All of the major changes in the last two hundred years have been at a scale never seen before. In each era, people have talked about imminent doom. Life will continue to move in this direction until something else happens......
For at least 200 years now, futurists have been predicting the imminent rise of a technological utopia, drawing on the premise that technology will free humankind from labor, suffering, disease, and possibly even death. Underlying this view is a defining story of our civilization: that science has brought us from a state of ignorance to an increasing understanding of the physical universe, and that technology has brought us from a state of dependency on nature's whims to an increasing mastery of the material world. Someday in the future, goes the story, our understanding and control will be complete.
Philosophers of science will protest that it is already well-established, even in conventional circles, that perfect knowledge and perfect control of the universe is probably impossible (due to such things as mathematical incompleteness, quantum indeterminacy, and sensitive dependence on initial conditions). Be that as it may, this information has yet to filter down to the level of popular consciousness, even among scientists. What I am talking about is the faith encapsulated in the saying, "Science will surely explain it someday." It is the faith that the answer is there, the answer is accessible to science, and that science itself is well-grounded in its primary principles and methods. The technological corollary to this faith in science is our faith in the technological fix. Whatever the problem, the solution lies in technology—finding a way to solve the problem. Science will find an answer. Technology will find a way.
Underlying the Technological Program is a kind of arrogance, that that we can control, manage, and improve on nature. Many of the dreams of Gee Whiz technology are based on this. Control the weather! Conquer death! Download your consciousness onto a computer! Onward to space! All of these goals involve controlling or transcending nature, being independent of the earth, independent of the body. Nanotechnology will allow us to design new molecules and build them atom by atom. Perhaps someday we will even engineer the laws of physics itself. From an initial status of subordination to nature, the Technological Program aims to give us mastery over it, an ambition with deep cultural foundations. Descartes' aspiration that science would make us the "lords and possessors of nature" merely restated an age-old ambition: "And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Genesis 1:28).