I ran across this article on Sunday and it reminded me that I haven’t talked to you about the moral of Mesh. Yes, Virginia, there’s a moral. In fact, there’s a hidden cautionary scifi tale within Mesh.
Within the story, I talk about kids inventing a world-changing technology. By the end of the book, you’ll be scared by the implications of that technology. That’s my intent. Why should technology scare you? Let’s talk about that. First, let’s discuss the article itself and then we’ll talk about how Mesh connects.
Is Technology Making Things Better? That’s a good question. For geeks, we focus on what could be, not why it should be. We’re wired that way. Civilization follows behind, happy to reap the rewards of our curiosity. As a result, humanity has run a rabid, manic marathon of discover for two centuries now. Are we better off because of these new inventions and possibilities?
“We face a growing array of problems that involve technology directly or indirectly,” as Dr. John K. Davis of California State University, Fullerton states. “[T]he core problem is that we’re becoming more powerful but not more wise. The growing gap between our technological power and our wisdom is the ultimate cause of all these problems. We are clever enough to create problems we aren’t wise enough to avoid. ”
Dr. Davis is focusing on something I knew would be important to talk about when I started writing scifi four years ago: the Why of technology, and not just the What. I disdain scifi that’s little more than a sophisticated toy catalog. If you’re going to have laser swords and starships, I want to know why you have them. I want to know what this technology can do to push the human condition forward.
The problem is that there’s a bigger problem than the one Dr. Davis articulated. Is technology making our life better? It can, but it’s also making it easier for people to make life worse. The gray area between technological disruption and social order creates a huge opportunity for amoral, irrational behavior.
Bigger still is the idea that our society has self-selected to avoid these uncomfortable ideas. Simply put, our society has groomed itself through fifty or a hundred years’ relentless pursuit of peace, comfort, and safety. That comfort has come at the cost of our humanity.
Don’t believe me? I’ll give you a quick example. For all the cancel culture and ‘vote with your wallet’ rhetoric on social media, there are certain social outrages people are prepared to ignore. Look at how quickly society got past using slave labor to make iPhones. Look how quickly get past the outrages of pop stars if they’re famous enough.
I’m going to keep this short because Mesh won’t re-draft itself. I agree with the sentiment expressed: technology isn’t necessarily making our lives better. The reason why? Well, that’s something I want to get to in a second part.