Devolving through Technology
Technology is cool, right? It’s cool to have the flashy new cell phone or the most updated IPod. It’s cool to access every inch of your life from every inch of the planet; no waiting in torturous suspense for Brittany to text you what Sidney wore to last night’s party. It’s all right in front of you! Technology is great! Right?
It is my strong belief that technology isn’t really all it’s wired up to be (bad attempt at a pun, sorry). We are becoming increasingly dependant on machines of some kind to aid every aspect of our life. It’s become more than a matter of sending information or transferring human bodies; we have actually reached a point where our technology thinks for us. Have you ever used a calculator? All you are doing is instructing a machine to analyze and reason through a problem that you are too lazy to solve yourself, or perhaps, unable to solve. Allowing an emotionless machine to replace human thought, or worse, surpass it, is simply admitting to the inferiority that humans have to their own mechanical creations.
The integration we see between humans and the technology they create is a tangible example of the main flaw in our species, the one factor that will cause our destruction. We were granted the ability to reason. We were also granted an intelligence superior to that of any other animal; we were given an intelligence that grows. According to scientist and author Ray Kurzweil, our smarts grow at such a high exponential rate that “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.” However, this “progress” will in fact lead to the destruction of human beings, at least in terms of a species. We will create artificial intelligence that not only thinks for us, when we tell them to, but robots that think on their own. With this level of technology, there are a few different options for our pitiful future, all of which will effectually end us as a species. Perhaps our bodies will devolve to a state of such physical uselessness that we are forced to combine with technology in order to survive. Perhaps our own creation, our dear technology will revolt and we will be faced with a highly powerful army of pitiless creatures who cannot feel pain and operate on deadly reason. The array of scenarios is huge. However, it is obvious that in the near future, the intelligence in our technology will surpass us, resulting in our unhealthy dependence on or submission to it. While generations in the distant future may still exist (but likely in the binds of robotic forms), they will cease to be humans as we know it, for they will lack the instincts of pity and compassion and such elements that are essential for our humanity.
This idea of losing our humanity and worsening ourselves ties in nearly perfectly with one of Rousseau’s main points. He states explicitly in the text that in taking “so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, [we move] in fact toward the decay of the species.” This same idea most definitely applies today. By using our rapidly growing intelligence to build more and more advanced technology, all for the purpose of self-perfection, of perfecting life through the use of our rapidly improving technology, we are creating a society in which our humanity is slowly decreasing. We are becoming slowly dependent on emotionless machines that rely solely on reason. If we allow ourselves to become too intertwined with the machines we create, we will allow these intelligent robotic forms to think for us completely. And remember, robots think without emotion; a decision is weighed only in terms of reason. Rousseau was adamant in his belief that a civilized man is a man developing in the wrong direction; he is a man drifting from his natural instincts, such as compassion or pity that make him truly human.
 Wootton, David. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2008. Print.