Technology is one of the most significant aspects of Western Civilization. Since the last century, it has been growing exponentially, and people have started to doubt whether this is necessarily good. Even though people had thought it to always be benevolent, World War II, especially the nuclear bombs, showed that scientific progress could also produce a lot of harm. Warning about this, Bill Joy wrote a famous article in Wired called “Why the Future doesn’t Need Us”. In it, he pondered the possibility of technology developing to such a degree that it grows a conscience of its own and decides to harm their makers. Joy (2000) wrote that “we have long been driven by the overarching desire to know that is the nature of science's quest, not stopping to notice that the progress to newer and more powerful technologies can take on a life of its own”. This brought ethical concerns to the development of different types of technology, such as nanotechnology, which he wished to abolish. He believed that their elimination was the correct way to hinder them being a threat to humans.
Soundly, after its publications, there were many just criticisms of this work, like that of Ray Kurzweil. His main argument is that there is no need to stop researching in these specific areas. Even though it is true that self-replicating technology could potentially be hazardous to the human race, he correctly states that this is just a continuation and an advancement of science. “Nevertheless, I do reject Joy’s call for relinquishing broad areas of technology—for example, nanotechnology. Technology has always been a double-edged sword” (Kurzweil, 2000, p. 2). Another interesting argument he uses is that this would only make these objects more dangerous, as scientists would be led to research them clandestinely. Then, they would have even less regulations and one would not really know the quantity and type of objects that other nations have. While it is true that Joy poses some interesting points, Kurzweil makes some objections that are very well-founded.
Joy, B. (2000). Why the Future doesn’t Need Us. Retrieved from http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html
Kurzweil, R. (2000). Promise and Peril. Retrieved from http://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/materials/kurzweil.pdf