"Is Technology Actually Making Things Better?" is a debate between John K. Davis and Jason Crawford hosted by the website Pairagraph. Debates on Pairagraph are organized as four-part dialogues between two public intellectuals: one person opens, the other responds, and then they respond to each other again. I summarize the debate below, and I will update this post as soon as the fourth part of the debate has been released.

Genesis (Davis): Technology is making us more powerful but not more wise. In order to overcome the problems new tech is creating, we need to pursue the common good instead of selfish and short-term gains.

Response (Crawford): The risks posed by new technologies are real and serious. However, tech has been mostly positive for humanity, particularly because some technologies can mitigate the problems created by other technologies.

Penultimate (Davis): Yes, technology has likely been a net positive for humanity, but that doesn't mean it will continue to be. Tech can solve some of the problems we have created, but the core issue is humanity's lack of wisdom – particularly "our biologically limited capacity for altruism, cooperation, and long-range prudence."

Finale (Crawford): "In the growing gap between power and wisdom, technology is increasing our power. Philosophy is failing to increase our wisdom proportionately." Shameless plug for progress studies - a synthesis of history, philosophy, and economics that aims to identify the roots of progress and how we can solve the problems created by tech without stopping progress itself.




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Part 4 of this debate - the finale by Jason Crawford - has been published.