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How we talk about technology and our future as gods…

December 11, 2010

Israel in Egypt by Martin Beek

A very thought-provoking, succinct piece from Andrew Maynard on the @IEET blog about on an upcoming talk he’s giving about the brittle balance we face in the years ahead as technology becomes more and more powerful. Maynard’s point that we have to make a conscious decision to avoid the temptation to see ourselves as small gods seems so true and more than a bit chilling.

And so I then ask myself: Maynard’s post is for certain an interesting piece by a thoughtful, tuned-in writer but is there some deeper reason I feel drawn to throw in my 2 cents?

It takes a moment or two but I then see that–yes indeed–the temptation of which Maynard speaks cannot be averted by only good intentions or the strength of our will. The constructive relationship with technological risk can only come to be if we begin now to develop systems and cultures based upon the consistent practice of generative dialogue.

Our larger, more nobler selves can only arise through an emergent process of authentic engagement. All voices need the opportunity to contribute to the broader discussion forming who we are to become. But that discussion will not happen just through our good intentions, it must be woven into the core of the systems and practices that underscore our values and institutions.

So let’s get talkin’ !

Amplify’d from
the central question here is whether we are up to handling the future. Are we sufficiently aware of our limitations that we are able to build a better future through partnerships and humility? Or are we merely “small gods” – people with a smidgen of power who mistakenly think they rule the world?
tech innovation is only one factor influencing the future. But it is a pretty important one – there aren’t many global issues that either haven’t been enabled or exacerbated by technology innovation
what if we are small gods – knowing just enough to be dangerous as we flex our technological muscles?
how do we ensure the technologies we embrace do more good than harm? As we go from here into an uncertain future, how do we avoid the temptation to act like small gods and learn to harness the power of technology for good?
How we navigate this uncertain future depends on one small, four letter word – “risk.”

How we deal with risk makes all the difference. Business as usual – and we run the danger of becoming small gods. Thinking – and acting – differently about risk, and we have the chance to build a better world.

As we move on from here into a technologically complex future, which will it be?


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