Pointing at the Downsides of Technology

I know someone who has received a donated organ. In fact, that person I know that received a donated organ received that organ from a person who died in a car accident.

I’m glad they are alive. In a sense I am glad that other person died, but not in any direct way.

We don’t hunt for people to donate kidneys and kill them to ensure the survival of others.

This article in Popular Mechanics bemoans the oncoming autonomous vehicle technology for the fact that it will reduce the number of traffic fatalities – potentially by half (or more) and that this source of 20% of organs for transplant will be vastly reduced.

This is similar to moaning about loss of jobs in the garment industry because of advances in automation. The jobs that are going to be removed are the worst jobs out there – and the people working them are working in the most horrible conditions. The fact that automation is going to remove these jobs from existence is not something to lament.

Instead of keeping pace with current demand for donor organs the focus should be on new paths to organ function replacement. There are lots of great articles about the potential of using stem cells to promote healthy organ function. Lots of articles about using stem cells or other cells to 3D print functioning organs.

Luddite attitudes are creeping in to bastions of science – such as Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Scientific American. It seems odd that they are focusing on the very aspects of social and technology that will greatly improve human life.

Sadly, if autonomous cars reduce fatalities earlier than prime time for alternate organ replacement technologies – people will die. It will be fewer people; however, than the number of people killed every year in automobile accidents.

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