A lengthy commentary by Richard Louv on the lack of substantial discussion and debate of emerging technologies — including nanotech — appeared on SignOnSanDiego.com, the website of the San Diego (California) Union-Tribune ("Debate should advance with technological leaps", by Richard Louv, 24 February 2002). Louv quotes Daniel Yankelovich, a public opinion analyst: "Overconfidence in technology leads to distraction, lack of attention to the human element, not watching where you're going . . . In any enclosed environment in which people are isolated, you become vulnerable to delusionary thinking. You stop questioning." Louv writes, "Have we stopped questioning? Maybe. Or we've barely begun."
Read more for additional quotes from the article. Louv includes some other interesting quotes:
- John Eger, director of San Diego State University's International Center for Communications, who says "most questions that ought to be asked about technology aren't surfacing in the political world." Eger says during the most recent presidential election, he watched the debates waiting for a discussion of megacomputing, nanotechnology, robotics, designer mice implanted with human genes. Instead, with the exception of some muttering about Internet sales taxes, the candidates argued about the price of pharmaceuticals. "The last major technological shift, from the agricultural age to the industrial age took several hundred years to complete," Eger says. "This new shift, to an information age of exponential technological advances, is happening in 10 to 15 years. It's going to cause a major restructuring of government, a reweaving of the whole tapestry of what holds us together as a people, a redefinition of what means to be a person."
- Matthew S. Meselson, a geneticist and biochemist at Harvard University, says the emerging technologies of our time, particularly when they're combined, constitute a fundamental and profound break from the past. "All of the prior technologies could be used to kill people," he says, "but not to change the very nature of what a human being is. We're on the brink of living with human beings as we want to make them. To modify the way people think, to manipulate loyalty."
- "Ethical debates within the professions are concerned with specific technologies, but not the whole," says Lawrence M. Hinman, professor of philosophy and director of The Values Institute at the University of San Diego. "There just aren't very many people or organizations looking at the larger, tougher technological issues ñ or even the mechanisms for having that debate."
- "My personal view is that technology is a form of evolution," said Paul Jacobs, in an interview last year. Jacobs is executive vice president of San Diego's Qualcomm Corp., a leader in wireless technology. "I agree there are dangerous aspects to many technologies, but most people who do this kind of work are more introspective about the implications than they're given credit for. As in anything, balance is the key."