Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. –Arthur C. Clarke
Have we, as a civilisation, become gods?
This is a notion that has compelled me for some time now. Have we advanced ourselves significantly, to the point where our technologies are indistinguishable from magic?
Consider this: 109 years ago, man made the first heavier-than-air flight. Less than a month ago, a vehicle the size of a car was sent over a billion miles away, to a neighbouring planet, controlled of its own volition, essentially an artificial intelligence, probing the surface of an alien terrain, looking for answers to life in the depths of our solar system.
To someone living just 110 years ago, this concept would be absurd. It would be considered whimsical, something relegated to science fiction – or even still, to the realm of magic.
So, have we become gods? Have we undergone apotheosis? Our engineering speaks for itself. Despite the gloom that has descended upon our collective psyche in the aftermath of a decade wrought by terrorism, political strife and climate crises, we have made significant progress. Mankind has bolted forward in an exponentially quickening pace, advancing his technologies to the point where they are becoming indistinguishable from the arcane realm of magic. The boundaries between magic and science are fast drawing toward a singularity.
To better understand this, we need to adopt a mindset based upon perspective: understanding things based on the context surrounding them. I’ve laid out an example above (the progress of flight), but this stands for any other technological achievement – from something we take for granted today, such as the household refrigerator – to the advanced science powering nuclear power stations, hydroelectric stations, and even our floating laboratory – the International Space Station, a lab that’s advancing our understanding of life-threatening diseases like cancer. The idea of communicating across continents at the swipe of a touchscreen is indeed a “magical” thing, something that would be alien to humans living under Imperial Roman rule. A thousand years ago, these thoughts didn’t even cross the great minds of the time. Yet today, they are given components of the technological world we live in.
To the ancients, our civilisation has become the Vulcans, Mars’, Jupiters and Zeus’s that they revered. The question remains, though: with this increasingly powerful knowledge, how far will we go to protect the collective wisdom of the ages?