From Air to Religion: Priestly’s Thirst for Knowledge

Governments and religions should fear air pumps and electrical machines because as seen in The Invention of Air, Priestly has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His journey for technological quenching pushed him to explain the very mysticisms behind Christianity. Upon realization, however, that the religion lacked empirical evidence, Priestly couldn’t bring himself to lose faith (Johnson, 154). The only reason this was possible was because Priestly had those machines, which made explaining natural phenomena much easier. So, if Priestly could learn how air worked, why not religion?

Johnson’s work made the social and political consequences of technological research much more apparent throughout part two. One current example that had major political and social consequences comes in the form of Sophia the robot. Sophia gained Saudi Arabian citizenship in October 2017. This brings to light several questions about citizenship and robotics. Should robots who are considered citizens also be afforded human rights? Do robots then have the right to vote and participate in human elections?

To some, this could be seen as a “technological fix” because of its uses in human preservation. Technological fixes are scientific solutions to typically social problems, such as the “platform problem” in the article. They became increasingly popular because it provided politicians and economists a way to hand off responsibility to engineers. We should be cautious of these fixes, however, because all of these advances have upset the natural balance. Every action has an equal but opposite reaction. So, if we’re constantly upsetting the natural balance, there has to be a point where that balance snaps back and hurts us. 

Personally, I think the advancements we make are helpful and very useful for the society we’ve built, but they shouldn’t come at the cost of nature. Manufacturing pieces of land strictly for wood collection instead of deforestation would cause significantly less harm to nature. If there’s a way to advance without upsetting the natural balance, I would be all for it.

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