Waiter…There’s a Human in my Soup!

“Technology can  thus be employed to buy us time during which we can attend to the fundamental, fascinating building block of the social sciences-ourselves. (Douthwiate, p. 32) is exactly the kind of mindset the Huesemanns and Johnston warn us about.  “As a band-aid solution involving sophisticated systems, technological fixes are argued to both underestimate and inadequately solve complex problems” (Johnston, p 53) succinctly sums up this author’s negative views on technology as a cure all. The Huesemanns are even more critical, stating that science and technology has actually created greater challenges than it has solved and the task at hand is to “overcome out ignorance in dealing with these self-created disasters” (Huesemann & Huesemann, p. 15).  In short, both Johnston and the Huesemanns, warn that technological fixes, while addressing current issues, have a large potential for long-term negative consequences.

In my opinion, the reason technological fixes have potentially negative repercussions is they are, in general, narrowly focused on the well-being of mankind.  Over time we have risen to, in at least our minds, the apex species.  Our survival is of the utmost importance to the survival of the world, which given many of our decisions is contrary to the truth.  We do not see ourselves as a cog in the machine, but as the machine.  Though we may think of ourselves as a measured, well intended species, I see mankind as a more impulsive, reactionary force.  We move forward in fits and starts of advancing our needs and then responding to the negative consequences of the unforseen results.  Technology is the sword we wield to hack our way out of the jungle, only to find because we did not take the time to first look at a compass, we are actually heading deeper into the heart of darkness.

One thought on “Waiter…There’s a Human in my Soup!”

  1. William, I agree with the idea of humans thinking of ourselves as “the machine” rather than a simple cog. I might add onto that by saying we’re not even a cog in the machine, we’re a gear laying somewhere on the corner of the floor. Whether or not we appoint ourselves as “stewards of the Earth”, the depressing reality is that the Earth has carried on fine without us for eons, and will continue to should we ever go extinct. More often than not, we are saving the planet from our mistakes. Though species also flourished and died out long before we came around, it was always due to a force without sentience. Perhaps the fact that we know better is the very crux of the issue, and is the hardest thing to come to terms with. The idea I found the most interesting in your post is the notion that humans are primarily reactionary beings instead of logical. I would wager that we don’t solely operate on reason or emotion, but rather we use a combination of the two. Still, one has to wonder if appealing to emotion is always a bad thing. After all, if humans saw no value in other animals, wouldn’t we have wiped out species like the giant panda already? Factually speaking, pandas have little bearing on the ecosystem, and not much would change in China’s environment if we pulled the plug on conservation efforts. Even if you tell people this, the majority will probably still advocate for pandas. They are of no utilitarian value to us, yet we still see them as animals worth keeping around because we simply find them adorable. Likewise, people want to protect wolves not just to preserve the environment, but because we see something inherently majestic and powerful about wolves as well. In this light, the emotional reaction we have towards these animals is beneficial to their survival. I do think we often have very good intentions, but our intentions get muddied if we don’t allow the logical side to mediate the “monkey brain”.

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