Our success is killing us

Our success is killing us

The aims of technology are achieved and our chances for survival are fatally diminished. The fault is not in our technology but in us. The fault lies within human society.

McLuhan made us aware of the fact that technology is an extension of our self. I would say that we and also our ecosystem are both gestalts, a whole, wherein there are complex feedback loops that permit self healing and various means that protect us from our self.

The dictionary defines gestalt as meaning a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts. When we interfere with the gestalt, i.e. our ecosystem or our self, we are changing some one or some few of the feedback loops that help us maintain equilibrium. Such modifications, if not fully understood, can send the gestalt into a mode wherein equilibrium can no longer be maintained.

In 1919 Ernest Rutherford announced to a shocked world “I have been engaged in experiments which suggest that the atom can be artificially disintegrated. If it is true, it is far greater importance than a war.” Today’s stem-cell research could, in my opinion, be considered as more important than a war and also more important than Rutherford’s research success.

The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.

We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.

What do you think about this serious matter?


I do not agree.

Your postulate suggests that there is some equilibrium within our gestalt, a best state if you will. The equivalent of the Garden of Eden is what you are effectively saying.

I would dispute that this has ever existed within our knowledge of the universe. Everything is in constant flux, the feedback loops that you speak of change all the time, with and without humankind’s influence. For example, an animal’s immune system develops a defence against a particular parasite, the parasite changes to overcome this defence. The old loop that existed between animal and parasite has gone to be replaced with a new one. Eventually the animal or parasite may succumb giving the opportunity to another.

Technology is just another part of this. You see this in bacteria developing resistance to our drugs. This is nothing new, the game was played long before drugs were invented.

The loops and rules of the game are constantly changing, there is no equilibrium. It may well be that the whole planet (even universe) is a gestalt (see Lovelock’s Gaia theories) but that does not mean there is an equilibrium or best state it just means everything is linked.

As we change things, the gestalt changes. As animals change, the gestalt changes. As the Earth’s magnetic pole changes position, the gestalt changes. As the solar system moves in the galaxy, the gestalt changes.

We play the game, eventually the house wins. Nothing new there, ask the dinosaurs!

But we need new technology to fully measure the effects our technology is having… :confused: