فناوری و اقتصاد محیط زیست: فن آوری پرومتن، پتانسیل پاندرین
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8737||2006||16 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 56, Issue 3, 15 March 2006, Pages 343–358
In considering social, economic and ecological impacts of new technologies it is essential to start from an understanding of human nature. This paper explores this issue drawing out some implications for ecological and neoclassical economics. The paper presents two key arguments. First, we argue that there is a growing tension between our evolved human nature and social structures and our emerging technological prowess. Modern technologies give us increasing power to manipulate the very axes of nature: space, time, energy, matter, and life. Technologies are now so powerful they give us abilities our ancestors would consider godlike. The question is posed: Are humans ready to wield the power of the gods? We have the knowledge, but do we have the wisdom? The myth of Prometheus and Pandora is considered as a metaphor for the interaction between technology, nature and universal aspects of human nature developed over eons of evolution. Second, we argue that even a ‘technologically optimistic’ scenario (employed by some economists) may not actually deliver Utopian outcomes. With technological advancement and diffusion there is a “technological trickle down effect” whereby potent technologies, once available only to governments and powerful elites, become available to greater numbers of groups and individuals. The more accessible a technology, the more likely its social and ecological impacts will be shaped by the full range and extremes of human nature. These issues have implications for the development and regulation of Promethean technologies such as nuclear energy, genetic engineering and nanotechnology; technologies with unprecedented power and reach through nature. Development and diffusion of such technologies may also have implications for the ethics of the social structure of society.
A significant theme in ecological economic literature is the debate over the role of technology and its impact on ecological and social sustainability. The importance of this debate within an ecological economic frame is demonstrated in the central place this issue received in Costanza's, (1989) seminal article in the first issue of the journal Ecological Economics. Many ecological economists have continued this theme ( Peet, 1992, Ayres, 1994, Khanna and Zilberman, 1997, Aldy et al., 1998, Davison, 2001, Huesemann, 2001 and White, 2002). The debate on the impacts of technology is not limited to ecological economic literature. Indeed, the concerns over the use and development of technology can be traced back to ancient cultural myths. A recurring theme in the myths of many cultures warns of the god's displeasure and the catastrophes that await at the hubris of humankind attempting to attain the glory, knowledge and power of the gods. For example, for eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Yahweh cast Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and cursed all their descendants with original sin. The myth of Prometheus and Pandora is an allegorical warning in a similar vein. The Titan, Prometheus, favoured humans over the Olympian gods. Prometheus was tutored by Athene in the technical arts of architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine and metallurgy. He pitied humans, ignorant of arts and science, and subject to the whims of merciless nature. To ease their lot, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. Control of fire symbolises power over nature, the beginning of technology, science and art. With control of fire, humanity began its journey to the heavens, taking its first steps towards attaining godlike power over nature. Zeus, infuriated by this theft, was incensed by humanity's increasing power over nature. In revenge, Zeus meted out punishments to both Prometheus and humanity. Prometheus was bound by indestructible chains to Mount Caucasus. Each day a monstrous eagle fed upon his liver. Each night his immortal liver grew back, to be devoured again the next day. Unrepentant, he endured his torment for thirty thousand years before Zeus finally allowed Hercules to slay the eagle and free him. Eventually forgiven, Prometheus, the benefactor of humanity, took his place on Olympus amongst the immortal gods. As for humans, Zeus ensured that the gift of fire was accompanied by calamity. From clay he fashioned the first woman, Pandora, a female of great beauty, though in her heart lay perfidy and from her mouth sprung deceit. Zeus made Pandora the keeper of a great jar within which was imprisoned Evil, Sickness, Old Age, Insanity, Vice, Passion and all the other Spites that plague humanity. Then he gave Pandora to Prometheus' brother, Epimetheus. Despite being warned by Prometheus not to accept gifts from Zeus, Epimetheus married Pandora. Once amongst the human race, she opened her jar releasing the Spites (Goldhill, 1993). Can ancient myths have meaning for 21st century humans? After all, to most of us, Prometheus and Pandora have no greater ontological substance than Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy. Carl Jung claimed that the power of myth lay in the fact that the characters represent primal archetypes of human nature (Jung, 1964). Joseph Campbell considered myths to be the “dictionary of the language of the soul”, not to be read literally, but understood as psychic metaphors, revelatory of universal axioms of human nature (Campbell, 1988). Prometheus and Pandora are not to be understood as gods external, but rather as primal elements existing within the brow and heart of all humans. The myth points to the potential good and bad consequences of human manipulation of the power of nature. The myth of Prometheus and Pandora is perhaps even more relevant to modern humans than to the ancient Greeks. For in the 21st century, our technologies knock at the gates of heaven. We manipulate space, time, matter, energy and even life itself. Through technology, we would become as gods. Levi-Strauss claimed that myths raise as many questions as they answer (Willis, 1993). The myth of Prometheus and Pandora raises pertinent questions for modern humans: what will humanity do with the technological might of the gods? Will our use of technology lead to Utopia or Dystopia? We have the knowledge to harness and manipulate the forces of nature, but do we have the wisdom necessary to do so in an ecologically and socially sustainable manner? Modern myths, such as the economic myths of sustainable growth and perfect markets, may similarly reveal more about deep seated human psychological characteristics than reflect accurate descriptions of social and physical reality. In order to address these questions, we begin by investigating the relationship between humanity's cultural and social evolution, technology and nature. We then proceed to unpack the issues surrounding the social and environmental impacts of technology. Finally, we consider implications of the analysis for ecological economics and the ethics and social structure of society.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In order for our species to avoid causing major ecological and social catastrophe caused by the interaction of human nature, technologies of godlike power, and the natural world, a new ethic of social and biotic responsibility is required. In the version of the Promethean myth recounted by Plato in his dialogue Protagoras and Menos, Zeus eventually became concerned about the harm humans were doing to themselves with technology and charged Hermes with giving to all humans the political virtues of justice and modesty so that they might be able to live harmoniously. The implication is that we need morality to control the use of technology (Plato, 1956). We have tried to avoid subscribing to either genetic determinist or technological determinist positions. While both these theories embody a degree of truth, we believe neither is absolute nor necessary. Nor are we anti-science—a better scientific understanding of ecology and the development of new ecologically sustainable technologies, as well as the psychology and sociology of co-operation, competition and aggression, are essential for our (non-calamitous) survival in our current and predicted future population numbers. However, the arguments presented here make the claim that Promethean technologies combined with human nature suggest a policy approach to technology that is based on precaution and appropriate regulation of the management and diffusion of such technologies. They also suggest that, in order to avoid the problem of malevolent technological application, a major re-think of our values systems and ethical approaches that aligns our technological power with human nature, social responsibility, distributive justice, political action, and ecosystem knowledge, is necessary. In a sensible world, short-term commercial and economic imperatives must take a back seat to long-term survival imperatives. Unfortunately, Western civilisation currently appears to be in denial about this self-evident proposition. In some ways, the direction of current technological progress is creating a less resilient society—technology is increasingly distancing our stone age minds from the natural world in which we evolved. We have become dependent on our machines to produce the necessities of our survival. The more efficient our machines become the further removed and alienated the majority of humans become from the means and activities of survival. The ever stretching tendrils of communication and management now provide our most salient relationship to the necessities of survival, and at the same time, diminish the social mechanisms controlling the morality of our behaviour. Future technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics will amplify this alienation, further increasing our dependence on technology. Alienation from the means of production of survival necessities and dependence on technology leave society vulnerable to technological failure brought about by natural disaster or human induced disaster caused accidentally, incidentally or malevolently. In some versions of the Pandorian myth, only Hope remained trapped in Pandora's jar under the control of humankind. In other less optimistic retellings of the myth, it is ‘illusory’ Hope that remains trapped. This begs another analogy: What are humankind's chances of developing sufficient wisdom to use modern technology safely? Is such a hope a true possibility or merely illusory hope? We would like to be optimists regarding this question. Unfortunately, the weight of evidence does not seem to be on the side of optimism. Nonetheless, there are grounds for limited optimism. Current scientific evidence suggests that approximately 50% of pro-social and anti-social behaviour is genetic and the other 50% is environmental (Rushton et al., 1986 and Eysenck, 1994). Perhaps this offers us a degree of hope above the merely illusory. Montagu (1978) in “Learning Non-Aggression” states the positive case for hope: Humans beings can learn anything. Among other things, they can learn to be wholly non-aggressive. The human genetic constitution is in no way to be regarded as the equivalent of the theological doctrine of predestination. Whatever humanity's potentialities for aggression may be, and we know that such potentialities exist, it is clear that their expression will largely depend upon the environmental stimulation they receive. If this is so, then there is reason for optimism, for if we understand the conditions that produce aggressive behaviour, there is some hope that by changing those conditions we may be able to control both its development and expression. (p. 6) Given an appropriate upbringing in a cultural environment that discourages aggression and encourages co-operation rather than competition (or provides acceptable constructive activities to channel competitive energy), it is probable that aggression can be greatly suppressed and technology used for universal benefit rather than accidental, incidental or malevolent harm. However, given our genetic disposition to try and gain what we perceive to be our fair share of the resources, and to reciprocate oppression with malevolence, a major impediment to such an optimistic scenario is the current hugely inequitable distribution of resources amongst the world's population and the systematic political, economic, and military oppression of weaker nations by wealthy, militarily powerful nations. To prevent societal collapse in a technologically advanced world humans need to address and reduce social and material inequity in the world, both between and within nations. Nations also need to learn to act democratically to solve differences and address global issues. To achieve this, some nations, in particular the wealthy and powerful, must be prepared to relinquish some currently perceived rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, this may prove to be an extremely difficult goal. As Tversky and Kahneman, 1981 and Tversky and Kahneman, 1991 have shown, people are loss aversive-reluctant to undertake activities that diminish the status quo and, consequently, they tend to be risk taking in efforts to avoid future losses to it. Organisations both commercial and political need to realise the futility and danger of the currently popular political ideal that competition is more efficient and effective than co-operation. Perhaps ecological economics could be used to investigate whether competition in a world of finite resources has greater ecosystem service costs than co-operation. Organisations could perhaps look to the example of more collaborative and less combatant traditional societies for inspiration and guidance. We tentatively propose the following moral and social changes to society that we believe may enhance the optimistic possibility of a continuing successful and sustainable human society and global ecology. We put these ideas forward for discussion. Some are little more than commonsense and justice, others may be considered radical, and some are contrary to current mainstream Western economic and ethical thinking. However, we believe that if the arguments presented in this paper are correct, then many of these changes may be necessary to avoid human induced disaster. 4.1. Philosophical approach 1. Abandonment of the socially and morally bereft philosophy that progress equates with economic growth. 2. Abandonment of the philosophy of competition as one of the highest human ideals and its replacement with co-operation. 4.2. Equity 3. The elimination of poverty which means the equitable distribution of wealth and resources at a globally sustainable level. This may require wealthy nations to give up some (perhaps a lot) of the share of resources that we currently command. A considerable degree of perception of poverty is relative. We are rich or poor compared to some “other”. A perception of disparity of wealth and resources evokes feelings of unfairness, injustice and anger. Such feelings are a principal source of aggressive retaliative behaviour and altruistic punishment. 4. Equitable access to health care and education for all people. 5. The relinquishment by people in wealthy nations of some freedoms that they currently consider to be their ‘natural human rights’, some of which people of other nations do not share and some of which no human beings possessed a century or two ago—e.g., the freedom to use energy in large quantities, the freedom to travel around the globe at will and at great speed, the freedom to amass or use amounts of the world's resources that would be ecologically unsustainable if equitably available to all people. 6. The wholesale adoption of child rearing practices that help develop non-aggressive, co-operative societies whose focus is on equitable rights balanced by individual and collective responsibilities to other humans, future humans, and the non-human natural world. 4.3. Ecosystem service and impact focus 7. Minimisation of unnecessary global trading and a strong emphasis on the local production of food and essential goods—self-sufficient, resilient, local communities—rather than artificially cheap commodities for Westerners built on the back of economic slavery of poorer nations. Such a policy, besides increasing the resilience of local communities and pricing goods realistically in local markets, would reduce levels of alienation from the means of survival while also reducing the huge and largely unnecessary amount of energy (and hence ecosystem pollution) currently used to move goods around the globe. 8. Voluntary population limitation—there are too many humans and our numbers are increasing too rapidly for sustainability. 4.4. Institutions and governance 9. Global co-operation on global issues—e.g., climate change, species extinction, deforestation, international justice, equitable resource distribution. 10. Sustainability planning considered, not in periods of political or human lifetimes, but in the lifetimes of ecological systems. 11. A democratic United Nations rather than the current arrangement where rich nations have a dominating influence, and may choose to veto or ignore majority decisions or act unilaterally with immunity. 12. The full participation and co-operation of all nations (including superpowers) in an International Justice system where leaders of nations can be held accountable for crimes against humanity. 13. The gradual elimination of Intellectual Property Rights—knowledge should belong to all humans—not be captured by wealthy nations to maintain positions of wealth and power inequity. 4.5. Technology 14. The deliberate slowing of the release of new technologies until their likely applications and resulting ecological impacts are more clearly understood. 15. The non-adoption (or abandonment) of technologies that are ecologically unsustainable when universally accessible to all people. This does not mean that such technologies should not be researched as new discoveries may lead to a technology becoming ecologically and equitably sustainable. Unless we make the world a more just place and try to eliminate the causes of discontent and aggression, and raise our children to be less competitive and non-aggressive, then our increasing technological power will be increasingly used in malevolent ways by an increasing number of people and groups. Without such a radical re-envisaging of our world and moral values, technological catastrophe seems almost inevitable before the dawn of the 22nd century. Knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for wisdom. As Samuel Johnson said, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”