RE: Modern Technology: Out of Control?

Weslake, Brad BG (
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 16:29:45 +1100

So you propose that the control is not in the hands of the technologists
themselves - this leaves any control primarily in the hands of those who
would regulate the technology being developed. At the current time, this
is the government. If the technologists themselves are not in control of
the implications of technological developments what hope do governments
have of responsibly creating policies?

Alternatively the question becomes: "Is the guiding force of the
government sufficient to responsibly ensure human survival in the face
of rapidly advancing technology? If not, what is the solution?"


> ----------
> From:
> Reply To:
> Sent: Tuesday, 20 January 1998 2:39
> To:
> Subject: Re: Modern Technology: Out of Control?
> Weslake, Brad BG wrote:
> >
> > Hi.
> >
> > Why do you think the image of modern technology being 'out
> of
> > control' has such a strong appeal? In what ways does technology
> appear
> > difficult to control? For some of the problems you identify, explore
> > their implications for government policy-makers. Provide examples
> for
> > your arguments.
> >
> IMO, the appeal is based on reality: technology is out of control,
> in the sense that no person or group can comprehend all of
> technology. Peter the Great (?) managed to teach himself the
> basics of the technology (European) of his time: that was
> probably the last point in history that such a thing was
> possible for one man. Today, a well-educated and capable
> technologist cannot stay abreast of more than a small part
> of one field. Even fairly dedicated techno-junkies such as
> many on this list have trouble tracking most relevant
> advances at a shallow level. No wonder the general public
> is overwhelmed.
> IMO, technology is actually considerably less under control
> than most alarmists realize. Many futurists believe the
> civilization of 50 years hence will be completely
> incomprehensible from today's perspective. Some
> more radical futurists think this is true for the civilization
> of 15 years hence, or ten years hence.
> Another way to put it is to ask "if technology is under control,
> what is the nature of the control? Is this control sufficient to
> prevent a runaway exponential growth leading to computer-based
> superintelligence?"