The question of whether modern technological development has been beneficial or detrimental to human beings is perhaps the most pressing question that faces our society. If technology is harmful, then we need to minimize or eliminate the danger. If technology is not the source of the problems and concerns that are frequently attributed to it, then we need to find another cause for the social and psychological pressures faced by our society, so we can address these problems. Ever since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, people have voiced complaints about the harmful effects of technology. Therefore, we need to examine what Martin Heidegger, a twentieth-century German philosopher, called "The Question Concerning Technology." In his introduction to Heidegger's speech entitled "The Question Concerning Technology," editor David Krell stated that on this question "hinges nothing less than the survival of the species man and the planet earth."
Martin Heidegger was one of the individuals who examined this question most carefully. However, groups such as the Freedom Club (or FC), of which the Unabomber is a member, have brought it to our attention most forcefully. Since Dr. Theodore Kaczynski has recently agreed to accept responsibility for the Unabomber crimes, this is also a particularly appropriate time to examine these problems.
FC alleges that the Industrial Revolution has brought about much psychological devastation and environmental destruction, while Heidegger warns against the possibility that man may be enslaved by technology. Not only ivory-tower intellectuals and maladjusted hermits spend time considering the problems posed by technology, however. Diverse popular fiction writers such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Walter M. Miller Jr. have also considered them. In his own way, each of these authors addresses the problems that technology poses our society. Entire genres of popular music with revealing names, such as "Industrial" and "Techno" have also arisen in recent decades. For example, "Industrial" music frequently deals with existential anguish, alienation, and meaninglessness of life as important themes. Some "Industrial" bands, such as Nine Inch Nails, have even produced multi-platinum albums and won important popular music awards.
These factors indicate that problem of technology pervades our society and culture, whether consciously or subconsciously. And yet, in order to consider the problems posed by technology, it is necessary to discover the nature of the problem. While examining arguments against modern technology, I have encountered two main strands of thought concerning its dangers.
Perhaps one of the best critiques of the modern technological-industrial system can be found in FC's document Industrial Society and Its Future, more commonly known as the "Unabomber Manifesto." Because this text has had such a wide-ranging impact on our society, I will examine it first. Although...