Politics, Religion, and Science

According to Joseph Priestly, governments and religions should fear air pumps and electrical machines because they are signs of a much more sophisticated time, that will get rid of old political and theological structures. Priestly wrote, “This rapid process of knowledge will, I doubt not, be the means, under God, of extirpating all error and prejudice, and of putting an end to all undue and usurped authority in the business of religion, as well as science”(Johnson 148). It’s hard to understand what Priestly is trying to say here, but I believe he means that this great scientific movement is in a way God’s work. Johnson says that, “to Priestly a much more sensible embodiment of the divine than a man crucified almost two thousand years before”(Johnson 148).  This new wave of science gave a much better reason for God than any of the old reasonings of religion. These governments and religions should be afraid because science is going to completely redefine how they work and if they are even going to exist.


Johnson’s work does shed some light on a few technological inventions that may have social and political consequences. First of all, new machines in the work place are taking many jobs that once belonged to humans. At car factories, robots now do most of the work when it comes to putting together the vehicle, and at most McDonald’s restaurants there are now screens where you can place your order, instead of having to talk to an employee. The most significant research that could cause massive social and political consequences has to be artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence or A.I. has stirred up a large debate amongst scientist and politicians. A.I. has already begun to show up in today’s world in self-driving cars, search engines, and in your smartphone as Siri or Google. Right now artificial intelligence is at a controllable level, but there could be a point in the near future where A.I. becomes more cognitively advanced than us, which could be a huge problem if we apply it to weapons, cars, and everything we use in our day-to-day lives. Just think if we lost control of an autonomous weapon of mass destruction, millions of lives could be lost. What if we program the A.I. to do something beneficial for us, but it ends up doing something devastating to our ecosystems. These are just two of the modern technologies that I believe could have social and political consequences.