Saturday, August 20, 2005

The dawn of a new era with both risks and rewards

Few will argue about the benefits (eg: publishing for the masses) and detriments (eg: publishing for the terrorists) of the Internet. All advancements challenge us to balance the risk and rewards presented by the two-edged sword of techonolgy.

Of particular interest to Porkopolis are the developments in nanotechnology, medicine and their eventual convergence.

The Rice University press release entitled Nano coalition unveils environmental, health and safety database announces the launching of "the world's first online database of scientific findings related to the benefits and risks of nanotechnology." The first entry in the database is entitled Nanoparticles as a drug delivery system. It doesn't take much effort to think of benevolent and malevolent uses for this development.

When positing extraterrestrial life, astronomer Frank Drake incorporated the possibility that an intelligent civilization would succumb to the technology it developed into his now famous Drake Equation. Scientists running SETI note that the discovery of civilizations older and more advanced than our own bodes well for our potential long term survival.

As we accelerate into our future with ever more double-edged technologies, we will be ever more in need of an ancient and nearly universal philosophy, The Golden Rule, to save us from ourselves. If SETI does find a more advanced civilization, it would be interesting to learn if it survived by applying the 'treat others as you would want to be treated' philosophy to its own long term survival.

Be it in pork barrel spending or the misapplication of technology, we short shrift ethics at our peril.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.

Our ethics should be evolving to face these new dilemmas. Instead they are devolving. This is not a good thing.


August 21, 2005 at 11:26 PM  

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