Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The good and bad of technology

Anyone who has talked to me or read my old blog knows that I am not fond of RFID tags. However, I can admit that there may be good things about them. There may be ways that time and money can be saved by using these and other technological gadgets. And isn't saving time and money a good thing? Well, yes, society teaches us that these things are good. I would argue that there are higher considerations.

Technology can be wonderful and I am a happy benificiary of progress, from my computer hobby, cell phone and DVD player to the car I drive and the job I have. But technology and science have no morals on their own. It is up to individuals to impose a morality and ethics on science. For example, it is not a question of if we can clone humans (not tested but a good likelihood, at this point), but whether we should clone humans that occupies lawmakers around the world. This is not an idle topic, but something we are currently wrestling with in public dialogue (for more on the topic, read the following Rednova.com article).

So, what is the answer? Should we clone humans? Right now, I'm not going to touch that question. Perhaps at a later date. I bring this up to illustrate that point that science doesn't much care for ethics. Humans as individuals and as societies struggle to direct science, and sometimes cannot come up with a satisfactory answer. Look at abortion technology and the debate that has raged for years and years about that topic.

Where does this leave us with RFID tags? What morality do they have? On their own, none. However, we should not just adopt this technology without examining its impact on privacy and human dignity. I recently read a CNET article whose author feels this technology will be adopted because we are lazy people and anything to make our lives easier will be worth it. Is this true? I shudder to think it may very well be true. Would we sell ourselves to corporations and governments for the promise of an easier life? Is ease our ultimate goal in life? Frightening thought, that.


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