Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it.— Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi 25
We have long known about the dangers of unbridled scientific advancement. Sadly, in recent times, we have experienced evil done in the name of science; of course, evils such as eugenics or embryonic stem cell research have been done with the claim that the ends justify the means. But scientific research without any appeal beyond itself will not be able to tell you why such means are wrong. Such concern should not prevent us from scientific pursuits. It tells us that we should practice it in wisdom and allow its methodologies and goals to be critiqued by those whose expertise are in disciplines which are logically prior to the empirical sciences. Knowledge of facts for the sake of knowledge without a proper interpretative scheme is useless; research without restrictions tends to morally questionable activities, and the knowledge gained from such research does not justify the means.
This morning I read a rather weird, and yet if one contemplates it, possibly horrifying scientific advance. It is of a new kind of tattoo. Instead of being inked in by needles, it will be an electronic tattoo display under your skin. It will be powered by your blood. The tattoo will not be static, like typical tattoos. One who has it will have turned their skin into a surface for a kind of video output similar to a LCD screen. Just think, you can watch television through your skin! If you want, you can become a walking billboard, changing the advertisement when you get a new, better offer. Money for nothing! Except, of course, the loss of one’s human dignity.
I fear we will not be able to stop a merger between man and machine in the future; and it seems the rise of such cybermen is within our foreseeable future. Before that happens we need to figure out now what that will mean. Will we lose our humanity? Is that even possible? If so, how? If not, then what does it say about humanity that someone can remain human if they transform their body into something which is mostly (or perhaps completely) metallic?