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Technology Versus Progress

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Dr. Ian Malcolm

While it was composed for a fictional universe, I feel this quote describes the present perfectly. We have witnessed in the last one hundred years more technological breakthroughs and innovations than the previous hundred generations before did combined. It is with that in mind I wanted to pen a more meditative piece based more on opinion. I want to dispel a common fallacy in the mind of the modern man. For there is one fallacy, one conflation, so egregious and engrained within all societies even the most intelligent would struggle to find it without being told where to look. This fallacy? The hasty generalization that allow for the conflation of the terms technology and progress.

There are many wonderful things about technology. Medical technology has saved countless lives of all ages. Agricultural technology has allowed crop yields so many times multiplied the human population numbers in the billions. Transportation technology has made the journeys’ of low survival and month long trekking into mere hour inconveniences that even the lower class in most countries can easily afford. I could go on and on. In these ways and countless more people mentally chalk progress and technology up in their minds as being one in the same. However while technology can indeed bring progress, the terms are not interchangeable as many assume.

Progress is not a uniform metric. As an example consider artificial pregnancies. In this totally fictitious and not at all really happening example a person can simply mail order a child either from their own DNA or just factory standard. Technologically speaking the device is amoral, meaning it is not inherently good or bad. It could be used to save the life of a prematurely born baby, or alternatively it could be used for a nation state to fully realize an army of sub humans to undertake menial labor. The technology may have advanced, but many would argue that we have lost progress morally.

Which brings up the concept of progress. So often in society we feel compelled to dispel what was old in favor of what is new. We are made fun of and even ridiculed for those traditions, ethics, values, and warnings that were passed to us from the previous generations. In the modern era it seems in many cases the only ideal and value of any importance is to have none. The modern man is to be as pliable and malleable as possible in the name of it. Tell me, what do they define as progress? Is progress simply quantified by how far technology can push us away from whatever ethical moorings our forefathers provided us? Is the goal simply to conflate technology and progress to the point people cannot be against one without also being against the other? Is it the planned result to designate progress so high as to replace any inclusion of other viewpoints?

It is this mindset, this cognitive dissonance, that I see so commonly on display. It is just assumed that anyone who wishes to be any fan of progress must also be one who has no conscience, or at least not one that is offensive to anyone anywhere at any time. People exalt the concepts of diversity and inclusion as the bringers of progress while also in the same breath calling those with any true convictions against it. The terms inclusion and thought diversity are seen are prerequisites to even be considered a proponent of “progress” in its current form. The very concept of inclusion itself however is so badly misrepresented as a definition I fear it may be irreparable. Inclusion by its actual definition is being able to bring something or someone else into a collective and providing them the same treatment as all others are afforded. It does not mean you have to agree on everything they believe or you are somehow not inclusive of their views, and it certainly does not mean you are the enemy of progress. Tell me then if that were true who’s views must always bend? For this to be realized must it be then that nobody truly believes anything? Surely!

This warped view of what it means to be inclusive and thereby to be for progress of morality is what drives the current tides of global society. Nations are called upon to abandon their traditions, people their gods, and scientists their virtue. All of this of course in the name of progress and to make way for the technology that makes it possible. Instead of using morality to constrain technology we instead do the opposite: expanding our ambiguous morality as technology marches on. What then are we even progressing towards? Where or what is the end goal so tantalizing we are to give up everything to attain it? Why must we be so willing to synonymize the terms technology and progress? Insofar as I can see, there is no such goal aside from to press onward with technology and all other fields in the name of progress.

I am not here to simply malign society from a subjective viewpoint. It’s not my style nor am I a fan of it as evidenced by how foreign an opinion piece is to my pen. I simply write with hopes. I hope my writing prompts you to seek out your own answers. I hope you are able to quantify what “progress” actually means to you. I hope you discover, if you have not already, where your morals and values lie. I hope you learn to appreciate that inclusion does not mean sacrificing of your own opinions or morals. I hope you share these questions with others and prompt them to open their minds as well. Above all I hope you take this as a message to think critically and to not be afraid of your own gut feelings or fact based opinions. In the days that are to come you will want to know what you believe for yourself and not what you are told to believe. Technologies once unimaginable are nearing completion. Yet the public still carries on, oblivious to what is to come. There will be in the near future a reckoning with technological “progress” and people’s own morality the like’s of which humanity has never seen. You will want to know what you believe before that time comes.

Technology != Progress