The introduction of technology was made to make tasks easier, however, the uses of it have grown enormously over the years. Writers like Sherry Turkle and Lisa Belkin have discussed the aftermath of the use of technology in terms of ethics. Lisa Belkin in her essay “The Made-to-Order Savior”, talks about how different types of medical technology have created controversies on the basis of ethics. Belkin describes an incident in which the technology was being used to conceive babies as donors for bone marrow transplants. This raised many ethical questions and the idea of eugenics playing a role in the future. In the same way, Sherry Turkle in her book Alone Together raises the idea of robots becoming an essential part of a human’s life. Turkle discusses the way in which humans have created these perfect avatars of ourselves in the form of robots and allowing these robots to play a more humanistic role in society than it was intended for. These technologies have led humans to believe that we have sole control, and created a control freak out of humans. Control is something that humans aspire to have and over the years, technology has become the medium through which we find this idea of control. However, having control isn’t always the best way to go, it can sometimes violate the ethics that have been set by society. This comes down to the theme of finding a balance between control and bioethics. I certainly believe that as a human’s nature of being ambitious cannot be controlled, it is extremely difficult to find the balance. Therefore, I can agree with the fact that we may not be able to find a balance between bioethics and the idea of control in technology.
These new technologies have allowed us to believe that many things are under control and we may possess the power to change a certain situation. “Human nature” and “human authenticity” is heavily discussed in both pieces of work. So what is this so-called “human nature”? Human nature is a little mix of characteristics that make a human. Other times it is regarded as humanity. The basic fundamental of human nature is to provide help in any shape or form possible. In the words of Belkin, “It is human nature to do everything to save a life…”(Belkin 2). We tend to desire what we cannot have in our lives. We always try to expect more from others but in doing so we also fail to be there for others This simple desire to help sometimes makes us oblivious to the fact of how it might violate others and the effects of it on society. Belkin discusses the idea of breeding healthy babies with the purpose of helping children diagnosed with deadly illnesses. The motive of helping others is great, but the method used may raise some questions on how ethical this may be. This can be tied to the idea of eugenics and control. We are trying to produce perfect babies so that they may be used to control the illness. However, we should also discuss “human authenticity”. Human authenticity is the ability to accept that we may feel pain, fear, or loneliness, and to come with terms with the realities of being human. But the introduction of robots to help us cope with these feelings isn’t making us accept it. We see technology as a means to provide us comfort rather than trying to communicate with others, we turn to robots or other things to provide us with the same type of relief. Turkle says that “Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities”(Turkle 263). This simply shows how we turn to technology in an effort to try to control something which may not require any. Our constant need to attain perfection goes out of control and may even make us a bit obsessive. It can also be said that both human nature and authenticity are affected in terms of technology.
Our morals are overpowered by our curiosity about advancing technology. There should be control and limits on technology. Both readings can be observed with a more ethical lens. In terms of ethics, it can be observed that technology has a very slippery slope. As said by Belkin, “Ethicists think in terms of a slippery slope. But it is the potential for abuse in some circumstances reason not to pursue research that can be lifesaving under the right circumstances?”(Belkin 6). One can’t be too sure about anything in terms of ethics. There is some resistance from ethicists about the morality of using these medical treatments.“There was talk in the news media of ”Frankenstein medicine” and threats by Congress to ban embryo research, which had made this technique possible”(Belkin 1). For the government, breeding a newborn just to be used as treatment is not ethical. If you look at this from the position of the parents, they will just about do anything to save the life of their child. So to some degree, we cannot really define what is ethical or not. From Turkle’s point of view, we have let technology take control of our life and have guessed that robots can make up for human comfort. It can be seen as almost unethical to let robots replace humans which require actual humans. We continue to expect more from technology and less from others. However, one cannot be too sure that involving robots at a personal level can yield positive results. It can also violate the intimacy between 2 humans. There like no way to stop a human from using technology because of how involved it has become in our lives and overlook the negativities of it.
In conclusion, I would like to state that as more technological advances humanity makes, the more controlling we will become. Modern technology is based on the need to fix or tinker with anything wrong or unwanted in our life. Our ambition to attain more and more control will ultimately cause some catastrophes, even tho we may be doing it for the right reasons but in the wrong manner. And finding the perfect balance between it will be nearly impossible because if we look at it from different perspectives, we may actually understand the given circumstances and act accordingly. Moreover, there’s no way we can keep the ambitions of other humans under control. People delay the discussion on finding the perfect equilibrium between control and ethics. They leave it to the people of the future to figure out on their own which may have several repercussions. With our constant need to tinker and fix our lives using technology, there can be no balance between the exploration of technological breakthroughs and ethical restraint. Authors Sherry Turkle and Lisa Belkin argue the negative impact technology has on human society. Belkin assumes the bio-ethical approach of the possible abuse of technology to create “desirable” traits in offspring. However, as long as human curiosity continues to peak over morality, technological advancement and restraint can never be balanced.
- Belkin, Lisa. “The Made-to-Order Savior.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 July 2001, https://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/01/magazine/the-made-to-order-savior.html.
- Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.