Is the Brave New World something to work towards?

Douthwaite gives a strong conviction in his writing for the perusal of solutions to society’s problems through technology and engineering. The reasons why people call for technology to be increasingly used to solve the world’s problems are various and can be presented in quite palatable messages that the public can buy.  Among these are that scientists are not hindered by politics, are dedicated to improving the human experience, and are not bound by moral biases. However these “technocrats” often fail to see that man has created almost all of its own problems that they face today. The other two authors would argue against Douthwaite’s ideas because they are inherently detrimental to mankind.  As was stated in one of the readings,”there is no such thing as a free lunch.” The other two authors would argue that just as science and technology produce positives they also inherently produce negatives that are either overlooked or not perceived until years later. The idea of a world ran by engineers and technology can seem appealing until it comes time to solve the problems it creates.  For instance the usage of fossil fuels has created a leviathan of problems that must be addressed such as CO2 emissions, oil spills, oil wars, and much more. The splitting of the atom created the possibility for nuclear energy and nuclear holocaust . The use of technology is a utilitarian idea at the core in which it seeks to do the most good for the most number of people. The authors Huesemann and Johnson argued that while it may seem like a noble venture it also creates problems, perhaps problems that outweigh the benefit.  For one utilitarianism does the most good for the most number of people, but that also means that up to 49% of the people have something that is not good for them. The problem with this line of thinking is that who are these engineers to decide what is good and virtuous for the majority of the people at large?


Technological “fixes” create problems either unintentionally or the problems are overlooked from the start because the benefits are thought to outweigh them.  These fixes create problems due to the fact that technological advances open up ideas and innovations that before were impossible to fathom. In doing so they also have problems that were also impossible to predict or fathom.  When people began to use motor carriages that burned fossil fuels they probably were not predicting that almost one hundred years later the climate and geopolitical landscape would be shaped in part of the oil industry. Technological fixes should not prevent us from trying to solve problems through science, but it should be done ethically and in moderation with great consideration given to the possible repercussions.  It is hard to answer this question from the perspective of someone living in an age where society seems to depend on technology, but there are cans of worms that should perhaps go unopened.


Leave a Reply