Contesting our Quest for a Technological Fix

Today science and technology are instruments of development and are contested territories in our society. Techo-optimists think that both science and technology can fix all ills of our society. This belief in science and technology’s ability to deliver progress is associated with right-wing politics. Right-wing politics largely focuses on the distribution of culture. This is a kind of determinism and calls upon all to fall in line with communitarianism which calls upon them to sacrifice their individual freedom. Such an uncritical view can result in weaponization, militarization, pauperization of the subalterns and destruction of ecology. This is why there is a need for dialogue between Science and Religion. This does not mean that all ails of science and technology have a religious fix. It only means that in the context of the mutual dialogue of science and religion, humanity will be enabled to find apt solutions that can bring about salubrious and integral growth.

1. Debunking the Myth of Progress

There are those that question the positioning of science and technology as agents of development. They think that uncritical belief in science and technology will result in the annihilation of the human race and the destruction of our planet earth. The suspicion of science and technology is associated with the politics of the left-wing. Left-wing politics largely deals with the distribution of wealth. Thus, they mostly view science and technology to be on the side of the rich and the powerful. This is why dialogue with Religion can bring about pursuits of humane science and technology. This dialogue is urgent because technology has become a new religion. A worldview that celebrates techno-fixes seems to think that like God, technology will somehow rescue its nought children. We seem to have just replaced faith in God with faith in technology. Hence, we need to bring Technology, Science and Religion into dialogue to face the myth of progress. In the name of progress, we have already damaged the earth and its ecology. The deeply influential Anthropocene is joined by the destructive capitalocene. In the name of avoiding trouble and seeking our own comfort zones, we have put everything into trouble. We need new ways of learning to stay with the trouble. Humanity has to leap into being Chthulucene. We do not have to escape the world on the wings of technology but forge new partnerships with its wildness with the help of technology. Staying with trouble is profoundly incarnative and symbiotic.

2. Imagining the planet Earth without us

The technological explosion that we face today requires new ethics. This ethics has to move beyond the ethics that is chiefly grounded in signification. The transfer of information is bound to an assignifying signaletic process. New asigniffying semeiotics has to be factored into our reflection if we wish to develop ethics to respond to technologies like A I. To arrive at the ethics at the frontiers of science and technology, may have to take a radical locus philosophicus. Therefore, we may have to begin with what would be earth without us? What will happen when we sign off from the face of the earth? Will there be signs and traces of the glories and downfalls of humanity leaving some footprints on the sands, rocks, mountains and the seas of time? To decode these layers of footprints, perhaps we have to move from the static signs to more dynamic signaletic networks. The earth without humanity opens ground for water, animals and the sea to reclaim its space. The notion of the sign is static and hence we will have to come to the notion of signal networks. Deciphering the signaletic networks pulsating on the post-humanity earth, we may have insight into the ethics that we need to guide our life in a techno-driven society. The earth without us would not just have signal networks that indicate the presence of once glorious and dominant humanity but will manifest signals networks that will clearly manifest that humans are not indispensable to the earth and its inter-webbed living and non-living networks. This kind of disposability of humanity within the scheme of the networks of the earth will humble us and enable us to embrace that the presence of humanity is not without bad consequences to our planet and its various living beings. The humbling of humanity opens roads to think and build ethics that will enable us to serve life and the planet earth. Such ethics takes us away from ego-centric ethics that isolate and dominate the planet earth and will open ways of develop relational and caring ethics that does not disremember or dis-embeds humanity for the pulsating networks of the earth.

3. Towards Tentacular thinking

The biological sciences of the twenty-first century teach that the days of human singleton are counted. Descartes’ ‘I think therefore, I am’ is dead. The homo is on the way to become humus. The project of self-making or autopoiesis is a dying and sympoiesis is taking birth. The contact zones are always vibrant and alive. We cannot live an isolated life. We have to overcome the Anthropocene time as well as regimes of capitalocense. Humans live between and alongside other species and not completely separated. We have to give up mechanical certainty and embrace creative uncertainty. Mechanical philosophy and the clockwork deterministic worldview of Newtonian science are dead. Relativity, quantum physics and chaos theories have already opened us to uncertainty in science. Hence, thinking as standing against the world is replaced by thinking with the world. We, therefore, have to join the earth and its signaletic networks in order to think with the earth. This will enable us to understand that we have damaged our common home with our anthropocentric thought and culture. We can save the earth only by our caring inter-relations with the earth and all earthlings. What we need today is a response-ability. We seem to have surrendered our thinking with the earth and earthlings and were thinking against the earth. This evil of thoughtlessness is at the heart of the Anthropocene and capitolocene. This is why we have to change our linear thinking. We do not have to give up our response-ability skills. They are intelligent and learning skills. They enable us to pick the pulsating signals from the signalectic networks of the earth and all earthlings and generate responses that are caring and integrating. Such thinking is called tentacular thinking or chthonic thinking. Today we are building artificial intelligence that is interactive and learning and transforming its relations with its immediate environment. Intelligent machines are moving away from techno-fixed ways of thinking. Humanity therefore in order to flourish has to let this thinking with the earth and the earthlings flourish.

Conclusion

There is no real technological fix for the ills of our life. We also do not have a conceptual fix to reach a total and absolute understanding of reality. Technology does mediate reality for us but it cannot exhaust it. Conceptual frameworks are also technologies of understanding. One has to note that we cannot make sense of the world without thinking about it in terms of time. Nothing is aperiodic. There is a rhythmic periodicity in everything. Everything interrelates and evolves over time. This is why signaletic asigninfying systems that stand beyond the semantics of meaning are required to understand reality. It will enable us to understand what technology does to the cosmos and us. We have the challenge to go beyond the hermeneutics that does exegesis through historically determined interpretive fields as well as semiotics that seeks atemporised models of productive meaning. Maybe we are challenged to take us desemiotised semiologies or as-signifying semiologies in order to understand big data analytics that simply codifies, digitizes and stores data in quantitative moulds. This productive hermeneutics will open us to generate ethics that will not act against the earth and its earthlings but will integrate us with the living and pulsating networks of the earth. We need an ethics of attunation with earth and its earthlings. It will attune us to the cosmos, the earth and earthlings

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao