The Most Critical Issue of Our Time

by Mike Swetnam

As species evolve they get better.  At the top of the evolution chain are humans:  So evolved now that we can increasingly control, or at least effect, our environment.

I had and interesting discussion today about science and technology making us gods (little g).  Able to change and determine our evolution—the evolution of other species, the fate of our environment, etc.  Clearly this is happening to some degree already, and as time goes on and our science gets better we will get closer to this vision.  A time is coming when humans have the science and technology to be “god-like” in our ability to change the course of evolution, to control our environment, amd determine the fate of species. We will have the ultimate ability to change our own future.  It’s happening today, even if not directed or controlled.  The day will soon come when individuals can control and direct these changes.

Yet surely only a few in society should have the authority to wield this power…who might they be? Our elected leaders? The scientists?  Industry?

That could be the key question. Controlling god-like technology (nuclear, neuro, nano, bio-engineering) could be the key science and technology policy question of our time; or of all time.  Certainly we don’t want everyone, or even most people, to have access to such power.  Just as we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapon, we don’t want bad people or states to have access to bio-engineering, nanotech, or neurotechnology.

Consider that the most important policy question of our time may not be healthcare, the economy, or wars overseas but the need to control science and technology that is powerful enough to change everything, kill us all, destroy our world, or effect the course of history.

Controlling science and technology, mankind’s increasing ability to be god-like, is the most critical issue of our time.

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