Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Media/Medical and Science Ethics

Words 964 (3 pages)

The rapid advancement in technology made humans so fearsome about the dangers it brings them—most especially of the danger that will cause their extinction. It is not mere computer or cellular phone that advances. Today, genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) make that constant fear to knock on the feet of human race more frequent than ever.

Dr. Ralph Merkle, in his essay entitled Nanotechnology: It’s a Small, Small, Small, Small World (2000), pleasantly drew a future that is happily gains from the various benefits of nanotechnology in almost all areas from which life greatly depends. He said that nanotechnology is being pushed through towards an objective. That is to “make almost every manufactured product faster, lighter, stronger, smarter, safer, and cleaner.” He even enumerated benefits that nanotechnology may provide humanity especially on transportation, atom computers, military applications, solar energy, and medical uses.

Dr. Merkle has laid down very good arguments. He will surely make good impressions to whoever reads his essay. Dr. Merkle, who became scientific in describing when and in what manner humans will use nanotechnology, is indeed an ethical engineer and inventor. He became solely after to whatever nanotechnology can give humans to improve their everyday living. But all the benefits he said in his essay are also the weaknesses of his arguments and he was not able to draw more sentences to defend them. Though Dr. Merkle missed to include in his essay the dangers at par with the benefits of nanotechnology, Dr. Bill Joy provided them is his essay.

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Dr. Joy, in his essay The Future Doesn’t Need Us (2000), materialized and defined that fear. In lieu with the fast-paced technological advancement, he overshadowed a future dominated either by elites that uses GNR as a machinery to eliminate the masses or by egoistic individuals who work hard to aim vested interests or by the robots themselves with the powerful wit as much as that of a human being. Dr. Joy constructed such plausible reality in a logical structure, discussing how and what did technological advancements play in human community for the past centuries. Indeed, he showed how dangers go in parallel with the advantages and benefits of technology.

He, however, like any other individual, has all the reason to be fearsome about the technological advancements vis-à-vis GNR. History tells the world how did the arrangement of atoms forming a huge atomic bomb become so destructive—removes geographical and topographical places and killed thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is just one of the grave mass deaths and destructions that shook the whole world until now. History also tells us how technological advancements on medicines permitted the rise of new medicines aimed to secure individuals from the former medicines. It is, Dr. Joy points out, in the hands of the “wrong people” that such potential dangers are permitted to happen and may do “mishandling, abuse, and accidents” to recur over and over again.

Each of the two essays could be said as complement to the other; however, this accompaniment discloses another significant issue: Which of the two needs more importance, the duties or consequences of technology?

The abovementioned question now asks further question, who among the two makes a better point? Dr. Merkle is pushing through the duties technology provides humans—the duty of improving everyday life through manufactured products that were equipped with more efficiency, while Dr. Joy stresses on the consequences that make technology endanger life—the pros and the cons of technology and how it contributes to human’s extinction in the near future. For instance, the medical application of nanotechnology will lead to a better medical treatment of illness, Dr. Merkle said.

The assurance, however, that it will lead to a better, and perhaps safer, treatment is blurry. The creation of anti-antibiotics will testify to such inadequacy. Another example would be the military uses of nanotechnology to create better and more effective weapons. A country which has strong weapons to use during wars will, of course, able to claim the victory. Nanotechnology will be of great help in creating such weapons. However, if the opportunity to use nanotechnology-- to arrange atoms in a way creating weapons—were given and used for mass destructions by, to what Dr. Joy pertains, “bad people,” we will witness on this part the disadvantage.

Whether the phenomenon is an unseen/unpredicted occurrence or a willfully-done event, the raison d'être remains: to every duty of technology there is a parallel consequence. Too bad that when the consequence is bad and/or destructive, it cost us million lives and million-worth assets to vanished in split seconds, or it costs our daily living to be gradually ruined everyday.

Whether duty or consequence deserves more regard, some would still think if we are to coexist with technology harmoniously or end up victims of it, like Dr. Joy thought of. But still, like what Dr. Merkle tells us, “a lot would depend on when we start.”

As technology and knowledge rapidly changes, man has become wiser than ever. But the question to both Dr. Merkle and Dr. Joy also bothers even ordinary individuals, where are we headed as human race given that we are placed in now highly technological world?

Dr. Joy tells that many things greatly depends on humans—that is if we will still be driven by societal transformation, progress, and well-being. If not, “progress will be somewhat bittersweet.”

True enough, humans coexists in a one world. To clearly define the duties technology should and at the same time eliminating, or the least expense, minimizing, the dangers it may give us, molecular manufacturing (as part of the nanotechnology) “requires the coordinated efforts of many people in many years,” as what Dr. Merkle said.

At the end of the day, the challenge to us is more likely to be as particular as how to protect life; improving it is perhaps a higher task that awaits us.



Media/Medical and Science Ethics essay

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