Category Archives: Technology

The Usual Warnings

Warnings3Overall this week, I have been busy with the panpsychism issue, so not much to report. What has attracted my attention has all been related to climate issues, most of which are about the usual warnings and struggles. Given the cultural malaise, some days I wonder who is listening.

Of course, there has also been the many stories around the Trump issues, but of those, I only attend what I consider especially important (or clearly written) — otherwise I simply get tired of the nonsense.

Global Warming

A landmark climate lawsuit against Trump is scheduled for trial next year. Here’s what to expect. (20170705)

A clearly written description of the legal process involved in challenging the US federal government. If successful, the results for individual politicians would be such they might face significant consequences (removal from office to imprisonment). Clmate denial by the US government would likely have to stop, and appropriate actions taken. Perhaps such judgment would spill over to Canadian law also. Unfortunately, even if successful by the plaintiffs, the institution of resolutions may take so long that global warming will be irreversible by the time of their implimentations.

Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines (20170523)

Because of better sampling tools, it appears that most vertebrate species are in major difficulty. A total of 27600 species were examined, 177 in great detail; of the 177 species, more than 40% had species range loss (thus diminished population) of greater than 80%. Not good (by any stretch of the imagination)!

The Uninhabitable Earth (20170709)

A detailed article bordering on doom-mongering, but even if the details are inaccurate, the themes are not — they emphasize the types of outcomes that will occur if we do not respond effectively to global warming. The side articles, referenced in the main article, are also worth reading.

Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says? (20170710)

A much more moderate tone, responding to The Uninhabitable Earth (above), but also noting the importance of knowing the worst case scenarios. “If you don’t know where you are , you cannot get to where you say you want to be!”

Our Approach to Climate Change Isn’t Working. Let’s Try Something Else. (20170710)

A sensible article on what we need to do.

Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica (20170712)

An iceberg the volume of Lake Erie, the size of the state of Connecticut (5800 square kilometers). What can I say?

These animals can survive until the end of the Earth, astrophysicists say (20170714)

The good news is that life is likely to survive. Some contraversy as usual in the scientific research, but with multiple ecological niches, still a good chance that life will persist, and eventually flourish  (after a few million years).

The Busyness Of Life

The Busyness Of Life

Anxiety3As is obvious, I have not been doing a lot of posts in recent weeks. Partly, I’m lacking inspiration, and partly, I’m unclear what else to add to what I have already written. I strongly believe that the many issues within global warming are simply the tip of the iceberg of our cultural immaturity and expanding world population, but until we recognize this, little will change. So I have been pondering what else to write, with little clarity.

For now, I have decided to do a weekly post (more or less), with brief comments on various links that come across my desk. This is the first of such posts, noting:

  • books I’m currently reading
  • social movement victories in the first 100 days
  • recent examples of global warming
  • the age of stupid

Books I’m Reading

A major component of who I am is that I seek an integrated worldview — I’m constantly assessing my experiences and my sources of information for consistency. I am not per se interested in accummulating knowledge; rather I want to experience and live more authentically. I strongly believe that:

A science that does not incorporate spirituality is dehumanizing;
a spirituality that does not incorporate science is delusional.

As part of this ongoing search, I am always reading multiple books at a time, largely because I get saturated with one book, and shift to another to clear my mind. Currently I am reading (I recommend them all):

  • BlindSpots: 21 Good Reasons To Think Before You Talk, by Christian deQuincey[1]
    • Christian was my research advisor for my PhD, and I have a deep respect for his clarity of thinking. BlindSpots is an excellent overview of the many ways in which we become confused about basic issues such as consciousness, energy, time, healing, et cetera. It is somewhat repetitive, but otherwise excellent.
  • Scotus For Dunces: An Introduction To The Subtle Doctor, by Mary Beth Ingram[2]
    • As part of my current exploration of meditation and contemplative practice, I’m studying the Christian traditions, especially the Franciscan traditions. John Duns Scotus was a brilliant theologian of the early 14th century, especially focused on a profoundly mature understanding of the relational character of God. In particular, he illustrates for me that human beings of other centuries were not stupid; they simply did not have our technological sophistication (nor, in many cases, our hubris).
  • Musicophilia: Tales Of Music And The Brain, by Oliver Sacks[3]
    • Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who writes about the many human issues that occur with neurological defects; other than his strong bias to equating mind and brain, I always find his writings to be very insightful. I’m especially interested in this book because, with my own neurological issues, I have little awareness of music — I have almost no response, cognitive or emotional (a point of sadness for me).

Current Comments on Global Warming

A recent article on CTV News Central and Eastern Canada face heavy flooding (20170505) describes the unprecedented rains and flooding occuring on the East Coast of Canada and the US. For me, it highlights the strange weather that is occurring — likely due to global warming (no one weather event can be proved to be due to global warming; it is on the trends of climate that are the main impact). Here, on the West Coast, our spring is very delayed — normally the streets are ablaze with flowering trees and shrubs, but currently theay are very muted or just beginning. For me, all this is simply the beginning of changes, many of which will be very difficult to accommodate.

It is so necessary that we respond to climate disruption in emergency fashion (see Blueprint For A Climate Emergency Movement), and I easily lose sight of progress. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the many articles about the Trump administration that simply incite anxiety — most of them are so illustrative of the need of the media to be theatrical, but some articles are important. The Top 10 Resistance Victories in Trump’s First 100 Days (20170427) identifies that progress is being made, especialy that groups are banding together to have a greater impact. For me, it remains a chaotic morasse without clear focus, more against Trump rather than defining a solid vision of the future, but it is much better than no response. The title ‘It can’t just be a march. It has to be a movement.’ What’s next for climate activists? (20170430) sums it up for me.

In contrast, I note the rise of populism (ant-intellectual political movements that offer unorthodox polices, frequently those that foster some kind of discrimination). Especially good is WATCH: Populism’s ‘backhanded service’ (20170505).

But it remains very difficult to get good information, the internet is so fraught with misinformation. As illustration, David Suzuki’s Research sheds light on dark corner of B.C.’s oil and gas industry (20170504) emphasizes how little I trust government these days. Currently we are in the midst of BC provincial elections, and I simply shake my head at posturing, and promises that likely will never be fully realized.

The Age Of Stupid

In Busy Is The New Stupid (20160720), Ed Baldwin notes I’ve found that the most productive and successful people I’ve ever met are busy, but you wouldn’t know it.  They find time that others don’t.” He notes the many difficulties that occur when we are too busy, and especially emphasizes “We’ve all been tricked into believing that if we are busy we are important.” From my perspective, much of this busyness also occurs because we are overloaded attempting to manage data (emails, reports, et cetera), rather than knowing how to organize information effectively.

Why we need to slow down our lives (20170430), Pico Iyer notes this massive influx of data, and proposes that we need a secular sabbath (given we so seldom keep a religious sabbath in our culture), “if only to regather the sense of proportion and direction [we will] need for when [we] go back online.” He also references an excellent TedTalk How Technology Evolves by Kevin Kelly. Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and an avid enthusiast of technology, yet notes “I continue to keep the cornucopia of technology at arm’s length, so that I can more easily remember who I am.”

In conclusion, I am reminded of a Zen story of the farmer who needs a horse. He is getting old, and now requires a horse so as to plow his fields. Bemoaning his life, he goes to the village master who says, “Be at peace. Come back tomorrow.” So he goes home, somewhat dissatisfied. Yet the next morning, a stray horse shows up in his field. He goes to the master to express his thanks, and the master responds, “Be at peace. Come back tomorrow.” Puzzled, he returns to his farm, plows his fields, and goes to bed. The next morning, his teenage son sees the horse, and attempts a ride, only to fall and break his leg. In misery, the old man goes again to the master, who again answers, “Be at peace. Come back tomorrow.” Again dissatisfied, the old man goes home, to find the local army commandeering all the young men and boys for its battles. His son, with his broken leg, is spared. The old man is elated, and again goes to thank the master, who only replies “Be at peace. Come back tomorrow.”

The single most important skill here, from my perspective, is that of mindfulness, just being present to what is.

So in the trials of life,

“Be at peace. Come back tomorrow.”

[1] deQuincey, C. (2015). Blindspots: 21 good reasons to think before you talk. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press (Kindle Edition)

[2] Ingram, M. B. (2003). Scotus for dunces: An introduction to the subtle doctor. St Bonaventure, NY:Franciscan Institute Publications (Kindle Edition).

[3] Sacks, O. (2007). Musicology: Tales of music and the brain. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Publications

What To Do? (Part 2)

Suicide3This is the second post as I reflect on the issues of what to do about the complexity of global warming and the insanity of our culture, especially the increasing incidence of suicide in our culture. It is in response to two articles sent to me by a friend:

I strongly advocate that we are capable of greatness as a species, but we have much growth to do before that will occur — and since culture/society are simply a group of individuals, the change must begin at the individual level. So, in the meanwhile, here are my thoughts.

  • First of all, I applaud Goutham Kumar of Hyderabad for quitting his corporate job to use his skills to develop a series of organizations to provide for the needy. He has truly learned that the nature of service is joy, both for the receiver and for the giver.
    • However, I believe that there is a trap in this story. We have created a cultural myth of heroes who do the hard work of change in our culture, and while to a major extent, we applaud such action, we do not do the much harder work of correcting the systemic issues that necessitate the hero in the first place. It is like attempting to fill a bucket with water, meanwhile failing to repair the large hole in the bottom.
    • And for the many who do not find the resources within ourselves to initiate such change, either the stance of the hero or the underlying work, it can be a major place of discouragement. I suggest that such discouragement is a significant factor in the actions of those who choose suicide.
  • Second, we need a narrative that allows meaning and purpose. Ideally we need a cultural narrative that fuels our maturity as a species, one that will allow us to move towards a civilization that honors humanity (not power), while utilizing technology to supplement our needs, rather than dictate to our needs.
    • As we listen to one another, perhaps we can get beyond the fractious argument between science and religion, hopefully to recognize that both scientific materialism (SM) and religion have growth to do, that both contain truth, and we must learn to have power over power, not just talk about the issues. Commitment to authentic action is needed.
    • Unfortunately our fractiousness fuels much, if not all, of our difficulty to love our enemies.
  • Third, our culture of SM has placed us in untenable positions. We must give up this paradigm. There are other paradigms.
    • Most of us know that there is a problem with our civilization; however, The Climate Lie (that all is well) is active in many ways. It is very difficult to find honesty in the face of our cultural acedia and the duplicity of many political systems. Undoubtedly this fuels the despair that underlies much of the suicides encountered by my friend.
    • At the same time, the paradigm of meaningless requires that we, as individuals and as a species, must do something about the issue, when we have almost no power to initiate change. This imbalance of responsibility, accountability, and authority is very destructive to who we are as individuals.
  • At this point, I run into my own limitations, previously written about in a series of posts: Being a resource looking for a need. I have spent my entire therapy career attempting to influence the growth of others. I have learned some things thereby.
    • The most important stance is that of high intentional; low attachment. I can only do so much, and even there I need a supportive community to achieve change. I do what I can, and trust the process (im my case, I turn it over to StarMaker, my word for creator or God).
      • To the best of my ability, I learn from the outcomes I encounter.
    • I begin somewhere. We need to work our way into any problem — wherever is relevant. Again, I trust synchronicity will define where I need to go.
      • I accept that there is only so much I can do; I have my limitations, and I know when and how to say No.
    • I attend to my own self-care (this requires two-three hours per day usually). I often appreciate the caring of others, but if I do not care for myself, I am unable to care for others.
      • I do a daily exercise program (my yoga practice).
      • I meditate daily (mindfulness is an essential tool on life journey).
      • I write often (my blog is my major place for reflection).
    • To the best of my ability, I am a good follower. If I can support and contribute to the growth of others, I do so willingly.

 

What To Do? (Part 1)

Suicide2I have not made any entries for a while (aside from the anger emails); overall, I have been busy reading about the complexity of global warming and the insanity of our culture, and reflecting on the issues of what to do. I’m prompted to write now because of two emails from a friend who works for a university health service. In each, he provided an interesting reference, and also asks questions about what to do. I’m writing this post as a response to his questions, because I believe the questions (and my responses) need to be distributed to a larger forum.

In the first, He Quit His Corporate Job To Help His City’s Needy, my friend asks how do we get the message of community service across to our sleepy culture, mainly to the student population who will have to carry the work forward. Especially he is concerned with the increasing incidence of suicide within the student population. In the second, Love Your Enemies. What Does It Mean? Can It Be Done?, he reflects on the need to leave bitterness and hatred behind, wherein the author (Brother David Steindl-Rast) suggests a number of practical steps to circumvent entrapment in pain. In particular, the author notes that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference (acedia in my language).

From my perspective, both enquiries are major comments on the immense immaturity of our species. Together we have created a civilization of vast technological brilliance, and one that is also intensely dehumanizing. As I have said on a number of occasions, “as individuals we are capable of immense greatness, but as a species we are psychotic.”

Two maxims stand out for me as to their importance.

  1. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable (James A. Garfield), and then it will trap you our tendency to self-righteousness).
  2. We have found the enemy, and he is us. (Pogo, Walt Kelly).

I also fall back on a set of premises I learned when first at univerity:

  • If your conclusions are wrong, examine your premises.
  • If your conclusions are right, don’t trust your premises. They can still be inaccurate.

One of my truths is that we are a contentious species — we love to argue! (Frequently we call it discussion.) Sometimes, if we listen to each other, it leads to major advances. But most of the time it leads nowhere.

So a second truth for me is that we must learn to listen to each other. We all have a small part of the truth. And especially if we do not listen to each other, we often end up miserable. So my first response to my friend’s questions is that we need to develop systems of authentic listening — likely small groups meeting frequently where we learn to trust each other (Kumar notes that it was “not uncommon for him and his team to bond with those they rescue”). This requires some skill, offering a combination of listening and short-term resolution that satisfies the need for purpose — not an easy combination to develop in our fractured litiginous world. We must develop mechanisms for providing authentic hope.

As I have noted in previous posts, we have made power as the basis of civilization (two posts), not human needs. This has culminated in a society currently based on consumerism and neoliberal politics. Our paradigm of Scientific Materialism (SM) has identified a universe of incomparable beauty, but labelled it meaningless. From my perspective, it is no wonder that those who become lost between the cracks then commit suicide as an escape.

We have also created a world currently on the brink of disaster, including the possible extinction of the human species. We are engaged in a super-wicked problem of global warming and over-population, and as such, our engagement will often seem like two steps forward, and three steps back. We need to support each other in moving forward, not argue about moving back.

Can we recognize that paradigms are belief systems that coalesce to provide a vantage point for understanding reality? (Note: belief systems are not provable — they can be proven false, but never proven correct.) SM is not the only possible paradigm. It arose largely because the scientific method, principally initiated in the 13th century, proved more effective in explaining the mechanics of the universe than did the Ptolemaic methods of earlier days. More importantly, scientific materialism likely developed from the work of Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), who dreamt of the “scientific conquest of nature for man’s welfare.”[1] (Note the theme of power!) But neither science nor scientific materialism disproved older belief systems; it merely provided better explanations, and unfortunately paved the way for the ill features of our modern civilization.

I am a strong advocate of the scientific method; I also strongly disagree with the assumptions of scientific materialism. In order to function well, human beings need to have a sense of meaning that gives them purpose. I have previously noted that my preferred paradigm is Panpsychism, but I cannot prove that it is a better paradigm — however, it does give me a vastly more comprehensive understanding of the nature of the universe. I have also noted that panpsychism suggests that:

God exists (as the totality of sentient beings), and that (as a component of this totality) each individual sentient being possesses free will. We each makes choices about how we live. In addition, God provides the opportunity (e.g., possibilities) for us to live well. Even if God does not exist or even if the universe is eventually found to be meaningless, each individual still has the option to act as if it is meaningful, and to create a myth that will allow him or her to live within what life offers—in a stance of love, in contrast to acedia.

So my second suggestion for my friend is that these small groups must also tell the truth — not that God exists, not that SM is wrong, but that SM is only a belief system, one that is currently trapping us on a path to extinction. That we must find ways to support people as they struggle to develop their own belief systems, ways that validate their ability to support themselves and each other while challenging the powerful forces that sustain SM and its consequences (and meanwhile stepping out of bitterness and anger at how our civilization has developed). Again, not an easy task.

To be continued.

[1] Tarnas, R. (1991, p. 275). The passion of the Western mind: Understanding the ideas that have  shaped our world view. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

A Number of Interesting Articles

technology7
Technology: dazzling, but distracting

There have been a number of interesting articles have come across my desk in the past few months (some technological, one on civil disobedience), so I thought I would describe them briefly. I recommend that the interested reader explore them all from the original sources listed.

First, some fascinating technological results:

20161128 A way to turn our carbon emissions into rock

As regular readers of this blog will likely know, I do not accept that global warming is a technological issue. However, we have been so resistant to deal with the problem, that our major current need requires technological solutions. Most importantly, we need to stop the production of the greenhouse gas sources of climate disruption. And at this stage, we likely also will need ways in which to safely remove carbon dioxide (amongst other gases) from the atmosphere; most of the possible means of geoengineering a cooler planet as simply too unexplored, and consequently of high risk to unexpected, and dangerous, outcomes.

This article describes a process that is still in the developmental stages, but likely can be safely scaled up to global levels for safe permanent removal. Unfortunately, part of the developmental process is currently through the US Department of Energy, and thus will likely require approval by the new Trump administration.

20170109 The Vertical Farm

One of the major needs of our growing world population will be reliable food production. This article describes a fascinating process, utilizing aeroponic farming (more efficient than hydroponic) in vertical layers, again likely one that can be scaled to global levels. To quote from the article:

a complex of two hundred buildings, each twenty stories high and measuring eighty feet by fifty feet at its base, situated in some wide-open outlying spot . . . could grow enough vegetables and rice to feed everybody who will be living in New York City in the year 2050.

The footprint of such an buildings would only be a few city blocks, yet provide food for many millions. Amazing. (Incidentally, typical of The New Yorker, there are a number of cartoons scattered throughout the article. Enjoy.)

20170111 Your Breakfast Is About to Take a Weird Turn

Again in the line of food production, this article describes some of the many ways in which genetically-modified organisms are contributing to our culture. Although I have some reservations concerning GMO processes (the underlying safety is still poorly explored — but for me it will take several hundred years to have adequate information; I also recognize that modern technology offers fascinating opportunities.

GMO yeast are now able to produce what is likely to be an adequate “milk,” with 98% less water consumption and 65% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It remains to be seen as to what such substitutes will offer, but as indicated earlier, it is one of the fascinating technological advances that may offer considerable relief of the consequences of our culture.

Now some comments.

From my perspective, the problem of technology is that it is both potentially part of the solution and part of the problem. Modern technology is both dazzling, and distracting from the issues with which we need to deal.

Even one hundred years ago, many major philosophers (Bredyeav, Ellul, Lewis — see my book Acedia for details) recognized that technology was dehumanizing and took on a life of its own, distracting from the issues of how to have a mature culture. Even at its best, technology is a means to reduce greenhouse gases, perhaps also to reduce cultural impact in other ways — but technology does not manage our incessant need for consumer products, nor over-population. On the force field of change, technology moves us away from negativity, but does not move us to a vision of who or how we want to be as a culture.

A final reference, then, on some cultural movement — an interview with several individuals who are engaged in civil disobedience, to which I append an open letter to former President Obama written by one of these individuals.

We have a choice as to how we live our values. As indicated earlier, I believe that civil disobedience is a necessary exploration in our current cultural psychosis.

 

A Major CO2 Storage Advance

We need major advances like this in carbon drawdown.
We need major advances like this in carbon drawdown.

A very important post today, but we need more than technology: Iceland Carbon Dioxide Storage Project Locks Away Gas, and Fast. We are approaching a time when the technological issues of climate change will be resolved. The process described is fairly quick and cheap, and uses routine technology, and it can be scaled up: there’s lots of porous basaltic rock in sea beds, and though it needs lots of water, sea water will do just fine. It will take time to develop, but feasible.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, the technological issues are the least important aspect of global warming. Important, yes, but climate change is essentially only a symptom of our hubris as a human species. Until we resolve the emotional issues that underlie climate change, we are simply likely to create another way of destroying ourselves. In the past hundred years, we have had the threat of nuclear holocaust, loss of biodiversity with extensive species extinction, overpopulation, threats of mass starvation, risk of major sea level rise, only some of which are related to global warming.

Resolving the technological issues of climate change will likely be easy compared to these other issues. What will it take for us to mature as a species? Probably catastrophe such as we cannot yet imagine!

This post was originally submitted to Facebook 2016 June 11.

Gamification

The games of advertising, such power.
The games of advertising, such power.

These posts are likely to be quite random in their content, at least for a while. I read a lot, and am often reactive to the content, especially when the content illustrates what I consider the insanity of our culture. Here is what I came across this morning: gamification, the latest gimmickry to sell you what you don’t want. For me, as a culture we are like teenagers who have not yet learned a sense of perspective, who are spaced out on the hype of experience. I often wonder if, as a species, we are capable of maturity.

This post was originally on my Facebook of 20160602.

Off-Shore Fracking

A technological dinosaur, inappropriate to global warming
A technological dinosaur, inappropriate to global warming

Hi folks. It is my intention to engage in the issues of climate change, especially those related to the emotional maturity of our culture. One of my struggles in retirement has been that of what do I do with my skills, my proficiencies gained over 25 years of being a therapist. We are so badly in need of maturing as a culture — frequently I feel powerless in the face of the cultural pressures that keep us trapped in the obvious duplicity.

Many people are focused on moving us to health; I want to be one of them. My skill set is that of encouraging emotional growth. So …

Once I get better organized, on most days I will make a comment or two. Sometimes I will link to articles I believe to be important. Here is one: “Off-shore fracking will have no significant impact …” What insanity to disturb the earth’s crust in an area where the risk of earthquakes is high! And even if the risk is not significant, why ignite such controversy in a world that must become carbon neutral?

This post was originally on my Facebook of 20160601

Energy Production and Storage

Progress!
Progress!

Two important posts summarize for me that we are moving towards much more efficient energy utilization:

  • David Suzuki’s summary of feed-in tariffs, which make small scale, local production both feasible and cost-effective, and
  • ThinkProgress’s summary on lithium-ion battery technology, somewhat speculative but still very likely to develop, making energy storage much cheaper and feasible.

Both are important indicators that we will likely stabilize global warming within the next century.

My questions remain as to the quality of life for my grand-children. There are still many uncertainties as to whether or not we have passed major tipping points (and the usual difficulty of finding trust-worthy data).

Sometimes I hate technology

Technology5

I awoke in the middle of last night with the thought that I hate technology, and to a certain extent that is true. In my recent attempts to take my work to a broader domain, I recognize how much I am hidden behind layers and layers of equipment that I do not easily understand. Not only am I lost in the equipment, but also the intersubjectivity of relationship is also lost to me. I don’t like it, but my options are limited.

Years ago, when I was an anesthetist, I made a commitment to myself that I would not use machinery that I could not take apart, and fix myself when necessary. I can no longer keep that commitment (not for years now; I could in the early days of computers — almost anyway).

For a long time, I have been saying to myself: “Technology is wonderful — when it works. And when it doesn’t, it is dehumanizing.” It is a tyrant that demands attention, principally because I want a particular outcome, and the “only (?)” way I can get that outcome is to engage with the technology. This is not completely true, but enough so that it irks me when there are problems. Perhaps it is my age (I have been told that younger people multi-task the issues much more easily) — but I think it is more that that.

The major difficulty I encounter is that technology forces me into a particular mode of response. This is especially so with computer software — for example, this blog software gives me only limited ways to format text, and repeatedly indicates that my style is sometimes abysmal. (Of course, this is according to the experts, whomever they are. One of my definitions of expert is x-spurt, an unknown quantity of a drip under high pressure.)

In addition, there is the learning curve of using the software. At some level, software updates attempt to forestall this difficulty; Microsoft Word, for example, has vastly improved over the years, but then there is the learning curve of keeping up with the updates. At some point, I simply give up, and “accept” the limitations.

But there is a bigger picture that I want to address.

I am aware from my PhD research of the warnings against technology by major philosophers of the 20th century (e.g., Berdyaev, Lewis, Ellul). Berdyaev, writing in 1934, noted “We are confronted by a fundamental paradox: without technique [technology] culture is impossible . . . yet a final victory of technique . . . brings the destruction of culture.” He also noted “we are living in an age when technique predominates over wisdom, in the ancient noble sense of that word.”

This engagement with technology really began with the Scientific Revolution, and the birth of the modern era, in the 16th century. Largely initiated by Copernicus and Descartes, solidified by Bacon, science took on a new role. Tarnas (1991) notes that “Bacon equated knowledge with power . . . [A potent visionary, he] persuaded future generations to fulfill his revolutionary program: the scientific conquest of nature for man’s welfare and God’s glory.” In my book Acedia, I suggested that “with the decline of religion, God’s glory got lost, and man’s conquest has led ultimately . . . to the dark side of humanity, and the problems of climate change.”

I am not suggesting here that technology is intrinsically bad, but that technology has allowed us as a species to express our hubris and our greed. Our technology is incredible — in my lifetime alone, we have had the first atomic bombs; we have placed individuals on the moon; we have computers; we have gene-splicing and GMOs; the list goes on. But we also have massive destruction of the environment, the still-present risk of nuclear destruction, global warming, et cetera — this list also goes on. And we have the duplicity of our culture, expressed by such as the political controversies of the past 50 years, usually as the desire to accumulate wealth as a result of our technology.

It is not technology that is the issue; it is our hubris and our greed. We must mature beyond this; the risks to our species are now too great. Somehow we must find ways of moving forward, keeping many of the benefits of technology, yet cautious of how invasive it can be.

References:

Berdyeav, N. (1972). Man and machine. In C. Mitcham, & R. Mackey (Eds.), Philosophy and technology: Readings in the philosophical problems of technology (C. O. Bennigsen, Trans., pp. 203-213). New York, NY: The Free Press. (Quoted text is from pages 204 – 207).

MacQuarrie, D. (2012). Acedia: The Darkness Within, and the darkness of Climate Change. Bloomington, IN, USA: AuthorHouse. (Quoted text is from page 71).

Tarnas, R. (1991). The passion of the Western mind: Understanding the ideas that have shaped our world view. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. (Quoted text is from pages 273 – 275).