Technology Can’t Fix It – The New York Times


This article, In the technology bulletin. You can do register here to pick up on weekdays.

I’m having a crisis of trust in technology. Not because of the damage people and companies do to technology, but because of all the ways technology might not matter so much.

Consider some of the big issues Americans are facing in no particular order: the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, disagreements over the proper role of government, a showdown over systemic racism, inequality in wealth and health, increase in murders and other public safety threats, and trainer and social Security systems that have failed many people.

Technology did not cause these problems, and we should not believe too much that technology can solve them. I worry that when we disparage or praise what tech and tech companies do, it loses our focus on what really matters.

Technology may be part of the solution, but mostly we have to find the answers through collective human will and effective action.

It’s not Uber’s fault alone that the job is insecure and many Americans have trouble making a living. Jeff Bezos may be delusional because he wants to moving polluting industries into space, but Amazon is also not responsible for warming the world. Likewise, if Facebook interferes further with misleading online information, does not delete root causes Our children would not be completely safe from the suspicions of Americans about vaccines and if there were schools. face recognition cameras.

We can see how people are using technology for good, and we need to do more to reduce the negative aspects of technology in our world. But at the same time, I fear that we and I have overestimated the importance of technology.

I’ll take a look at my conflicting feelings about both the power and the impotence of technology.

In recent days there have been reflections on how the US government has behaved. misled the public about the destroyer Effects From the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 76 years ago.

Such official misdirection or denial about the war and abuses It still happens, but it’s more difficult, in part because of the prevalence of technology like phone cameras, Facebook, and Twitter that allow everyone to show the world their truth. Thinking about what has changed since WWII made me feel optimistic about how technology helps empower us with information and sound.

But I also worry about the things that technology can’t really change. My Colleague Somini Sengupta Wrote This week, it’s technologically possible for the countries most responsible for releasing planet-warming gases into the atmosphere to switch to clean energy faster and stop deforestation. But these choices are contentious, destructive, expensive, and hard for most of us to accept.

Confronting climate change and other deep-rooted issues is difficult, and it’s tempting to divert our attention in hopes that technology will save the day. Unrealistic optimism about driverless car technology has mobilized some policy makers. think twice about transit projects or other measures to reduce emissions. My colleagues have written about the concerns of following. technologies to absorb large amounts of carbon from the air It could allow industries to delay doing more to avoid harmful emissions in the first place.

ambitious technologies as long as we put them in perspective, they can be part of the answer to our collective challenges.

I am grateful for the advanced data collection that helps scientists better understand the effects of climate change. Technological advances, including Tesla’s electric cars, are making it more possible for politicians and the public to imagine changing transport and energy grids.

It is easy to misdiagnose the causes of our problems and hope for relatively painless solutions. But technology is not magic and there are no quick fixes.


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