Development in Morality and Technology

There are various trends in human development. One is a steady march towards complexity of technology and knowledge. Another is towards increased morality and decreased violence. The latter is pretty universally considered to be a positive direction to grow, the former is somewhat more questionable. Certainly there have been technologies which have done great harm, and will continue to be, technology is a tool, and in the wrong hands it can be a particularly damaging one. Yet I would argue that it is technological innovation that allows for and drives moral advancement. Technology both gives us the freedom from brutal survival and it’s necessities, and gives us greater ability to learn, both about ourselves, and about other people. When one group of humans sees another as less than human, then despicable acts become easy. With the various communication technologies (from books to the internet) the blinders are being torn away, and increased understanding leads to increased empathy. This then aided by the opportunity for leisure afforded us by technology, time which can be spent devising moral systems, learning, traveling, and inventing. Each successive century for some time now has become less violent (1) and we are likely living in humanities most peaceful era. This is related to the rise of states, which is based upon advances in technology (communication, agriculture, construction). This in turn gave rise to basic social contracts, which have evolved into moral rules or systems which suggest behavior for interacting with all humans, and increasingly non-humans. To be sure not all technology is to be accepted blindly as good, and it is perhaps a race between morality and reason and technical innovation to see whether the human race will destroy itself with it’s own cunning or survive and prosper as ever more healthy and moral being. While each successive generation might on average be less violent and more moral than the previous, technology has empowered us all to the point that a few missteps could conceivably result in the kind of wholesale and widespread death and destruction that just a century ago could not have been dreamed of. Whether technological and moral advancement are accelerating or decelerating, humanity certainly seems to be coming to a crucial point . This is where all those who span the gap between technology and humanity come in, including architects. It is our role to ensure that technological development is conceived and applied with considering of humanity, and of morality.

(1)-http://reason.com/blog/2012/07/21/steven-pinker-on-the-decline-of-violence

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