25 April 2018
Author: Martin Raymond
The push towards populism is part of it, but a bigger part of it is our own middle of the road liberalism that allows people off the hook when they ‘reasonably’ suggest that technology has gone too far, that progress is too fast. Let’s be clear, lentil munching won’t save the planet. But science and technology will. The facts speak for themselves: average life expectancy across the world has risen from 31 (18th century) to 71 today, while the proportion of humanity living in extreme poverty has fallen by 90%. At the turn of the 20th century women could vote in one country, now there is only one country in which they can’t vote.
Yes, there is still work to be done, but to believe that we can cure cancer, tackle climate change, avert Alzheimer’s, or capture the God particle by being cautious and reticent about science and technology, isn’t just foolish, it is dangerous, and playing into the hands of those New Luddites who are increasingly using ‘reasonable’ argument to slow the pace of progress, or modify its ambitions.
We need to be clear with them (and with ourselves); progress isn’t a smorgesboard you can pick or choose from. It’s an all or nothing journey that requires us to take risks, make mistakes, ask questions, certainly, but not to shy away from said answers when those answers require is to think faster, commit quicker.
So the next time you worry about whether or not technology is making our children stupid, or the world less liveable, consider for a moment how stupid that thought sounds, and then stop thinking it.
For more on why today's consumers are increasingly questioning our relationship with technology, read our Morality Recoded macrotrend.