Technology changes us—and the world around us—in countless ways. It eases our labor, cures diseases, provides abundant food and clean water, enables communication and travel across the globe, and expands our knowledge of the natural world and the cosmos. The stuff of science fiction is now, in many cases, reality, and it can make our lives longer, healthier, and more productive than ever.
But technological advance is not without complication, and even ardent proponents of technology recognize that our present age of innovation is fraught with concern for unintended consequences.
Technology that eases our labor, for example, can detach us from a meaningful sense of work. What can cure disease also can encourage us to view the human body as something to be engineered, modified, and immortalized. Techniques that produce more food from less land can have ruinous, long-term effects on the environment. Likewise, even as technology makes possible instant communication with others around the world, it often creates distance between ourselves and people near to us; while it enables unprecedented mobility, it can undermine the stability necessary for families and communities to thrive. And as technology provides ever increasing knowledge, we quite reasonably wonder whether such knowledge is being used to bring about a wiser, more just world.