A few months ago, I got into an argument with a friend of mine about Google’s new driverless car. I’m much less optimistic about technology than he is, and I couldn’t share his enthusiasm about this new technological marvel. All I could think of was the tens of thousands of professional drivers—taxis and buses and delivery vehicles—who would be put out of work when and if the Google car replaced outmoded cars that needed drivers.
And he, in turn, couldn’t understood why I would want to curtail the freedom of the people designing and manufacturing these cars. Technology, he argued, has made our lives much better, and in fact we live, he said, in the safest and best time that humanity has ever known. I disagreed, and so we came to a standstill—he the techno-optimist, I the apocalyptic doomsdayer.
I bring up this story because when I later read Christina Bieber Lake’s latest book, Prophets of the Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, and the Ethics of Personhood, I found myself wishing that she’d been with me during that argument. Much of what I was trying to say about why our age is not the greatest in the history of the world and why I’m nervous about ceding our future to the leaders of the tech industry are said with much more eloquence and insight in this book.
Unfortunately, I can’t go back in time to argue more effectively—not even Google has invented a time machine yet. But fortunately, Christina Bieber Lake, who is the Clyde S. Kilby professor of English at Wheaton College, is our guest today on Christian Humanist Profiles.