Technology and Magic

Posted: 06/12/2010 in Philosophy, Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

Are there more seeming opposites than technology and magic?  Technology works objectively, whereas magic, based on superstition, seems to be ineffective.  The former is perceived to be rational and is associated with a scientific outlook; the latter is seen to be irrational illogical. But our expectations for technology have become magical and our use of it is increasingly irrational.  Magic in turn has acquired a rational façade even it is called sometimes the “science” of illusion.  In short, technology and magic, while separate and distinct categories in some abstract sense, are more and more related to each other. Sir Arthur Charles Clarke has even postulated a law: “Have you noticed how any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic?” [1]

This is how:

We can fly over the rainbow so high (it’s not a dream anymore). We can touch the sky, the stars. We can visit the moon. We can talk to those on the other side of the world. We can make that which is old, new. We can turn fire to ice, and vice versa. We can turn darkness to light. We can make salt water drinkable. We can change every being of how we look. We can breathe under water. We can see beyond the reach of the eye (TV, cameras). We can also see the invisible (infrared…).  We can see the world of the very small and the very large. We can fight disease. Tell me, is that not magical?

Play this mind game; Imagine that you’ve returned to Europe in the Middle Ages wearing only your “birthday suit.” Your task is to introduce our ancestors to any of our modern technology using only the information you carry in your head. This is not such a simple task. The average modern man hasn’t a clue how technology actually works, or how he might reproduce it from scratch. For example, you might describe a cellular telephone to the King of France. He would blink a few times and say, “Alright, build one.” It’s not enough that you simply tell them about technology. If you cannot reproduce this technology, then you are a charlatan in their eyes, and you would be burned like all sorcerers of that era. Another point, could you live in that age without TV, phone, computer, internet and facebook?

Just by comparing what we have now to what our ancestors have, we can say that we are living now in a magical world and this magic is only becoming better; yet we still find many people unhappy or unsatisfied. Why? Basically, Happiness can’t be materialized and it’s independent of our technological power. The same person can be happy in dark ages and can be sad nowadays or vice-versa. Today’s problem is that we are being brain washed with advertising campaigns that are portraying happiness as pleasure increased by consumption: look at the ecstatic expressions on the faces of the actors or models in any commercial. The subliminal message behind it is buy our product, you will become magically happier.

Finally, with great power – be it magical or technological – comes great responsibility. It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. [2] Time to focus more on our humanity’s progress before the magic of our technology turns against its magician!

[1]: Clarke’s Third Law – Profiles of the Future (revised edition, 1973).

[2]: Albert Einstein

  1. ram0ram says:

    divine…. a wise post ….. Either people believe there is current or people do not believe there is current. Knowing the current is religion , knowing the use of current is science, Believing…. and not believing ………both are philosophies.

    with advancement of science is like advancement of body….. next step now should happen is advancement of soul….that will be good human progress…

    love all…

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