ISBN : 9780198790532
Technological progress comes with a Dark Side where good ideas and intentions produce undesirable results. The many and various unexpected outcomes of technology span humorous to bizarre, and even result in situations which threaten our survival. Development can be positive for some, but negative and isolating for others (e.g. older or poorer people). Progress is often transient, as faster electronics and computers dramatically shorten retention time of data and knowledge (e.g. documents, data, and photos will be unreadable within a generation). This is also destroying past languages and cultures in a trend to globalisation. Advances cut across all areas of science and life, and the scope is vast from biology, medicine, agriculture, transport, electronics, computers, long range communications, to a global economy. Our reliance on technology is now matched by vulnerability to natural events (e.g. intense sunspot activity) which could annihilate advanced societies by destroying satellites or power grid distribution. Similarly, progress of electronics and communication produced a boom industry in cyber crime, and cyber terrorism. Medical technology may maintain our health, but we ignore possible drug related mutagenic changes, and we continue with errors in creating a global food economy by devastating the environment and causing extinction of species, just to support an excessive human population. This diverse coverage of the book is consciously presented at a level designed for an intelligent, but non-scientific readership. It includes suggestions for positive future progress with planning, investment, and political commitment, as well as contemplating how failure to respond endangers human survival.
1 Have we the knowledge, willpower and determination to survive?
2 Technology and survival - are they compatible?
3 Natural Disasters and Civilization
4 Good technologies with bad side effects
5 From trains to transistors
6 Food, survival and resources
7 The Silent Spring revisited
8 Medicine - Expectations and Reality
9 Knowledge loss from changing language
10 Decay of materials and information loss from technology
11 Technology, the new frontier for crime and terror
12 Technology driven social isolation
13 Consumerism and Obsolescence
14 Rejection of knowledge and information
15 Hindsight, foresight, radical suggestions, and a grain of Hope