A Safer World

Technology is a purely and distinctly human invention. It’s not separate from who we are. It’s not the confusion associated with programming a VCR or using Facebook. Technology is the process that we pursue in order to make our lives collectively better. This process is in out nature; it’s the reason that we survive as a species. In fact there’s little difference between the hand axes we produced 50,000 years ago and the Internet. Both speed our access to vital resources. The ax brought us meat and the Internet brings us information and commerce. Without either we would not be.

Paul Virilio professed that with each new technological invention a new paradigm of accidents associated with that technology arises. His example is that it would have been tough to die in a train collision before trains. He goes on to discuss how technology, in an attempt to mitigate accidents speeds itself up so as to invent solutions to these integral accidents. But by doing so simply creates further paradigms of potential integral accidents, like being fired for the misguided “everyone” email.

Yet I believe that there is no option but forward into technological creation. I believe that since technology is the fundamental nature of humanity we have to account for the fact that people are the ones creating each new technology. So then each new set of internal accidents that arise from the creation of a new technology reduces the intensity of integral accidents over time. 

Just look at our population. If the intensity of integral accidents didn’t reduce with each new technology then we would see our population remain much the same. Yet, instead, it grows. 100 years ago factories were places of pumping steam and whirling belts powering massive gears, all of which were dangerous. Today, the robots that do the building sit in cages where people can’t reach.  Even facing global warming, economic collapse and super-viruses I believe that technology will continue to reduce the potential harm of the integral accidents over time. Each new technological development creates an safer world for people to live in. I believe this to be deeply true.

For companies this is based on cost analysis, for inventors it’s based on problem-solving, for us regular people the invention of new technology has moved from removing the dangerous to easing the annoyance.

Where does that take us? Do we eventually create a world that is infinitely safe? Do we want a safer world or is the human experience no longer about our struggle to survive?