I'm interested whether technological advancement can ever be morally good, and under what circumstances.
It's a platitude to say that technology has both positive and negative effects (on the one hand, creature comforts, better health, cheaper goods and services; on the other hand, pollution, weapons, cultural homogenization, etc.) But, given the psychological evidence for "hedonic adaptation" (people quickly return to the same baseline level of happiness no matter what happens to them) and economic evidence such as the "Easterlin paradox" (average reported happiness of a country's citizens does not increase with average income), it seems unlikely that the supposedly positive effects of technology are genuinely good--especially those related to material prosperity. The supposedly negative effects may not be so bad either, but it's definitely not obvious that the good outweighs the bad, as people generally assume.
Even if technology is neutral overall rather than bad, we probably shouldn't accept any degree of environmental destruction for its sake (though we currently accept some), nor should governments ever encourage technological advancement at the expense of other goals (which they do). And it would be morally wrong for a person to choose a job that advances technology over one that serves some better goal.
There are a few specific technological advancements that seem completely good, like the invention of drugs to treat depression (since these make people unquestionably happier). But all technologies, and especially pure scientific discoveries, have unforeseeable consequences, so what seems good now may turn monstrous in the future. (For example, G.H. Hardy ironically declared that number theory and relativity would never have any military applications, a few years before the atomic bomb.)
As a computer programmer, I'd like to think that I'm not doing something morally wrong by aiding the advance of technology. Indeed, most people who work in technology and science take it as obvious that all technological advancement is good. But the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. So, are there any defensible arguments that technological progress is actually morally good, especially ones that take into account the considerations above?
I realize this is a big question, so I'd also appreciate any recommendations for further reading on this topic.
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