Technology is a branch of science that has been extremely beneficial to humanity; still it has been considered harmful to society. With all the science and technological advancements, many of our lives have been made quite simpler. Furthermore, many of us cannot go one day without a cell phone or the Internet and not feel frustration and anxiety when these are not available. Science and technology give humanity a peace of mind; yet they have also caused negative effects to society. In J. Michael Bishop's article, "Enemies of Promise" and "Cuddling to Cyborg Babies", by Sherry Turkle one learns that science has been extremely influential to civilization, but at the same time, it has not been considered the "friend" that many have expected.
Science has been responsible for the cures to many illnesses. It has helped our world by guiding researchers and scientists to the discoveries of treatments to distinct life-threatening diseases. Medical advancements have allowed countless people to live a healthier and longer life, and therefore, they have been able to enjoy life to the maximum extent. If science has given humanity the knowledge to perform and discover the necessary to live a better life in this world, then why are there so many people that oppose its achievements and findings? Should science be a cause of distrust to people? Is it fair to view science negatively and all that it has developed? The following article explains why science has been important to humanity and the reason for people's mistrust.
"Enemies of Promise" by J. Michael Bishop, deals with the argument that science has indeed given humanity many exceptional benefits in many areas. Nevertheless, the lack of understanding this field of study has caused numerous people to feel fear and distrust. Bishop explains that our world has triumphed in the area of science. He tells us that science has made many accomplishments and it is because of these accomplishments that our well-being has immensely improved. However, Bishop also makes it clear that science is not always looked at with a good eye he says, "[y]et despite these proud achievements, science today is increasingly mistrusted and under attack" (208). It is true that science has excelled in several areas, like technology and medicine for example, and that it has provided humanity with countless attainments, but science has also harmed the environment and this could be one reason why people attack it.
Although science has influenced our lives in ways never imagined before, it has also negatively affected our world. For one, science has developed instruments of war and these have been used for the destruction of humanity, as in Hiroshima with the atomic bomb. Science has also endangered human existence in that it has provoked global warming with the development of transportation and its release of smog to the atmosphere. These are only some negative effects of science and J. Michael Bishop includes in his article comments from critics who do not favor science.
In his piece of writing, Bishop incorporates explanations from people that oppose science. He depicts what these "antagonists" (as Bishop calls them) have to say and feel about science. Bishop feels that those who are disappointed by science are overstating their feelings and emotions. He continues to say that those who feel disillusioned by this discipline want a quick remedy to many problems, even to those that have been difficult to solve, and if no solutions have been found, then science is a failure. However, Bishop stresses that "...only the na´ve would expect a quick fix for [those] momentous problems" (282). Many of us feel that science has answered many questions to our mysterious world, while others complain that it has demoralized our religious and cultural beliefs. However, one should stop criticizing what one does not understand.
Science is a complicated field of study. It involves a lot of dedication and desire to understand its proposals. Not everyone is willing to learn about this subject. For many reasons, countless people try to evade science. Could it be because of its convoluted theories, or are people truly not interested? Bishop believes that science is attacked because it is not understood he claims, "[r]esistance to science is born of fear. Fear, in turn, is bred by ignorance" (284). When one lacks knowledge of certain subjects and disciplines, then it is comprehensible to feel fear. Many of us fear science because of its complexity, and in order to change that, one should become educated in that field. Nevertheless, even if one becomes knowledgeable in the area of science, one must realize that it has also adversely affected humanity.
A branch of science that has evolved and become part of our existence is technology. Technology has helped humanity, but it has also caused many of us to become depended on its advancements. For one, typing an essay on a computer has never been so easy. I cannot image to have to retype an essay every time a mistake was made. This was a problem that many students faced when computers were not around. Another amazing advancement is the ability to download from a computer 100 songs or more, into a tiny device, known as an ipod, this was only a dream ten years ago! What can one say about cell phones and its capacity to allow us to communicate with others through text messages? Now, every one carries a cell phone and it has become part of our daily life.
Technology has allowed us to communicate easily with our long distance friends through mobiles and e-mails. One hundred years ago, telegraphs were considered a luxury and one of the few ways that the world communicated. Now, mobiles and e-mails have allowed us to be in touch with family and friends in a matter of seconds. Another technological benefit is the development of the Internet. With Internet, one has access to abundant information. It permits us to search just about any topic and one can enjoy from Online Banking, media reports to entertainment. Many services can be found on the web and taking advantage of these saves us time and effort. The list of technological advancements can go on and on, but as I mentioned before, technology also has its drawbacks to humanity.
Society has become completely depended on technology. Many of us rely on our computers, cells phones and Internet on a daily basis and when these are not available to us; it feels like a part of us is missing. However, the area where I feel technology is causing great harm is to our children and this is evident in the article "Cuddling with Cyborg Babies" by Sherry Turkle. In her piece of writing, Turkle claims that numerous children are personifying virtual toys by believing that they have feelings and thoughts. She depicts that children are capable of describing what it means to be "sort of alive" and her concern is the cognitive and emotional affect that this has on children.
Turtle presents how various children react to computer games. She writes that Merlin, a computer game that challenges children to the game of tic-tac-toe, has pushed many kids to react strongly to this game. When kids could not win Merlin, they became frustrated and said something like this: "Cheater. I hope your brains break" (360). What does a reaction like this one tells us? It is obvious that this child thinks that Merlin is real. To think that this game has a brain and that it cheats is a sign of vulnerability. A lot of children are being affected by games such as Merlin because they are not able to distinguish between real and fantasy.
Many children believe robots to be "sort of alive", too. Turtle mentions how kids believe that robots are cute and that they have personalities just like humans do. Various Kids have the urge to nurture their "virtual pets", such as Tamagotchis and Furbies, because they believe that this will allow them to build a relationship with them. Through her observations, Turtle found that "...when children play with these objects they want to know their 'state', not to get something 'right', but to make the Furbies happy" (362). Children want to make friends with virtual toys like Furbies. They are concerned about their "inner feelings", not if they could defeat them in a game. This demonstrates that children's cognitive thinking has been affected negatively. To think that virtual toys have feelings and thoughts might be normal to numerous kids, but as adults we have the responsibility to tell our children that these toys are only for entertainment and nothing else.
Advancements in technology, such as computers, cell phones, ipods and many other gadgets, have made many of our lives simpler and more fun. Science has given us a whole new world of knowledge with its infinite innovations in many areas. Still, science is not at its peak, nor it ever will. As time goes by, science will bring new ideas and solutions to many problems that our world faces. Even with all the developments that science and technology have given us; many individuals continue to resist it. To many people, science has not been the "friend" that it should be. Yes, science and technology have been extremely beneficial to humanity, yet it has also demonstrated its capacity to harm. As science and technology continue to expand its benefits to humanity, our job is to act with responsibility, become more educated in this field of study, and accept that we depend on science to continue to live a healthier and happier life.
Turkle, Sherry. "Cuddling Up to Cyborg Babies." The Presence of Others. Ed. Lunsford, Andrea A., and John J. Ruskiewicz. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2004. 359-365.