Sunday, January 18, 2009

Technology and free will

The people who create technology are changing the world in surprising ways. Never before have we achieved such an amazing control over the ability to create technical solutions to problems.

We can send spaceships that will survey Mars. Billions of people have unprecedented access to unimaginable quantities of other people, of all types of content and various devices. Everything becomes mobile and fast and countless of opportunities are opened for people, groups, organizations and nations.

On the other hand, the unnoticeable way in which technology gets a hold on our life re-creates us as human beings. The Internet lets executives run huge multi-national corporations, but it is still difficult to get rid of dozens of spam messages every day. It’s possible to contact people and devices in space, but billions of people have never conducted a single phone call. The best technological tools are used by the best minds, but also by Bin Laden.

Technology saves time and spends time, benefits and harms, saves lives and threatens lives. There are some things beyond our control here (like the use of technology by terrorists), but what is within our control is also very clear: each one of us determines, if, how much and how one technology or another is used. There is a space between the urge to use everything all the time and the actual use itself. Our freedom resides in this space, and so does our real benefit.