Do not fear the ‘tech’

Thanks be to God, we have here neither free schools nor printing presses, and I hope we will not have any for a hundred years, for education has sent into the world doubt, heresy and sectarianism, and the printing press has propagated, in addition to all these evils, attacks against governments! -Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677), Governor of Virginia

Technology takes time to get use to. There is a bit of a delay between the implementation of something that has tremendous potential and the realization of that potential. Then, there is another delay between the realization of that potential and the integration of it.

Think of how drastically the moveable type printing press changed the world. The Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment were direct results of the printing press. This change did not happen overnight, and even as the change was happening, there were a lot of people abusing and misusing the new technology.

The same can be said for virtually all technology that changes how we live: the automobile, the jet liner, the telephone, the personal computer, the internet, the mobile device. These technologies are still in their infancy.

When Sir William Berkeley condemned the printing press, it had not yet spurred on the Age of Revolution. It was a century before the American Revolution. Many of the most subversive books of our culture had not yet been written. The printing press had not even begun to open the doors for heresy and sectarianism.

But along with the dangers came the tremendous benefits. The printed book gave millions access to information that had been hidden from them. Knowledge, wisdom, and information flowed freely in a way that we take for granted today, and which is dwarfed by the speed in which we share information now.

People condemned the telephone as dangerous to the family unit. The Internet was immoral and dangerous (parts of it still are!). Translating the Bible into ‘vulgar languages’ was condemned by clergy and monarchs alike. Every invention that has changed the world has been condemned at some point.

Technology itself is not evil. They are tools, and tools are only as good or evil as the hands that wield them. What can be used for evil can also be use for good.

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