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On the civilising power of technology

We fear what we cannot control. It’s only natural.

Any new advancement sparks a murmur about safeguards, protections and regulations.

Some discoveries and innovations are too dangerous a risk to be left to their own devices. Looking back at history, we see the process of humans cautiously taming technologies one by one: from the discovery of fire and domestication of dogs to harnessing electricity and nuclear power, we impose ourselves onto them as a species and learn to govern and control them. 

But through our attempt to domesticate and dominate, these technologies have had a profound and transformative impact on our humanity. Each one nudging us a step further from our primal roots towards a further stage in our human development.

Only in hindsight can we understand their unpredictable lasting impact. 

In Greek mythology,Titan Prometheus steals fire from the gods to bring it as a gift to humanity. It is fire, and symbolically technology and knowledge, that elevates humans above their primal existence, beyond their animality.

A myth that Mary Shelly revisits in “Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus” to warn us of the risks of playing god in the times of scientific optimism and progressive human control over the world. 

Ethical and responsible consideration is needed to minimise the harmful side effects of technology while fairly, evenly distributing its benefits - but we should not forget that technology is a force that shapes our humanity.

Though potentially disruptive and destabilising, it awakens and allows the underlying potential of our humanity to emerge and unfold. A catalyst for human development, we wouldn’t be who we are without each technological stride.

It may be technology that somehow domesticates, civilises and humanises us.

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