The current technological development poses both significant problems and offers potential solutions. However, it is not clear whether the ultimate results will be positive or not. This paper elaborates on the Prevail Scenario, specifies the major existing problem, and proposes the potential solution. The necessary support and addressing counter-arguments will be presented. In general, the future development of humanity is uncertain because the same technological achievements may be used for different purposes. Despite this fact, humans possess all the necessary resources and knowledge to solve the major existing problems.
First of all, it is necessary to present the essence of the problem. Although the rapid technological progress is evident, the future development of humanity is uncertain. The philosopher Lanier suggests that it is incorrect to believe that the future of the world is either necessarily positive or negative. The reason is that people may use technological achievements differently. Therefore, both scenarios are possible, and it is unreasonable to evaluate technologies in isolation from the interactions of specific individuals. Technologies do not exist independently but merely reflect some people’s needs and motives. Technologies are neither moral nor immoral; they just allow performing some operations and functions more effectively than before.
The problem may become even more serious if some individuals or groups adopt the incorrect and asocial modes of behavior. In these cases, they may threaten the lives and well-being of others. It seems that it is impossible to control the actions and desires of all individuals. For this reason, some technologies should be directed to neutralize or at least minimize the negative impact of other technologies. This tendency is observed in the sphere of cyber security where substantial efforts are directed to preserve the highest security standards of information and data.
Colburn stresses that all current technologies are disruptive by their essence. It means that the emergence of a particular technology creates the corresponding problems for other innovations. Moreover, technologies force entrepreneurs and engineers to revise their previous plans and adjust their strategies to the new opportunities and restraints. Although each individual is free to adopt a specific technology or not, the massive social pressure leads to the situation when the rate of technological development is very high. In order to stay competitive, the majority of people adopt almost all available technologies.
It seems that changes and some negative aspects associated with the technological development are typical for all types of changes. Any changes disturb the previous modes of production and consumption and may be negative for some individuals in some contexts. However, if the general positive aspects exceed negative ones, technology tends to become more widespread. The disruptive character of technologies just demonstrates that they are closely integrated with all spheres of people’s lives.
It is necessary to consider uncertainty to be one of the basic elements of the modern world. It is neglected by the advocates of both the Heaven and Hell society. On the one hand, they recognize the existence of crises such as global economic recessions. On the other hand, they cannot integrate them properly into the general system of their reasoning. The Prevail Scenario suggests that people’s knowledge is necessarily imperfect because they cannot predict the actions and responses of other social members with the absolute certainty. If the existence and degree of the market uncertainty is recognized, people can make more realistic assumptions about the external world. On the one hand, they may become more sensitive in relation to the risks that exist and cannot be quantitatively presented. On the other hand, people may become more pragmatic as they realize that all plans and strategies are non-perfect.
The proposed solution to the potential technological threats is as follows. It is necessary to create the attractive institutional environment where people from different countries will be able to exchange their ideas and realize that all their major interests are mutual and complementary. Van den Born states that different government and international policies create different incentives for technological development and people’s cooperation. Other things being equal, more liberal regimes contribute to a closer cooperation between individuals and encourage them to make more innovative decisions and implement a larger number of plans. Correspondingly, if the government introduces heavy taxes and regulates all spheres of individuals’ lives, they cannot become fully integrated into the global system.
It seems that the role of the national governments is very high in relation to creating the necessary conditions for entrepreneurs and the general public in adopting the recent technologies. Moreover, the governments can affect the structure of investments through creating different incentives in different industries. In this way, the strategic development of the national economy may be encouraged. However, the main issue is not even related to economics but to people’s morality and responsibility. All individuals should feel responsible not only for their personal well-being but also for that of other people. The peace and ecology are among the basic examples that demonstrate the common interests of all social members.
One of the implications from this fact is that people should become more responsible regarding the use of technologies. They should consider the following key aspects. The first one is the potential benefits that may be generated for the actor and other individuals. The second one is the potential disadvantages and threats associated with the use of technologies. Moreover, the second aspect is even more significant because the level of uncertainty tends to increase, and a larger number of factors should be evaluated.
The responsibility of individuals can also be promoted and encouraged by the effective government policies and strategies. It seems that the proper legal environment should be established according to which all individuals should be responsible for the harm inflicted on others. It may include both material and immaterial damages. The independent experts may determine the level of harm inflicted on others, and this amount should be withheld from an actor. In this way, the victim may receive the fair compensation, and the aggressor will receive the stimulus to reconsider his/her behavior in the future.
It is necessary to stress that the shape of the curve of technological development (it corresponds to the exponential growth) may be affected by people’s attitude as their consciousness is independent of pure technological factors. Thus, the level of future threats is mostly determined by the course of actions adopted by individuals rather than the technological stage. Currently, the humanity possesses the weapons of such a magnitude that may lead to the world-scale disaster. Thus, there is no need for concentrating on the future technological progress as a source of threats because even the current stage is characterized by the maximum possible degree of risks.
The liberal policy of the government may have additional implications in this respect. If the government adopts a liberal vision, it encourages tolerance among all social members, and a large number of religious and non-religious organizations may receive an opportunity to operate in a given country. They will be able to find their target audience and persuade people to be more responsible. The counter-argument to this reasoning may refer to the position that the liberal environment may encourage all some organizations to expose aggressive and immoral claims. Thus, it may be reasonable to introduce additional regulations and control the public more closely.
However, this reasoning is incorrect for several reasons. First, the modern global world does not allow establishing the total control over all individuals as they may communicate not only directly but via various innovative methods. Second, the long-term solution can be found only if individuals’ self-responsibility is promoted. It should be their voluntary choice based on their understanding of the role of mutual respect in a modern society. A more liberal political regime will promote the emergence of a large number of various organizations that will promote the responsible attitude towards other social members. Although some organizations may advocate the opposite position, the free intellectual environment will lead to the desires results.
Another counter-argument may refer to the view that the government should not play any distinct role from other organizations. However, it seems to be incorrect because the government controls a much higher amount of resources as well as different structure of power in comparison with NGOs. Therefore, the functions and role of the government in addressing the potential technological threats seem to be unique. At the same time, the ineffective government strategy may create additional risks and threats because individuals may receive additional incentives to be involved in socially dangerous actions.
Denning stresses that the modern creative economy offers several new opportunities and threats. Entrepreneurs may generate higher revenues and additional benefits if they utilize the available technological resources properly. However, the positive effects cannot be achieved automatically as they require the creative and innovative solutions. It may be expected that the level of creativity in the global economy will tend to increase especially under the current competitive pressure. In general, the global economic and social environment has the necessary resources for solving the existing technological threats.
It may be expected that the humanity will be able to find the mutually acceptable ways of solving the existing contradictions. The majority of people comprehend that the basic interests and needs are common for all individuals regardless of their race or nationality. It is reasonable to encourage the existing diversity as it is the source of the subsequent technological and social progress. At the same time, the rights of all people and groups should be respected. Any attempts of aggression or rights violations should be strictly punished. If these principles are shared and implemented by people all over the world, the future development of the world’s civilization seems promising.
It may be concluded that uncertainty is always present in people’s actions and choices. As the actions and motives of other people are unknown, it is impossible to make the precise estimations in all possible cases. Therefore, neither the Heaven nor Hell Scenarios are predetermined. People can influence their future through making timely and correct conclusions from their previous experience. The Prevail Scenario seems to be the most realistic and adequate. If the majority of the population realizes the existing technological treats, they can be effectively prevented. Otherwise, the risks will tend to increase.
All major technological challenges should be resolved through the collective efforts of people from different regions of the world. The diversity should be encouraged, but any forms of discrimination or violence should be neutralized. The national governments should select the rational strategies in this context as it is important to encourage the responsible attitude among citizens as well as punish the offenders. Although the future is highly uncertain, it seems that the global society has the necessary resources to overcome the current challenges and achieve the sustainable development.