We hear about technology almost every day. Unlike the concept of science, technology seems closer to us because we recognize that we live in it all the time. We even see it in new spaces we have to cross to streamline processes and shorten times. And we also hear about it when it is blamed for the distance between people, its depersonalization and its undesirable effects on life and the environment.
There are many uses for technology that we know of:
- Technology heals, but it also kills
- It educates but it also impoverishes
- Speeds up or complicates our lives
- And brings people closer together or distances them from each other
It seems that there are technophile and technophobic positions that we debate between while living with it. This is not new, because technology has been around since the first hominid picked up a piece of wood and used it to defend his children against animals or to kill a neighbor to take away his resources. That piece of wood was already technological.
“Technology” comes from the Greek τέχνη (pronounced “téchnē”) and means art, craft or skill. The ability to transform or combine something already existing to build something new or else give it another function. And this capacity for transformation can be intuitive. As is the case in our current societies it is a knowledge that comes directly from the field of science.
CREATION OF THE TECHNOLOGY
We invite you to watch this video to familiarize yourself with the complexity of technology. The video shows the interweaving of previous knowledge and integrated devices, put together.
We don’t always stop to think about why technology is the way it is, why it does what it does, and how it does it. Just as we have seen that science is made by people whose interests are not always humanitarian or ethical, so tech has inherited some of its characteristics from science. Science depends on ideology.
THE ETHICAL DIMENSION OF TECHNOLOGY
This ideological dimension of technology has been recognized and discussed since the 19th century. Especially when tech developments were projected from research into industry but had negative effects on citizens. The Industrial Revolution is a case in point. Science and technology contributed to the economic and medical growth of the population, but their benefits were not evenly distributed.
In the 20th century, this crisis was exacerbated when advances in physics were hijacked by military tech. It became apparent that the same technology that could be used to discover new frontiers in space and cure diseases could also lead to massive deaths, as in the cases of:
At the beginning of the 21st century, new cases such as genetic engineering were added, with both positive and negative effects on human life and the protection of the environment.
These cases invite us to reflect on a less insignificant aspect of the use of technology: its ethical dimension. Oscar Varsavsky (1920 – 1976) was one of the Argentine scientists and technologists who, as early as the 1960s, addressed this issue as an inevitable aspect of technology. Varsavsky’s work, first published in 1974, addresses one of the most urgent challenges in the history of science and technology in developing countries, namely:
- Defining their own style of technological production.
ARE TECHNOLOGIES DEHUMANIZING US?
Technologies are often associated with everyday electronic devices, which in turn make us less human and less sensitive to social context. Yet technologies do what we ask them to do, and in that sense they obey us. So we can assume that we humans are the ones who dehumanize ourselves. We blame technologies for their constant influence, as if we have no freedom of choice.