After reading the lecture “Is technological progress a thing of the past?” by Joel Mokyr, I felt that Mokyr is able to see two sides of the issue of technology. He discussed how technology has really served to transform the world and helped it progress. For instance, he mentions that new developments such as DNA sequencing machines and cell analysis through flow cytometry have changed the face of biology and medicine.
The internet and business world have also been helped by new technology, such as high-powered computers that have expanded the world of research in several domains. In addition to this, technological advances in astronomy, nanochemistry, and genetic engineering have also made things easier in each of these fields, offering an array of tools and knowledge that can serve the world well.
However, Mokyr has also recognized that new technology can throw off the world’s equilibrium and create new problems that did not exist before the new technology. For instance, while agriculture and the development of new fertilizers have served to avoid Malthusian disasters, the sharp increase in nitrate after utilizing Fritz Haber’s nitrogen-fixing process created serious environmental issues, pertaining to aquifer pollution and algae. While the new solution solved one problem, it also created another.
Relying on fossil fuels and non-renewable source s of energy, such as coal, oil, and natural gas has wreaked havoc on the environment, the world now forced in fracking and finding new ways to get alternative energy. The world also suffers from global warming, the weather patterns changing for the worse, part of this created by neglecting our environment.
As you can see, Mokyr see the positive and negative aspects of new technology, his article and lecture alerting readers to both sides of the issue.