I would like to contest the claims made in Josh Fraser’s article ‘An argument for technology,’ printed in the Jan. 11 edition of the Gazette. The article states that technological development is society’s inevitable path, and encourages us to embrace a future in silicon chips. This is a position that I find debatable and dangerous, due to his position on technology and his use of the terms ‘progress’ and ‘inevitable.’
Though some of the technological developments Fraser refers to, such as medical advances, are indeed useful, many—social networking, gigapixels, cellular data— are not necessary. This therefore calls into question his assertion that they are part of an inevitable path.
If Progress, the constant technological development of the world, is the sole watch-word of the future, we are at risk. Progress— technological progress— is not the salvation of society. It was thought once that industrialisation and capitalism were the keys to social development, and the world, both natural and social, has paid for those suppositions. Fraser states in his article, ‘When you realise how much of our lifestyle and livelihood are a direct result of technology, you must recognise that it is inevitable’— but he does not acknowledge that that lifestyle is not inevitable.
What Fraser’s article mentions at the beginning but does not touch on again is that technology takes time to develop, and resources. This includes not only money, but materials whose extraction is often hugely detrimental to the environment. ‘Progress’ has been the term used to justify the destruction of the natural world since the Industrial Revolution began, and a change in direction is necessary.
Technology is neither the problem nor the solution, and certainly not the only choice for the future. The long, demanding process required to produce these items is morally questionable; surely we do not need cellphones so badly as to think they are worth the environmental cost. We need to think (in a way that exceeds our individualistic, materialistic culture) about what we mean by Progress.