Can lifeless technology improve human behavior?
In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, psychologist Steven Pinker argues that Western societies have already altered our baser natures for the better, partly through technology. But could a single technical advance create lasting moral improvements in weeks or months, rather than over decades or generations?
Despite steady progress in science and technology, there hangs a vast suspicion today over the very idea of technology advancing the human condition. Smartphones and cancer drugs, yes. Compassion, not so much. Even in fiction, powerful new technologies almost always portend dark and brutish futures.
Instead of examining the potential flaws in this perspective, or arguing that the proverbial glass is half-full rather than half-empty, Freemaker dares to ask: What sort of technology could plausibly change human behavior for the better? Not 100 years from now, but tomorrow.
If Maker tech blows though our assumptions about scarcity, what happens to the moral sensibilities we have based on those assumptions? Notice the technology comes first, with the rationalizing and explaining (morality, religion, philosophy) following along afterward.
Could Philip Machen’s Makers become a reality? Are the 3-D printers being tested today harbingers of true matter replicators? If so, no one would be more surprised than I. Yet if matter-energy transmutation is possible on a practical scale, I believe it will be done. Then we will really have to pay attention. Got freedom?