Technology will Determine the Future of the Human Race (06 Apr 2005)
The most straightforward explanation for the lack of appreciation is that modern technologies are too complex to be understood by anyone but the experts. But this is only true if the details are to be understood. It is up to the engineers and scientists who create these technologies to explain what they have done in language that can be understood by non-experts. We are very much to blame. Mind you matters were no better in days gone by when those responsible for the developments were purposefully obscure about their discoveries. The boundary between science and what for the sake of simplicity we call 'magic' was blurred. Even when the Royal Society, Great Britain's leading scientific academy, was founded in 1662 its objectives included matters we would now class as 'alchemy' rather than science. Knowledge was power and potentates were anxious to restrain its diffusion. Galileo was condemned and confined to house arrest for the latter part of his life for seeking to promulgate theories we now know to have been broadly correct. Worse perhaps than that, he wrote in the vernacular language (Italian) which could be understood by ordinary people, rather than the Latin of the scholars. And even the humdrum mining at Grimes Graves seems to have been associated with mystical rituals and ceremonies. The de-mystification of science is another change of the last few centuries, but it is evidently one which remains incomplete.
Article URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2005/lecture1.shtml
(Reith Lectures 2005)
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