Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Imagining the Future [Yuval Levin]

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/4/levin.htm.

To think about technology is to think about the future. It is, unavoidably, to speculate and to predict, to imagine how our lives might be affected by new tools, new methods, and new powers. Most arguments about technology are therefore really arguments about the future. They give voice to different sorts of expectations about progress and change, and to different sorts of intuitions about the character of human life. The particular technology being debated is often secondary to these larger much-disputed themes, and the public debate is shaped by different ways of imagining the future at least as much as by the specific technical potential of a new device or technique.
This has certainly been the case in the most prominent set of arguments about technology in America today—arguments about human biotechnology. For at least three decades, but especially since the late 1990s, the future of these biotechnologies has been a hot political issue in this country. Novel prospects for manipulating nascent human life, enhancing physical or mental powers, reshaping the life cycle, or otherwise exercising unprecedented control over our biological selves have increasingly been fodder for public argument. Advocates and critics of these emerging powers tend to agree about one thing: biotechnology will play a critical role in shaping the future of humanity. continue...

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