Slaying Dragons #24 – The Wonders of Digital

In today’s world, practically everything is digital or about to become digital and whether that is a good thing warrants some debate. Digital devices are examples of technology and I have held the view for a long time that technology, and the science it is based on, is generally neutral. What is good or bad is the use to which mankind puts the technology.

Nuclear decay is a natural phenomenon in which some elements break up and release enormous quantities of energy according to Einstein’s famous equation. The same physics gives us atomic bombs and nuclear power stations but the choice is ours.

The UK used to be able to do both, but we allowed nuclear power generation to be totally neglected so that by the time it was realised that it is practically carbon-free it was too late. This country is already at the limit of electricity capacity, yet we are told that in the future we will all have electric cars, but not how we will charge them. The only logical reaction to the wisdom of our politicians is to buy a generator or go off grid completely. There is some salvation in the shape of energy saving technologies such as LEDs and photovoltaics.

Another good example of technology is the helicopter. The same technology that can deliver an accident victim to a hospital can also deliver unimaginable destruction. Again the choice is ours.

We should not be surprised that digital technology has the same characteristics, that it can be used for good or for bad. Once it was exotic and expensive…

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