In the book, “My Side of the Mountain,” Sam Gribley runs away from home and lives in a tree in the Catskill Mountain range. A vicious winter storm rips through his forest home, tearing down branches and trees. At first he thinks the forest has been destroyed and wonders how he can repair it. Then it dawns on him that the forest has dealt with the harsh forces of nature for centuries and managed to thrive. I believe the principle Sam learned applies to the growth of technology. It’s easy to think that the problems we face are unique to modern times, but our history says otherwise.
Though the technologies differ, the problems are the same. Professions or trades are obsoleted while new ones are created and those new professions will later be obsoleted by yet newer ones. This leaves us with the question of what to do as technology changes. Do we fight it, embrace it or pretend it doesn’t exist? If we feel something has been created that causes more harm than good, do we have a recourse? Do we have the power to stop it? I don’t have all the answers, but from my limited experience, it is far easier to guide something in a slightly different direction rather than trying to stop it altogether. If something gets out of hand, it’s probably not the technology at fault, but our use of it. Of course, any attempt to moderate or control the use of technology is met with cries of censorship and lack of privacy, but there needs to be a balance. Inventing a robot to vacuum your living room is a wonderful use of technology. Using the robot to vacuum up your neighbor’s gerbil may be questionable. B.F. Skinner hit the nail on the head when he wrote, â€œThe real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.â€