Modern technology, while bringing human beings countless conveniences, also leads to many ethical controversies. Controversies which generations before ours never even dreamed of. Thanks to in vitro fertilization, people are arguing whether the womb can be rented in the surrogate mother case. Thanks to the cells used for research studies, the public is discussing whether the family of Henrietta Lacks should be paid for the use of their mother’s cells. These “unbelievable” ethical problems both shock and overwhelm me, so much so, that I begin to think back to the ancient world, a world where such dilemmas did not exist. What was life like back then? Examining historical traditions and ethical codes can shed light on how modern technology is affecting our own ethical dilemmas.
Nature vs. Universe
Before the idea of colonizing Mars emerged, tribes moved freely around the world. Take, for example, the Ancient Hebrews who have a nomadic lifestyle. According to The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews written by Jeff A. Benner, the home of the nomad is the wildness. They traveled to different areas around the year to ensure they receive enough rain in the area they live. Taking their tents made of goat hair, the nomad wandered around the wildness and made a living. In their free time, men gathered to discuss the operation of the camp while women busily prepared food and repaired tents. The old were surrounded by children who wanted to hear stories.
As their life was largely depended upon the rain, they believed that their whole lives were decided by God. They saw the God in their everyday activities including eating and working. For nomads, they wanted neither the triumph of conquering the Earth and the Milky Way nor the pleasure of controlling other human beings and nature. They gained pleasure through an easy and peaceful life.
Flash-forward to today, people get pleasure through discovery. They still love their Mother Nature; in fact, they are so impressed by the magic of nature that they are curious to learn more. And now, they want to step into that mysterious world to discover and experience more about nature. Far be it for me to say which lifestyle is better – it’s only a different choice made by human beings.
Day War vs. Night War
Before the concept of “cyberwarfare”, people used hand-made weapons in wars. Take the wars in China during the Warring States (476-221 BCE) as an example. Tribe leaders wanted power and supreme control over everything, resulting in wars which involved millions of lives. When these tribes found themselves at war, people took their bronze lances and rushed to battle. Shouts, cries and orders filled the battle war. Strategic leaders confidently and carefully gave orders to the soldiers while the brave soldiers went forward without fear for the honor of their tribe. Yes, there was blood everywhere. There was death everywhere. Scars stayed on the body and deep inside their hearts. Ancient warfare brought human beings pain.
So what about “cyberwarfare”? In cyberwarfare, with the help of “intelligent hackers”, a country gains the ability to interfere in the politics of other countries directly, stealing important secret information about the economy and the army. In the age of “cyberwarfare”, nobody is safe and no country can stay out. Necessarily, a cyberwarfare is a world-wide war. If we call the ancient war “the war in the daylight” (because of the blood and the obvious pain brought along), we should call the cyberwarfare “the war in the darkness” for the dirty lies and attack hidden behind the mask of Internet. They both bring human beings pain – it’s only a different choice made by human beings.
The role of modern technology with regard to ethical issues is a complicated topic which worth further discussion. As far as I can see, we can either choose to live with or without technologies. The only thing is that before we make our final choice, we need to think about whether this is the life we want. If it is, then do it, without ever regretting it.