Technology. The ultimate double-edged sword. Technology has brought mankind immense benefits: modern medicine and tools that save lives and increase the human lifespan; it has lifted millions out of poverty, increased food production, and made education universally available (at least in principle….); and my favorite, air conditioning! But unethical and faulty application of technology has brought us pollution, oil spills, weapons of mass destruction, a surveillance state, and Chernobyl.
That is why one of my favorite subjects has been ethics in science and technology. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. The image above was created way back in 1990, before the internet came of age, to show that we are becoming more and more dependent on our technology. In fact, the time may come when we are controlled and subservient to our tech. The three heads painted on the wall represent the three big energy sources: electrical, mechanical, and nuclear. In short, they mean Power, in its truest sense.
Trinity was based on a photograph I made for my senior thesis while attending Bard College (I was a photography major). For my senior thesis, I did a series of photographs where I sandwiched two or three negatives together in the enlarger and made photo illustrations, long before Photoshop was a twinkle in Adobe’s eye. Layering images together, you can get a more complex composite image, and often you create unexpected juxtapositions. You can see that I used the homeless man in the photo as my reference for the figure in Trinity.
Another example of ethics in science is my drawing above. Cloning and genetic engineering is becoming more mainstream, and new ethical questions arise with this technology. Should we clone humans? What about human tissue? We as a society need to take the necessary time to debate the ethics involved before we rush into mass-use of any new technology.