Friday, March 12, 2010

What have we done?

I was watching "It came beneath the sea" tonight. Its an admittedly cheesy movie minted in 1955, with stop gap motion animated octopus nonsense. While watching it I was struck by the lack of basic progress in technology our society has made in nearly sixty years. If you remove the emphasis on computers in modern films, as well as make some societal adjustments in gender relations and culture, the film may have been created today. In comparison to the same period, the technological and even sociological differences between 1900 and and 1955 seem light years away from each other.

In short, where are the flying cars I was promised?

What progress have we made since then? Nearly all of the discoveries and improvements we have made since then have been merely implementations of basic concepts discovered long ago. Even our generation's greatest technical realization, the digital computer, was conceived of (and to some degree implemented) in 1822. Will the the next wave of biotech and nano systems ever push human affairs forward to the same degree?

We may naively celebrate our contemporary advances, but to what real benefit in human affairs have we contributed? One may point to incremental advances in lifespan and quality of life, but can they really compare with the radical changes of the 1950s? In the majority, our 'advances' have been merely the refinement of concepts realized in the 50s.

Calvary->Tanks->No Change
Nothing->Antibiotics->No change
Wright->Jet Planes->No change
Nothing->Rockets->No Change


I see a profound lack of understanding and ignorance of basic concepts in contemporary society. We place higher value on feelings and fulfillment than on the realization of the 'ground truth' of a situation. Technology has become a crutch rather than a tool to realize our ascendancy. Perhaps we are merely suffering from a case of 'philosophical indigestion' that will pass like the stomach flu I had last week. But at the end of the day 'A=A', and no amount of liberal sympathy can change that.


Post a Comment

<< Home