Is modern science and technology always a blessing?

Author: Ying
School: Raffles Institution
Year Written: 2020
Grade: A

In our fast paced society, modern technology is often placed on a pedestal, with the latest science and technology regarded as sure-fire ways to resolve many of our problems today. Modern technology has led to the exploration of many frontiers, such as genetic engineering, cloning, abortion and more. While some may swear to the notion that modern technology is always a blessing as it gives rise to many new possibilities, I beg to differ. Modern technology has brought about a multitude of problems, owing to its transient and controversial nature. Furthermore, exploitation of technology can also give rise to many repercussions.

The transient nature of modern technology renders it quickly outdated in our rapidly evolving world and thus quickly becomes irrelevant and useless in the modern day. Since the discovery of penicillin, antibiotics were hailed as the ‘miracle cure’ to panoply of bacterial infections, with people becoming heavily dependent on it to fight bacterial infections of all sorts. However, the quick evolution of bacteria, coupled with the decreasing pace of new antibiotic discovery, have given rise to a deadly problem – antibiotic resistance. As bacteria constantly evolve and mutate, they develop resistance to antibiotics, causing the drugs to have no effect on them. Furthermore, heavy reliance on antibiotics has resulted in humans being defenceless to these infections. This phenomenon has resulted in the deaths of many, including Mdm Siti Hajar, who was robbed of her eyesight and left with multiple organ failures following infection by resistant bacteria, on which antibiotics had no effect on. As such, the growing rate of evolution has quickly rendered many older developments in technology outdated and useless. This, coupled with strong reliance on modern technology has resulted in disastrous outcomes when such technology no longer works. Indeed, as George Bernard Shaw once aptly quipped, “Science does not solve a problem without creating ten more.” Science and modern technology have not only failed to be a blessing, but also led to newer and more serious problems.

Furthermore, modern technology has led to many ethical concerns that result in a division of opinions and controversy. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “It has become appallingly apparent that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Scientific development rarely occurs without leaving a trail of shattered morals and blatant dishonesty behind. The legalisation of abortion as late as six weeks into pregnancy have led to the division of those for ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’, with the ‘pro-life’ claiming that the procedure of injecting poison into a foetus’s skull is inhumane. Since the absence of a heartbeat is used to signal death, shouldn’t the presence of a heartbeat be used to signal life as well? The unborn foetus, though not fully developed should thus be seen as a life. Abortion is thus akin to murder. On the other hand, those for ‘pro-choice’ believe that the mother should be given the rights to decide whether to deliver the baby or not. This has led to a division of opinions, causing great controversy. Moreover, the recent discovery of the infinite possibilities of stem cell research have led to many countries jumping on the bandwagon and pumping in millions of dollars to explore this new frontier. However, this again sparked controversy, with people claiming that pluripotent embryonic stem cells, having the potential to create a life, should not be used at our disposal as life is seem to be sacred. As such, modern technology has resulted in much division, sometimes even resulting in polarisation of society and can sometimes be seen as a curse rather than a blessing.

Exploitation of modern technology by the ruthless has resulted in many disastrous and irreversible outcomes. Modern technology such as the genetic engineering of rice crops to increase crop yield of its offspring was once seen as a blessing as it solved the problem of famine in India. However such genetically engineered crops took on a more insidious nature as companies like Monsanto cunningly engineered the seeds to be infertile and priced them at inordinate sums, forcing farmers to have to purchase a new batch of seeds at the end of each season. These farmers clung on to the promise of tremendous profit, as they were made to believe by companies like Monsanto, yet continued to find themselves increasingly mired in debt. Many of them committed suicide out of desperation, leading to an increase in farmer suicides in India. The greed of humans have led to manipulations in the original pure intentions behind modern technology and brought about many disastrous outcomes. The discovery of nuclear power by Albert Einstein, initially meant for the betterment of society as a more sustainable way of generating electricity have also resulted in tragic outcomes during world war two in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing millions of innocent civilians. Upon witnessing the destruction unleashed upon the country, the pilots of the Enola Gay said, “My God, what have we done?” a sentiment that many will say characterises the use of technology today. Even today, countries like North Korea, which has failed to disarm, frequently launch test missiles, terrorising surrounding countries like Japan and South Korea. The good intentions behind such inventions were adulterated by wicked humans and have thus brought about suffering instead of the blessings it was originally meant to bring.

However, major progressions brought about by modern technology have resulted in some claims that modern technology always brings about blessings. In modern society, science has made quantum leaps and opened doors of possibilities that were previously absent. Modern technology has allowed for tremendous progress to be made in the day-to-day living of people and have definitely fulfilled its original purpose to be a blessing to others.

Though it is safe to say that modern technology has its fair share of successes, it is inaccurate to state that outcomes from modern technology is always a blessing. As scientists push boundaries like never before and start to explore foreign domains, there are bound to be experimental error that modern technology brings about. After all, the continuous development of modern technology is on the basis of the ‘scientific inquiry’ and experimental errors are inevitable in the exploration of technology. Thalidomide, which was a sleeping pill taken to alleviate morning sickness was said to be so mild that even pregnant woman could take it without side effects. However, this costly mistake resulted in the birth of thousands of newborns with deformed limbs. Such errors in the field of technology, though inevitable, have brought about terrible outcomes.

Although modern technology is lauded to be the most reliable and effective panacea to our global problems, it is vital that we reduce our dependency on such developments and learn to be wary of them. It is unlikely that modern technology will turn out to be a utopian fantasy, but let us not let it head in the direction of a Faustian nightmare.