Monday, April 07, 2003

Technological Optimism

In Beyond Engineering: How Society Shapes Technology, Robert Pool quotes from David Dietz, Atomic Energy in the Coming Era, published in 1945:
Instead of filling the gasoline tank of your automobile two or three times a week, you will travel for a year on a pellet of atomic energy the size of a vitamin pill....The day is gone when nations will fight for oil....

No baseball game will be called off on account of rain in the Era of Atomic Energy.... No city will experience a winter traffic jam because of heavy snow. Summer resorts will be able to guarantee the weather and artificial suns will make it as easy to grow corn and potatoes indoors as on the farm.

Reading Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture has left me with ideas that keep echoing, such as the idea that "We began to see the whole Creation merely as raw material, to be transformed by machines into a manufactured Paradise." (p. 56) I wish I could better get students to think hard about whether they really believe that technology will allow us to transcend all limits.

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