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The Sceptical Optimist: Why Technology Isn't the Answer to by Nicholas Agar

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By Nicholas Agar

The fast advancements in applied sciences -- in particular computing and the arrival of many 'smart' units, in addition to swift and perpetual verbal exchange through the web -- has resulted in an often voiced view which Nicholas Agar describes as 'radical optimism'. Radical optimists declare that accelerating technical growth will quickly finish poverty, disorder, and lack of know-how, and enhance our happiness and health and wellbeing. Agar disputes the declare that technological growth willautomatically produce nice advancements in subjective health. He argues that radical optimism 'assigns to technological growth an undeserved pre-eminence between the entire pursuits pursued by way of our civilization'. in its place, Agar makes use of the latest mental reviews approximately human perceptions of wellbeing and fitness to create a practical version of the impression know-how could have. even supposing he accepts that technological strengthen does produce advantages, he insists that those are considerably under these proposed via the novel optimists, and elements of such development may also pose a probability to values akin to social justice and our courting with nature, whereas difficulties reminiscent of poverty can't be understood intechnological phrases. He concludes via arguing extra life like review of the advantages that technological boost can convey will let us greater deal with its hazards in destiny.

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It is now clear that few cancers can be straightforwardly cut out of human bodies. Perhaps future historians of cancer will confirm that, although progress is exponential, we are currently, and will remain for quite some time, in the slow growth part of the relevant exponential curve or curves. The idea that some technologies are improving at a pace that is slower than others because they are still in the slow growth phases of their exponential curves may not seem so bad. But it would be bad news for radical optimists if many of the technologies that matter most to human well-being are grinding through the slow growth parts of their curves.

This glass half empty picture emphasizes that fundamental advances in the understanding of disease processes are required before we can hope for therapies that genuinely cure rather than merely reduce the severity of some symptoms. The radical optimists require not only that technologies that bear directly on human well-being are undergoing exponential improvement. They want this improvement to be entering the rapid-growth part of the curve of exponential improvement. In the remainder of this chapter I consider two reasons why progress in a broad range of well-being technologies might now or soon be both exponential and rapid.

I will argue that we can better see how to reduce the many risks of technological progress once we appreciate that its benefits are systematically oversold. The mere act of scaling back the value of technological progress indicates how to avoid its many hazards and pitfalls. I will describe a more cautious approach to technological progress enabled by freeing ourselves of our technology bias. Concluding comments We now have some idea of the radically optimistic claim that accelerating technological progress can significantly enhance well-being.

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