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Thread: Our success is killing us

  1. #1 Our success is killing us 
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    Our success is killing us

    The aims of technology are achieved and our chances for survival are fatally diminished. The fault is not in our technology but in us. The fault lies within human society.

    McLuhan made us aware of the fact that technology is an extension of our self. I would say that we and also our ecosystem are both gestalts, a whole, wherein there are complex feedback loops that permit self healing and various means that protect us from our self.

    The dictionary defines gestalt as meaning a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts. When we interfere with the gestalt, i.e. our ecosystem or our self, we are changing some one or some few of the feedback loops that help us maintain equilibrium. Such modifications, if not fully understood, can send the gestalt into a mode wherein equilibrium can no longer be maintained.

    In 1919 Ernest Rutherford announced to a shocked world “I have been engaged in experiments which suggest that the atom can be artificially disintegrated. If it is true, it is far greater importance than a war.” Today’s stem-cell research could, in my opinion, be considered as more important than a war and also more important than Rutherford’s research success.

    The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.

    We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.

    What do you think about this serious matter?


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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I would rather hope that a government could be brave enough to go forward with stem cell research, in spite of all the naive negativity that is directed at it.

    P.S. I am curious, are you contemplating a book in the near future? All your recent threads seam to deal with different aspects of what might be your philosophical perspective, if I may be so bold.


    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  4. #3 Re: Our success is killing us 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.
    Agreed, we should focus more on practical aspects of these issues and go beyond metaphysical discourse ("should we play god?" etc).
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.
    Do you propose to put limits on the development of new technology, or the largescale use of it? I think research and technoligical development should never be limited in any way, if we can't estimate where it leads we also can't estimate what potential benefits we'd deny ourselves. And research itself rarely has damaging effects.

    But yes, before introducing new technologies on a large scale we should consider the consequences.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I would rather hope that a government could be brave enough to go forward with stem cell research, in spite of all the naive negativity that is directed at it.

    P.S. I am curious, are you contemplating a book in the near future? All your recent threads seam to deal with different aspects of what might be your philosophical perspective, if I may be so bold.
    No I am a retired engineer and am too old to start writing books.
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  6. #5 Re: Our success is killing us 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.
    Agreed, we should focus more on practical aspects of these issues and go beyond metaphysical discourse ("should we play god?" etc).
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.
    Do you propose to put limits on the development of new technology, or the largescale use of it? I think research and technoligical development should never be limited in any way, if we can't estimate where it leads we also can't estimate what potential benefits we'd deny ourselves. And research itself rarely has damaging effects.

    But yes, before introducing new technologies on a large scale we should consider the consequences.
    Knowledge once created can never be put back in the can.
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  7. #6 Re: Our success is killing us 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.
    This is a science forum. Go ahead and start focusing.
    [b]We are unwilling or unable to focus
    Speak for yourself.
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  8. #7 Re: Our success is killing us 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.
    I don't quite understand. Are you saying that, for example, stem cell research in itself will yield dangerous results? Or that the knowledge gained from stem cell research could be used towards dangerous ends? Are you suggesting that atomic research should have been halted, because its discoveries lead to the creation and use of an atomic bomb?

    Knowledge itself and how knowledge is used are two separate things. They are entwined, of course, but still different. Limiting the expansion of knowledge simply because of the possibility that it could be used for ill - I don't agree with that. Like pendragon said, the future outcome of research and technological advancement is often unknown, and you'll be preventing good things from happening just as much as you'll be preventing bad things from happening. And on a more practical note, how on earth do you propose to completely stop scientific advancement anyway? There will always be people somewhere who will continue to research and learn, which will only be of detriment towards those who have stopped.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  9. #8  
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    Modern research requires much money and equipment that only large enterprises can provide. This type of research will stop if the public will insists. Citizens of a democratic government cannot slip their responsibility by saying there is nothing I can do about it.
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  10. #9  
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    Coberst, would you like to respond to the questions that paralith has raised. I also would like to know your response to them.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Modern research requires much money and equipment that only large enterprises can provide. This type of research will stop if the public will insists. Citizens of a democratic government cannot slip their responsibility by saying there is nothing I can do about it.
    True. But will the public insist that we stop researching for the cures to the diseases that ail them? Not only will there always be people to do some research, there will always be members of the public who want it done and will support it, if only the mothers of children of terrible diseases who just want their children to have a hope of a chance of a happy future.

    And as Ophiolite said, you still didn't answer some of my questions as to what you really mean by your OP.

    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Are you saying that, for example, stem cell research in itself will yield dangerous results? Or that the knowledge gained from stem cell research could be used towards dangerous ends? Are you suggesting that atomic research should have been halted, because its discoveries lead to the creation and use of an atomic bomb?
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  12. #11 Re: Our success is killing us 
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology.
    I don't quite understand. Are you saying that, for example, stem cell research in itself will yield dangerous results? Or that the knowledge gained from stem cell research could be used towards dangerous ends? Are you suggesting that atomic research should have been halted, because its discoveries lead to the creation and use of an atomic bomb?

    Knowledge itself and how knowledge is used are two separate things. They are entwined, of course, but still different. Limiting the expansion of knowledge simply because of the possibility that it could be used for ill - I don't agree with that. Like pendragon said, the future outcome of research and technological advancement is often unknown, and you'll be preventing good things from happening just as much as you'll be preventing bad things from happening. And on a more practical note, how on earth do you propose to completely stop scientific advancement anyway? There will always be people somewhere who will continue to research and learn, which will only be of detriment towards those who have stopped.
    All technology can prove to be dangerous to our survival. Certainly an ability to mess with the fundamental elements of human DNA and of human organs can have an impact of great dimension.

    I think that it would be worth while for everyone to read “Understanding Media” by McLuhan. I think that McLuhan has great insight into the effects of technology on humans.

    Knowledge once acquired cannot be easily caged. In fact it probably cannot be caged at all. Bomb knowledge is a good example.

    Modern research requires much money and equipment that only large enterprises can provide. This type of research will stop if the public will insists. Citizens of a democratic government cannot slip their responsibility by saying there is nothing I can do about it.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    ok. I'm taking it that yes, you are talking about possible ill use of knowledge. And since you're into repeating the same statements over again, I too repeat that I don't think that is a good enough reason to stop the garnering of knowledge all together. We could be doing ourselves just as much harm as good by doing so. There are a great many very good things that come out of research and technology.

    As for your "responsible citizen" line - not all governments in this world are democratic. Not all democratic citizens in the world will agree with you. Not all democratic citizens in the world will want research to stop. Like me, many of them will not agree that just because someone might possibly use a technological advance for ill, that it's not worth stopping all advancement. There will always be somebody somewhere advancing knowledge, leaving those of us stupid enough to stop doing so in the dust.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  14. #13  
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    If your success is killing you, you are in desparate need of a revised definition for "success".

    Being very good at something has no value by itself. The question is: What do you do with your skills?
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  15. #14  
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    Coberst, your argument here is predicated on the notion that because new technology carries with it risks, research into that new technology should be curtailed for some undefined time to permit evaluation of possible impacts of the the technology. Do you also believe that soup is best eaten with a fork?

    I don't agree with you. Paralith doesn't agree wtih you. No one appears, so far to agree with you. Don't you think you ought to try to prove your case rather than just restating your challenged assumption?
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Coberst, your argument here is predicated on the notion that because new technology carries with it risks, research into that new technology should be curtailed for some undefined time to permit evaluation of possible impacts of the the technology. Do you also believe that soup is best eaten with a fork?

    I don't agree with you. Paralith doesn't agree wtih you. No one appears, so far to agree with you. Don't you think you ought to try to prove your case rather than just restating your challenged assumption?
    I would be happy to prove the truth of my statement if such were possible but I cannot prove it. It is based upon observation and judgment.
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  17. #16  
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    well, if you are serious about motivating people to change their minds, then go out there and look for some evidence. being such a fan of self learning, i'm sure you wouldn't be above some nitty gritty research. document your observations with real world examples.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  18. #17  
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    Coberst needs to break out of his confined thinking of equating 'human society' with the experience of the United States and a smattering of other western thinking.
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