A Fear of Advancement

Governments and religions should fear air pumps not because of what an air pump is, but because it is a sign of technological advancement. Priestly claims that the rapid process of knowledge will put an end to undue and usurped authority (p. 148). Essentially, advances in knowledge and technology lead to societal changes, and according to Priestly, the further technology advances, the less prejudice and error will be involved with such societal systems as government and religion. In the book, Birmingham exploded in population and wealth due to the advancements of coal energy. This rapid growth lead to a massive city that had no proper representation in parliament (p. 167). The technological advances simply outpaced the political system of the time.

Like Johnson’s work, there are plenty of examples of research and technology that could change our society entirely given enough time. One example of such an advancement is in automation. As time goes on, it is likely that more and more jobs will become automated, or at the very least, the technology for automating many jobs will exist. However, the amount of jobs created by automation is likely not going to be equal to the amount it creates, meaning that there will be a net loss in terms of occupations. This is a problem that our society, and many others, will need to deal with in one way or another. Dealing with this problem will almost undoubtedly cause change in society, for better or worse. A society that fails to change as technology advances is one that is far more likely to fail.

1 thought on “A Fear of Advancement”

  1. I like the points you make in the first paragraph about how they should fear the things, the air pumps and electrical machines themselves, but should fear what those represent. Though I didn’t necessarily make the same connection in my own blog post, I like the way you worded it out here and explained what you meant, because it’s a very astute argument to make. I also like the connection you made that the technology outpaced the political climate of the time because I think that might be part of whats happening today with things like climate change and clean energy and it’s important to notice these things. I also would never have made the connection you did about automation. It’s a wonderful point to make because it is indeed a very real problem we might have to face in our lifetime, where automation takes over too much and there might be no more jobs for us there. Overall, great job, loved the points you made.

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