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The two faces of technology

Technology has given us high expectations, an increased human world population, and a demand for a high standard of living. Success has been bought at the price of destroying species and much of the planet in order to produce food, mine ores, and minerals, and to provide water and power to this excess of humanity. My message is thus incredibly clear. Technologies have brought us immense progress and wealth, but simultaneously are sowing the seeds of our destruction. Without a change of intent and actions, collapse of civilization is not impossible. Unfortunately, it may well be in the relatively near future. The grain of hope and a positive view is that some people are now recognizing the dangers, and with immediate actions, we may have the ability to prevent a collapse of civilization and emerge with a better world order.

Despite the evidence that we need to make changes, the requisite actions are likely to be politically and industrially opposed, or slowed down, as they may imply a reduction in growth of markets, particularly for advanced nations. Additionally, those with power and influence are mostly middle-aged politicians and industrialists without a long-term personal involvement. Nevertheless, we need to act now, as the alternative is a collapse of global trade and knowledge, inevitability leading to wars, famine, and disease.

There are perhaps two scenarios that may evolve from our present excesses. The first is that natural events or wars will destroy those of us dependent on technology to survive. This means the end of the advanced nations. This is very bad news for those of us in such favoured positions, but a result that may be welcomed—or indeed, actively triggered—by those in underdeveloped countries.

The second scenario is worse: the dark side of technology may lead to total extinction of our human race by engaging in a global war. In that case, the use of atomic or chemical weapons, followed by global starvation, will combine to eradicate us. Should this happen, then the planet Earth will eventually regenerate, and new creatures will evolve. Perhaps a future sentient being on Earth will detect traces of our existence as a very short-lived species, but it may not realize we self-destructed as a result of our scientific and technological achievements.

Rather than end on a note of deep pessimism, I would like to think that we are an intelligent species that wishes to survive. Therefore, by aggressively pointing out the disaster scenarios we are self-generating, we are taking the first, very tiny step to admitting they exist. Having recognized our mistakes, there is at least hope that we may attempt to correct them. Motivating all of us—from public to politicians and industrialists—with enough urgency to make global changes will be hard, but it must be done. My hope is that you who have read this far will, by definition, have the intelligence, foresight, and drive to not just sit back, but to actively spread this message.

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