I’m a New Zealand philosopher who has recently gotten really interested in the broader human significance of technological progress. When we look back on our technologically primitive past we have an impression of people whose lives were shorter, dirtier, and more diseased than our own. When we think about the technologically-enhanced future we are inclined to think of lives that are much better in all of these respects. In The Sceptical Optimist (OUP, 2015) I argue that these imaginative exercises (attitudinal time travel) undersell the past and oversell the future.
Such imaginative failures have a distorting influence on how we think about benefits and risks of technological progress. We tend to exaggerate the former and understate the latter. I’m currently working on a book that offers a big picture ethical evaluation of technological revolutions starting with the Neolithic Revolution and leading up to today’s digital revolution. Stay tuned for publication information.
I work at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The city of Wellington is a thoroughly excellent place to live, think, and work. You might detect the effects of high quality Wellington coffee in the photo to the left.