This page contains the opening portion of Chapter 3 from
Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist invitation
3. Beyond technology
The project to advance into the era of sustainable superabundance depends critically on technology. However, it needs more than technology. Technology is not enough. That’s for two reasons.
First, any given piece of technology is capable of misuse as well as use. Fire can burn down as well as provide heat. Metalwork can create swords as well as ploughshares. Chemistry can create explosive weapons as well as agricultural fertilisers. Biotech can create deadly new pathogens as well as nutritious new superfoods. Surveillance technology can be used to monitor and harass political opponents as well as to check for infrastructure weaknesses. Social media technology can distort and mislead as well as inform and educate. The more powerful the technology, the greater the potential for misuse – whether intentional or unintentional.
Second, before a piece of technology can live up to its positive potential, it needs to be developed and deployed. These steps can take a long, long time. These steps can be delayed – perhaps indefinitely – on account of all kinds of obstacles: intellectual obstacles, financial obstacles, institutional obstacles, philosophical obstacles, social obstacles, and political obstacles.
In short, just because it would rationally be the right thing for society to do, to support the development and deployment of a given piece of transformational technology, it’s by no means inevitable that this implementation will happen.
What more is needed, beyond technology? If an earnest appeal to enlightened rationality is insufficient, what other measures can be taken?
This Invitation provides a two-stage answer, spread out over the following two chapters. The present chapter envisions the positive enabling roles that need to be played by politics, by free market forces, and by targeted investment – not in their present forms, but in significantly improved forms. The next chapter digs deeper. It envisions the positive enabling roles that need to be played by a change in the public mood, and more radically, by a change in human nature.