New technology makes new forms of waging peace possible. New technology in the form of mass-printed pamphlets, books, and newspapers made the early women’s rights movement possible. New technology in the form of the telegraph and international newspapers made Gandhi’s anti-colonial movement possible.
In the 1950s, new technology in the form of television made the civil rights movement possible. The civil rights movement could not have achieved the victories it did in the amount of time it did without the power of television. In the twenty-first century, new technology in the form of the Internet and social media made the Arab Spring possible.
The Internet has also democratized information, strengthening grassroots causes and allowing people to educate themselves. And the Internet has changed my views toward humanity’s treatment of animals by empowering me to watch Internet videos showing animals being treated horrifically.
Virtual reality for a mass consumer market will arrive soon, and most people have no idea what is coming. When we look at history we think of everything before electricity, and everything after electricity. We think of everything before television, and everything after television. We think of everything before the Internet, and everything after the Internet. When people in the future look at history, they will see everything before virtual reality, and everything after virtual reality. I have tried the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, and words cannot describe what it is like. You feel like you are physically somewhere else. Virtual reality is mind-blowing, and arguably one of the most powerful technologies humanity has ever created. It is a godlike power, the power to create worlds, and then to put our bodies in those worlds, to lose ourselves in those worlds.
New technology makes new forms of waging peace possible, and virtual reality offers this same potential. But all human inventions also have a dark side. A hammer can be used to build a house, or to murder. Writing can be used to spread love and truth, or hatred and lies. Electricity can be used to provide heat in winter, or to torture someone. An airplane can deliver food, or drop bombs. We can use tools to educate and protect us, or enslave and destroy us. People already get addicted to violent video games and Internet porn. Just wait until they play violent video games and watch porn while wearing a virtual reality headset.
Technology has given humanity many gifts. But technology’s greatest gift to humanity is that it will force us to evolve ethically or we will go extinct. If we do not develop the ethics to handle our technology responsibly, we will destroy ourselves and our fragile biosphere, and we will be too lulled to sleep by our technology to stop the forces of injustice from destroying our world.