Thursday, May 1, 2008

Science and Government

The "Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense"--if you can say that five times, the government will have already looked down your throat, up your...birth certificate, checked your face, your iris, analyzed your gait, and stored ALL your Internet activity. Technology geared for "home protection"--and other things? Just how far reaching is this agency? Is privacy a mere memory? Is "Scientia Est Potentia" to mean "Science Has Potential" or "Knowledge Is Power"? Now we will all be paranoid. Pass the Prozac please.

Here's a two part question:

1.) Should science be a part of any government: Have a major role in policy formations or should science take a more shadowy role in government policies offering just technical advise and supplying nothing but technological achievements? If so, in what ways.

2.) Do you envision a totally scientific oriented government in the future: A "technocratic" governmental institution establishing all rules and regulations of mankind and man's exploration of space. If so, list some areas that science would become involved such as ethics, religion, education, a division of labor, a society of pure contemplation, laws, genetic engineering. Would mankind lose "freedom"? Would it be for the best of man? Technocratic societies like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the Atlantis myth, George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, or Eugene Zamathian's We--just myths and fantasy or is mankind heading towards something revolutionary?

When I started thinking about this topic, my first thought was: "This is impossible, mankind is a complex system and cannot be controlled" - this is a biased thought of someone who lives in a democratic country. But thinking a bit more, I see that we have examples of many systems [not only governmental, but also spiritual and even the "media industry"] which "control" human beings. I believe that actually none of us is completely free. But the ones who are living in a democracy, have the right to choose who will "control" them [science, faith, government, fashion, etc.], using the individual free-will.

Science does play an important role in any government that wishes progress [and why not include "money" as well], but maybe it should not have a major role in policy formations in a democracy. Science works quite well with "nature" but I am not sure if it would have the same effect on "people". It is known that it is not easy to govern a country with so much different people, faiths, customs. I do not believe that the objective nature of science would "control" all the variables [In my opinion Philosophy would play a better role on that than science would]. Science could give its support to the government by its notions of ethics, methodology, lack of speculations, accurate results [science how it should be, not how it is now].

If a technocratic governmental institution be established somewhere, some people would adapt well, and they would not think that they are losing their "freedom" in any way - perhaps the scientists... who knows. But since it is an imposed system, of course many people would try to fight against it - the technosociety would apply "behavior formulae" to mankind [uh... maybe "greed = money² x wealth / compassion" (ugh... quantification of greed!)].

Maybe we need to take another look at the structure of this society [or any society] with a ruling body be it a monarchy, dictatorship, democracy, republic, etc. Those ruling bodies do have a specific say in the control of a society--many by social consensus. It is an agreed upon set of rules or methodology to control certain aspects of a society. Some are as simple as a set of traffic regulations or as barbaric with the loss of a limb for stealing a loaf of bread--and many more complex examples. Some aren't fair and much abuse occurs. Nevertheless, science does infiltrate these structures. Take for example the automotive industry and safety or the pharmaceutical industry. Automobiles are more efficient and safe through government regulation. Pharmaceuticals are, in general, safe due to high standards of the Federal Drug Administration and additional laws prohibiting false advertising and quackery. But, how would it be for a whole society to be operating on a scientific basis. Who would establish the protocol and rules of ethics? Remember the story line of a movie called Soylent Green? There, when a person reached a certain age, they were terminated--and became food. Science promoting a set of ethics whereby age is a liability for the good of a society.


No comments: