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So Long and Thanks for All the Science

Jeff Campbell

Posted on October 21, 2018 07:43

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We seem to be in a fixed mindset that science is the key element in our evolution and progress. Maybe it is or maybe science is what is dooming us to certain extinction.

In looking at what science has contributed to the world over time, one might immediately jump to the conclusion that life is so much better because of science and we simply couldn’t live without it. We certainly couldn’t live the way we currently do without it, but I think we would still live.

In college, I had an Anthropology professor whose doctoral thesis argued that if you measured the quality of life in leisure time, we actually have been on a steady decline in the amount of leisure time as scientific achievement has increased. In junior high, we watched a film in social studies that promised us that when computers became commonplace, we would only have to work 4-hour days as science would help get our jobs done much quicker.

One constant in science is that what we think we know at any given point is endlessly changing. It’s therefore disingenuous for any scientist to speak in definitive terms. Even Stephen Hawking’s beliefs were ever changing, telling us first that we have 1,000 years left, then only 100 years left, but also that sometime in the future time travel may be possible. Not sure how that will work if we are all dead within 100 years, but as I said, what we think we know is always changing.

Another constant is that science is always coming up with ever more effective ways for us to kill each other and destroy our planet earth. Many will say that it’s not the scientists that are misusing their wonderful discoveries and inventions, but they are supposedly smart people so must know that whatever they come up with is going to eventually make the world worse off.

In a new book coming out posthumously, Stephen Hawking concludes that there is no God, which is fine to have as an opinion since it has never been proven one way or the other; and of course, his death makes it hard for him to correct himself if by chance he has now discovered how wrong he was. He also shares concerns with our coming ability to manipulate DNA. He believes we soon may be able to change intelligence and traits such as aggression, potentially leading to a race of “superhumans.” That sounds eerily familiar from our not too distant past.

Human-made global warming is also of paramount concern to scientists. It’s ironic then that it is due to science that we are coming up with extremely effective ways to pollute the earth. The advances in the medical field make a lot more of us live, and live for longer periods of time so that we can increase the carbon footprint. That reminds me of one last warning from Stephen Hawking regarding his concerns about humans being overtaken by artificial intelligence. I share this concern as well since the first thing this AI will probably realize is that the best way to preserve the earth is to get rid of humans.

Jeff Campbell

Posted on October 21, 2018 07:43

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