Reckless Use of Technology
Stephen H. Unger
February 20, 2013
It is obvious that modern technology has brought many important benefits to humanity. The work of civil engineers on water supplies and sewage treatment has nearly eliminated diseases that were major causes of death among people of all ages. Antibiotic medications have made a number of formerly widespread fatal diseases curable. MRIs and sophisticated X-ray procedures such as CAT scans have made possible better diagnosis and, hence, treatment of a wide range of diseases and injuries.
Computers and the internet have been an enormous boon to scholarship in every field, greatly facilitating calculations and, perhaps more important, allowing quick, easy access to all kinds of information. Materials science has led to the development of a vast array of textiles, plastics, etc. useful in many ways. The list of beneficial advances in technology is endless.
But there is a serious down side. Along with the benefits, there are problems that, if not attended to, can lead to great harm. And there are good reasons to be concerned about the way such matters are dealt with. The bad news is that, even as the number of technologically sophisticated products grows at an increasing rate, the societal mechanisms for ensuring that they are not significantly harmful are being phased out.