Technology and accidents are inseparable siblings. Because there is no such thing as safe technology. This is true for the coach, the bicycle, the railway, the plane, electricity, nuclear energy, and gene technology and oil production.
Even “100% safe” technologies, such as cable cars, sometimes have accidents. Sometimes a heater blower causes a cable car to catch fire, sometimes the wing of a fighter jet cuts through the cables of a passenger tram. More often than not, human failure is the reason for accidents, for instance with the absolutely safe magnetic railway.
We try to make technologies more and more dependable. And to reduce human failure. We are a success in this respect, even if there are occasional drawbacks. But a hundred per cent safety is just not possible.
We manage to reduce the risk. But the technology gets more and more powerful. And the more powerful the technology, the more significant its effect and, in case of accident, the possible damage. Incidentally, the world’s biggest machine is the CERN particle accelerator. I just hope nothing bad will happen there.
By the way, one technology is said to be safe due to its very system: the nuclear fusion. Personally, I do not believe it. Because if it were true, nuclear fusion would never work.
We accept the risk of a possible accident. Balancing the value of a technology’s usefulness with the potential risk, we arrive at a positive conclusion. Perhaps the balancing would result in a different conclusion if we took into consideration what damage is done to the environment, the collateral damage, systemic disadvantages and the effect on our psychic and physical well-being?
We tend to avoid an ethical balance of goods based on an ethically responsible value system. It is a favoured tactical argument to point out the inherent necessity (“there is no other way”) without much thought. Or else a decision is said to have “no alternative” (which is the comparative form of inherent necessity).
There is also war, the father of all things and his small brother, terror. Both do not make sense, but have an end. The end is total control. Both make use of (destructive) technology. War and terror destroy all dreams of a technology that might be controllable.
So, please, let us be careful where we tread!
(Translated by EG)