Resistance to Technology
Technology. What would we do without it? Probably have a lot less fun and have a lot shorter life span. Think about it, you couldn’t watch Dawson’s Creek or Friends every week. That would mean that the lives of millions of teenage girls in America would cease to exist. And yet there are still some people who are afraid of new technology. They’re afraid of a technology that could improve the lives of Americans just because they saw a couple of science fiction movies where an extremely unlikely situation occurred and all hell broke loose. When in reality precautions are made to ensure that things like that won’t happen. Super-intelligent sharks won’t become smarter than humans and nearly escape to rule the world like they did in the movie Deep Blue Sea.
One technology that people seem to most fear is cloning. Specifically one of my friends raised a good point about the subject, she said that in her high school they had a debate about cloning and the side against cloning stated that if there was an exact genetic clone of yourself and this clone went out and committed a whole bunch of crimes, then how would they know who did it unless you had an alibi. Another thing that people seem to be afraid of when it comes to cloning is the religious aspect. Many see cloning as being too close to “playing god”. They don’t think that specifically sorting out genes and selecting which traits their children will have is morally correct. But there’s a flipside to this in that if we can select which traits our children will have, we may be able to eliminate hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. It all depends on how the question is phrased. If I were to ask somebody, “Should we be able to change the genetic traits of our children”, they would most likely respond negatively. However, if the question was phrased as “Should we be able to genetically cure abnormalities in our children”, most people would change their minds. This just goes to show that most people don’t really have any idea what they believe when it comes to cloning and gene therapy. And what they think they believe tends to come from other people. Maybe if people were more educated and better understood subjects like this, they would better be able to make their own decisions.
Another aspect that people seem to resist technology is how many people fear losing their jobs because of a new technology. For example, this summer when I was working at Polaris Industries in Roseau MN, I saw many machines that have taken the place of human workers. In the welding department they use robots to do a lot of the spot welds. While this is more efficient and creates a higher output for the company, the robots took away about 50 jobs when they were put into service. But if you look at the specific area where I worked (metal paint) machines actually created jobs. Before Polaris built the metal paint area they used to have all their parts painted in another city and then shipped them up here. But after they added metal paint to the plant there were able to create 50 new jobs including mine. So there are good and bad sides to this issue also.
Probably one of the most misunderstood technologies is the Internet. Some people believe that the Internet is the source of all that is wrong in the world and it’s just a bunch of porn pages. When in reality the Internet is a source of much of the information in the world. “Well, DUH. Of course we have access to pornography on the Internet. Just like we have access to it in bookstores and movie theaters and cable television. This isn't exactly news anymore. It's called free expression, and in theory, at least when it concerns press freedoms, journalists are in favor of it. Or maybe free expression is only for journalists?”(Block) Yes there are web pages out there that have pornography on them but it’s a person’s choice on whether or not they want to visit those pages. Just like it’s the person’s choice on whether or not they want to watch soft-core porn on Cinemax. And then there’s always the world-fearing mother like Kyle’s mom on South Park. The woman who believes that it’s the world that’s corrupting her little boy but nobody forced her little boy to see the porn. Maybe if parents would take a little more responsibility and punish their child when they do something wrong instead of blaming something else, we might have a few less problems in our society.
But not all technology is resisted. When taking a look at all the new medical technologies that have come about in the last 50 years, I am amazed at what we can accomplish. We have implanted an artificial heart in humans. We have cured countless diseases and have preventive measures for most of the rest. Who knows how many of the people sitting in our classroom would even be alive if it wasn’t for all the medical advances. Most anyone who was born more than a month premature might not be around. The average life expectancy would be a lot shorter because we are able to stop things like some forms of cancer from spreading throughout the body and we can perform bypass surgery on people who have clogged arteries.
What I’ve noticed for the most part is that if a technology doesn’t benefit a person, then they don’t really care that it’s even there. Like if I had a cancer that was easily curable with medicine, I’d be pretty thankful that the treatment existed to help me. But if I didn’t have it or know anybody who had it, I might not even care that it was around. Or if I wasn’t so hopelessly dependant on the Internet to keep in touch with my friends and for entertainment, I might not be for free speech on the net. And just like if I didn’t have Mononucleosis right now, I wouldn’t be wishing there was a cure or treatment so much.
1. Block, Marylaine. My Words Mouth http://www.qconline.com/myword/netfear.html Nov. 1996 vol. 2 #19
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