There have been many attempts to find a technological solution to the worlds problems, indeed there is a body of thought which states that ever since the start of the industrial revolution, and some would even say since man first tamed fire; that humanity has been on a quest to fix every problem which we encounter with a clever invention. The end goal of such a quest must surely be a technological utopia.
What is a technological utopia?
A Technological Utopia uses Civil Engineering, And Sociology, as well as Modern Psychology, as platforms from which to generate a design. A technological Utopia has several key advantages, in that it may be true that Technology and science have sufficient answers to generate at least a stable society, whereas previous Utopian experiments have been doomed to failure, primarily because of serious lack of real problem solving process.
Basically it is a system of civilization where by technology alleviates any burden that may otherwise oppress a citizen.
The problems with any Utopia ideals are the ways in which actual conditions and realities and entropy can cut down mere ideals and generate a dystopia. Dystopian visions of a technological society include "The Borg" From "Star Trek", and any of several other fictional explorations of possible futures.
Technophobia and technological dystopias
The amazing possibilities of new technologies to vastly change the world we live in have long been understood not only to bring life changing and brilliant new things into the world but also terrible new dangers. mass technophobia can be seen almost with out fail at the dawn of any new technology, be it the first manned flying machines or current cloning research; there is a natural reaction to fear unknown and new technologies. Through out human history this has been true - for example, recent research has suggested that the Romans had invented the steam engine but chose by decree of the emperor not to use it, preferring to keep there large slave workforce busy and thus avoid any possibility of a populist uprisingcitation needed.
George Orwell’s '1984' is a classic example of a dystopian portrayal of developing technologies and how they could be used to intrude into peoples lives and take away the freedoms and pleasures which we take for granted. '1984' was written in 1948 a time when television sets were becoming a common site in many well to do British homes, Orwell hypothesizes on their development into a method of control and has Big Brother use 'telley screens' to not only brainwash his citizens but also to watch constantly for any sign of disobedience. Many would argue that today’s CCTV culture which has everyone under constant surveillance is close to Orwell’s dark vision, and the constant drone of propaganda filling every room even more so.
In today’s world the fear of technology has not decreased as our understanding of science has increased, in fact with every new possibility come new fears. 'The matrix' achieved mass market success by investigated the now fairly common story of artificial intelligence gone wrong. The Japanese manga 'Ghost in the Shell' investigates the impact of artificial intelligence and super computing on a futuristic world and the dangers which it could bring. Human cloning, DNA modification, super toxins, weapons of mass destruction, etc, etc have all had loads of front page scare story headlines in recent years.
What would make a technological utopia
A machine which could control atoms to a subatomic level, that would turn base metal into gold has been the alchemists dream for thousands of years. There is a good reason for this, almost all wars that have ever been fought have in some way been over some hard to find natural resource, be it gold, tin, water or oil. If then there was found a way to turn any one element into another then there would presumably be no need to fight over many of the currently most war torn areas of the world. Further more, if a device which worked like the famous 'replicator' device featured in the cult tv series Star Trek, where by simply selecting from a menu you could create any item that has been programed in it would remove any need for transport, manifacture and retail. Assuming enough energy to run such a machine could be found most of the worlds problems would theoretically dissolve.
A person wouldn't need a large dwelling as there would be no need for item storage, a pair of shoes after being worn could be converted back into something else such as air or water. Extra rooms, sports equipment, etc could be created at will and removed when not in use. Industrial complexes, retail outlets, warehouses, etc could be removed thus freeing up space for forests or houses.
Such a technology is undoubtedly far off but through the use of existing and developing technologies a scientifically improved existence is now a realized fact no longer just an idle dream. Many inventions have greatly added too out quality of life ranging from the obvious such as Heaters, air conditioners, Computers, cars and phones to the subtle everyday devices which we have almost forgotten were once created by science such as the devices of logic, reason and our ever useful and hopefully wide understanding of the world around us. As Nitzher eluded when he said that 'mankind walks a tight-rope between the beast and the over man.' our development, although it has come a long way; is far from over.