanity-wise' to a platypus and it would be inappropriate to assume that we can have a physical debate with one. However, we don't know for sure that a platypus doesn't have thoughts and conscious feelings, as we haven't been able to communicate them. They could, in a way, think like us; they could have a mind. If what Descartes said was true about Dualism, then by all means animals have minds of their own.

I agree with you partially about your response to my sentence about greed and laziness, because we wouldn't be able to invent this kind of technology without our intelligence, yes. But it isn't just a human flaw that causes us to be greedy and lazy in terms of inventing new technology. We have a conscious choice over this, regardless of whether it's inherit in human nature. You will find that most of today's technology improvements are just faster ways to do tasks that we frankly can't be bothered doing. Take Facebook for example, it's just an electronic substitution for meeting friends; and Messenger is an electronic substitution for talking to people. As in my previous arguments, we are putting our identities on the line when we are signing up to services such as this because we don't want to put in the effort that it takes to talk to a friend or to meet friends and discuss what's happening. I'm not saying that the reason or purpose for technology is greed and laziness, I'm saying that greed and laziness contribute to our over-dependency as a society on technology. New developments are making it easier and easier to do the things that our ancestors had to do the long way, and it takes some of the values out of things that we are doing, like having a conversation with a friend.

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pumkinns: I see that you're approaching it from a mostly good perspective. Yes, gaming and computer addiction is bad, and I reckon that about 50% of teenage girls are addicted to Facebook. However, do you think that one day we might go too far and make something that is harmful to us? For example, the Nintendo 3DS (which is being released on 31 March) is said to harm the eyesight of children under 6 with its 3D capabilities. Since nowadays 4-year-olds are running around with DSs and Playstations, I think that this may very well affect young children for the worse. The problem with that is that I don't think that parents have much of a say in what 4-year-old children 'want'. Yes, addiction does affect study, as I know, but it can affect far more than that. Addiction affects people's lives. It takes over their thoughts and everything is a constant motivation to 'go back' to your addiction.

I guess it is all about self-control, and you have a very valid argument that it's our control over ourselves that will lead to our destruction. In saying this however, without the development of these technologies (which would have been inevitable at some point) we wouldn't have these distractions to deal with. Ask your parents about how school was without computers, mobile phones and gaming devices. Your last argument is valid as well, even though it's a joke. Warfare technology is becoming more and more dangerous, and with the current amount of nuclear weapons available, if we are so inclined we can destroy the world 10 times over. Take the Cold War. It was just a bunch of threats thrown out about who was going to drop a nuclear bomb on who. If one of them had actually gone through with the bombing, it would have had catastrophic effects on the world and people. If warfare technology becomes developed enough, science fiction tells us that we could destroy ourselves with it.

i think more than 50% of all teenagers both boys and girls are fb addicts :P we might not go too far to make something that would harm us literally, but probably a gadget that would make us even more lazy - harmful (my point).

and you are right, my parents didn't have the technologies we have today. i doubt my grandfather can open skype, or run a pc correctly. but haven't you noticed that there is a big possibility that in the future there would be even more high tech devices that would be of the younger generations interest, and thus ruining a lot of things in their life.

i'm 17 years old, and my little sister is 7, when i was her age i never had a cellphone, it didn't reach that level. but now she has a really nice phone, where she sits on it 24/7 and if she isn't on the phone she's on fb, or playing games online.

i'm studying DT right now, and basically i get to look at how the mind of the designer works, in terms of technology. yes they are useful (like the sensory equipment that help med students practice operations on) but also designers, base their design on things that still don't exist, they try to find new concepts.

soo tell me, if some one 7 and a new technology comes out which has everything you need, a pop out wide screen tv, unlimited games, a comfy seating, food tables, built in music player, and internet access, wouldn't you be tempted to ask for one? and am talking about the future here, where this is a possibility. soo what would the outcome be for the future generation.

did you know that the major target markets are people from the ages of 13-27 new technology catches their eyes, and they would get their hands on it.

my joke was valid, but i brought it up as a joke because it's soo obvious :)

Proletariat: I agree with your argument that humanity is and always will be curious and greedy. I understand that. I agree with your claim that humans are different 'philosophically humanity-wise' to a platypus and it would be inappropriate to assume that we can have a physical debate with one. However, we don't know for sure that a platypus doesn't have thoughts and conscious feelings, as we haven't been able to communicate them. They could, in a way, think like us; they could have a mind. If what Descartes said was true about Dualism, then by all means animals have minds of their own.

I agree with you partially about your response to my sentence about greed and laziness, because we wouldn't be able to invent this kind of technology without our intelligence, yes. But it isn't just a human flaw that causes us to be greedy and lazy in terms of inventing new technology.

i dont know if you two gentlemen agree with me, but i'd say that our greed and laziness come from our animal instincts. we are so caught up with the new technologies available, that we want to make our work even better. i read somewhere something really interesting, i'm not saying it word for word and am adding my own thoughts, soo ohh well: man first rode on camels, and horse but it wasn't that comfortable, to they strapped the animals to a carriage, now they are comfortable, but the animals wanted to be fed, and rested, so they created a machine called the CAR, and it ran on steam engines, so it was heavy, and slow. so they created a car that runs on fuel. gave it extra modifications to suit ones pleasure. but still every year they find out more problems regarding their previous creation so they keep on enhancing it, but that didn't please the people, some wanted to be special so they design different shapes, styles...etc. and this will keep going. now cars have tvs, radios, cd players, playstations.... and others

do you see where am going. we always want the best. and what everyone has isnt good enough so we ask for something better. that just shows how greedy we are.

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Scientific progress is inevitable, and eventually we'll reach Singularity. But it must be understood that ethics have a great influence over what science is used for. You'll rarely (but still will) have people who disregard ethics in the name of science, but the purpose of science is not simply to know the universe, but to help the human race. If we continue to see our "humanity" as something valuable that must be maintained, then it shall be maintained. No amount of scientific progress will override our values. Whatever change in our values that comes as a result of scientific progress is as a result of our determination from this new knowledge that these values are not necessary to maintain our humanity.

Science and technology will not destroy our humanity, but perfect and maintain it.

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