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Are we wise enough to use technology without it biting back?

Many technologies have caused unintended consequences. There is a book about this topic "Why things bite back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences." I have not read it. Have you?

For example some of the side effects of automobile use are air pollution, expensive transportation, stuff being built farther apart, general lack of exercise in our society.

I realize a lot of anwers will be to the effect that it is an individuals choice. Think about the collective choices of what tecnonolgy society has adopted. Like the automobile some technologies are nearly mandatory to own in order to survive.

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    Feb 10 2013: That's a really good question, Brian --

    I think humans will always proceed with things too fast. It always turn out that scientists dig into something that was accepted too quickly and causing altered nature in some way that can influence human directly or indirectly.

    A hypothetical example:
    – Imagine in a few years that a huge breakthrough will show that in a study a person not having had medicine through their life and a person who had medicine many times against disease through their life will show the results that the person who experienced medicine mutated their genes way more often than the person who did not receive medicine (of course under much repetition of the study). Or maybe (I don't know if this has been proven) that the person who was medicated has a much less effective immune system. I mean some people believe that the more the immune system experiences, the more effective it will be against unknown disease.

    My point is maybe humans are a bit too fast with releasing technology before studying the effects or predicting them. Knowledge is both of strength and our weakness in that way, seeing as the knowledge gives us the courage to invent and release new things because of built self-esteem, but at the same time the lack of the same will have unexpected consequences that we could not predict due to the lack of knowledge as well.
    • Feb 13 2013: To oversimplify things I would put it this way.. that new inventions/technology are another ratcheting up of human power and how we deal with that power is where we get benefits or curses.

      I believe there is a strong belief in human progress. Progress tells us new technology is good and any unintended consequences with said technology can be solved with even more technology. Here in lies the root problem. (in my opinion)

      If we dont consider all technology neutral from the beginning than we won't investigate the unintended consequences.
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    W. Ying

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    Feb 9 2013: .
    Almost can never be wise enough!
    It is because:
    (1) Bio-evolution is so slow.
    (2) Human accuracy is so ultra-high.
  • Feb 11 2013: 1. The canon The wheel 2. The sailboat Whe Wheel basically we may have to look at pluses and minuses
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    Feb 10 2013: no we are not, we still kill each other, and nothing that is of higher intelligence will ever want to be controlled. And man will always want to control machines because we will be its creator
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    Feb 10 2013: 4G wireless. It's a great technology but only great if your live in a area where we built for it. Human hubs are where you will find technologies used first but as you move away from these hubs the technology levels drop back one.

    We've yet to see the full effect of 4G over a long period of time on the human body.
  • Feb 10 2013: Although technology has changed our life positively in many cases, we arent always conscious enough to use it wisely . Most of us look at the immediate benefits and rewards brought by the technology and often neglect long term consequences of using it. May it be use of an atom bomb or our daily use the electricity, we dont give much consideration to the damage done to the natural resources while using the technology. The use of technology mainly brings changes in external environment as well as it affects the lifestyle of human beings.

    Few of the studies by Mental Health Organisations indicate that the cases of depression are on the rise leading to the increasing feeling of loneliness among people. It's mainly due to the reduction in time spent in social activities with people surrounding us and inability to cope up with rapid changes brought by technology in our lives. It's really surprising to notice that people are feeling lonely inspite of a rapidly growing population and increasing opportunities provided by technology to communicate. It has taken thousands of years for humans to evolve the way we are at the moment. So it's not always possible for humans to cope up with the technological changes.
  • Feb 10 2013: Often, unintended consequences are actually anticipated, and are part of the cost/benefits calculation.

    Some unintended consequences are not anticipated, are never imagined until after the technology is widespread. It is very doubtful that we will ever be able to imagine, in advance, all of the consequences of new technologies. One big reason for this is that every new technology is used for secondary purposes. It is used in ways that were never imagined by the developers. For example, I doubt very much that the developers of the cell phone anticipated that they would be used by terrorists to trigger bombs.

    Technology will always bite back because humans use technology creatively.
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    Feb 10 2013: I am afraid, I am not. I already find it difficult to write a couple of pages in long hand.
  • Feb 9 2013: The development of technology is to some extent at the glory and mercy of past motivations and practices. More than anything else new technology is pushed and driven by potential profits for business entrepreneurs and the concurrence of law makers and regulators subject to their own limitations and interests.

    New technology offers considerable rewards with a minimal negative unexpected consequence. Most agree this is the case for most new advancements in technology. The potential negative aspects of the technology is weeded out by the specialized professionals at the development stage and in the implementation of such technology for a host of good business reasons.

    However, there is considerable activity involving living organisms which deserve tighter controls on the experiments and tighter controls in application due to the nature of the beast. Although the motive for such development or use of technology can seem compelling the negative consequences could become alarming and once loose in the environment could be difficult or impossible to contain due to their self reproducing nature. Ever expanding experiments and use of genetically modified organisms by specialist in the genetics and technology of biological evolution are on top of the list of what I expect could bite back with a vengeance. You don't have to be a biologist to appreciate how dangerous this experimental activity is, but it helps. The problem that most concerns me about GMOs' is that these induced changes can be incorporated into the native wild populations resulting in unintended detrimental effects that are not subject to being undone. It could be our greatest protection so far is that creating the desired patented organism and getting it to reproduce into a modified growing population is so difficult to accomplish.

    TED Talks and conversations have entered in on this concern about the development and use of such technology and the subject deserves more air time in my opinion
  • Feb 9 2013: The problem is that we stop looking for problems that we already have solutions for. This sounds dumb but actually the technological solutions we are making have down sides. When we try finding new solutions for already solved problems we may make better ones.

    We stopped thinking about effective individual private transportation since cars were invented but, in fact if we made other solutions, we wouldn't probably suffering from pollution, or obesity...

    That is why solving a problem in one way shouldn't stop us from looking for another solution.
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    Feb 9 2013: i would like to see a reliable study showing the ratio between indented and/or beneficial consequences vs unintended and/or harmful consequences. because it is easy to lament about the harms, while happily accept all the benefits. easy, but also dumb.
    • Feb 9 2013: I don't understand what this means "it is easy to lament about the harms, while happily accept all the benefits. easy, but also dumb."
  • Feb 9 2013: Sometimes sometimes not