The triumph of technology

The British public’s choice of safety bicycle as Britain’s greatest invention of all times, bypassing scientific achievements such as electricity generation, the jet engine, the invention of vaccination and the discovery of DNA structure, triggered the topic for this Reith’s series of lectures, titled “The triumph of technology”, given by Lord Broers and broadcasted by BBC4. The lectures take place in April and May and their transcripts and recordings can be found here.

“Humankind’s way of life has depended on technology since the beginning of civilization. It can indeed be argued that civilization began when humans first used technologies, moving beyond the merely instinctual and into an era when people began to impose themselves on their environment, going beyond mere existence, to a way of life which enabled them to take increasing advantage of their intellect…In the course of these lectures I shall look at some of the ways in which technologies have grown more complex, and yet how – despite hugely expanded public education – understanding of them has diminished.”

“Modern technology tends to be thought of in terms of the advances brought about by computers and electronic communications but it is in transport, medicine, energy and weaponry that we have seen the greatest impact upon our lives. It is these areas that distinguish the first world from the second and third worlds.

If poverty and disease are to be alleviated and the environment sustained, then technology must be harnessed on a vast and all inclusive scale. Large scale industry must be involved. Significant technology is not created by lone workers but by tens and hundreds of individuals working together across social and geographic boundaries.”

“I want this lecture series to act as a wake up call to all of us. Technology, I repeat, will determine the future of the human race. We should recognise this and give it the profile and status that it deserves.”

Topics already discussed are “Technology will determine the Future of the Human Race” and “Collaboration”, and the upcoming are “Innovation and management”, “Nanotechnology and Nanoscience” and “Risk and responsibility