IT is creating amoral automatons

I have been engaged in a research endeavor for almost three decades now. It involves the development of earth-friendly technology. I completed my research about 10 years ago and have since been trying to share my conclusions and suggestions with the civilization that I was born into and to which my research is relevant. I am finding effective bigotry at the points in our civilization where my ideas merit consideration. That is, the institutions in our culture that would benefit from my ideas are refusing to consider them.
I understand now that I went back to college to gain “credibility” in our uppity culture and to satisfy my own questions about my “worth” compared to that of other members of our civilization, even though I had been an avid student on my own. Eventually, I graduated with a master’s degree in engineering from the University’s Institute of Technology, the school that houses the departments of math, physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering and more. I got my degree in electrical engineering, the relatively new, mathematically “rigorous” area designed in the 19th century by greats like Cavendish, Maxwell and Faraday, henceforth degraded by everyone.
Since graduating from college, I have gone my own way yet again and have pursued the quest to bring forth knowledge to the youth of today that is worthwhile for our collective future here on Earth.
The Institute of Technology is a place that trains young students to be “civilized” technologists in our Earth-destroying technocratic civilization. It severely trains them to focus on what they are doing, not why they are doing it. And in IT, the “what” of something can be extremely fascinating. There are mathematical theorems to prove, metals to understand, seductive physical phenomena to groove on and so on. They never get to the “why” of their work, however. The “why” of technology is so consistently understated in IT that I wonder sometimes if there is a school conspiracy that enforces a policy of not asking “Why?”
Somewhere, some proud engineer might have said engineering is to help mankind. I think I read somewhere in my private study of stuff. I thought that was fine. I could see being an engineer if I were going to be helping mankind. Should there be engineers that don’t help mankind? I harken back to the grainy black-and-white footage of the documentaries on Nazi Germany. There were occasional interviews with engineers that developed the “death camps” used to exterminate unfortunate masses. It appeared that one such engineer was very proud of his work and still maintained, years after the war, that he did a fine job in helping to develop such a “technology,” regardless of its ultimate use.
That was then. How about these days? I worked as a student aide at Honeywell, Inc. when I was a graduate student in IT. I landed this job at Honeywell’s “prestigious” Systems and Research Center located here in the Twin Cities. I was there for about five years until I resigned to go on extended sabbatical. I met and worked for the engineers there. I will mention the young woman first, as she was the cutest.
She and I went out for coffee late one night after work. We went to the doughnut shop across the street from the plant. I suspect that she was searching for a reason why, because one day she came in and told me how great the Tom Clancy book, “Hunt for Red October,” was and that it gave us all a reason to work on “sophisticated” defense image processing technology, which we were doing then at Honeywell. That night, she told me that I should “just do something,” and not think about why. I think it bothered her that I questioned things and didn’t seem to commit myself to anything. After all, I had remained a student aide long after my manager had suggested “bringing me in” to the company. I didn’t want to do anything that my heart wasn’t happy with. I had done that before, and I didn’t like it. Finally, I quit Honeywell before I, too, became a heartless engineer.
As an undergraduate, I dropped out of IT because I was not satisfied just knowing about the technological world — such as how a transistor works — but wanted to know how to live a meaningful life.
I eventually determined that IT is largely ignoring the work that is most helpful to mankind at this time in human history. As I see it now, they are mainly ignorant cowards, supported by our technocratic society to do things that continue its heedless operation and expansion, without regard for the authentic engineering challenges that face the human race.
Another engineer I met at Honeywell was a very nice guy. He was open-minded, bright, well-mannered and successful in our earth-destroying civilization. Besides that, he was an excellent conversationalist. He seemed to be aware of all this, too, as he was quite introspective and seemed to be a student of the self. Anyway — and he probably carefully considered this, too — he told me he would “work on any project that he was given, regardless of its outcome.” I think his main criteria for accepting a project was that it was somehow intellectually stimulating. Probably, he would want to pad his bank account, too, but I suspect that as long as he wasn’t destitute, his first concern would be a project’s factor of fascination.
I asked him if he would work on “death camps.” He said: “Sure, if they needed them and the job was something interesting to me.” Well, that did it. I knew I had Honeywell down to the bottom. It was a spiritually corrupt organization. Period. It let a guy like him get by with his way.
Making use of my academic freedom, my engineering career has evolved into the quest for development of earth-friendly technology and how to get the future engineers of the world to apply themselves in that direction. This engineering problem had been in the back of my mind since I was 18 years old, when I was clued-in to the plight of the earth by a professional ecologist. In my spare time, I studied this and other things. Eventually, I concluded that IT has a severe spiritual problem.
It is taking in the brightest, wide-eyed, young kids fresh out of high school and efficiently turning them into heartless, amoral automatons to fill grueling niches in the heedless, rampant operation and expansion of our earth-destroying technocratic civilization. More than likely, the staff of IT does not want to confess this, even if they are aware of it.
As far as academic freedom goes, I think students should be free in college to study subjects that are responsibly related to helping the world and get credit for it, just like the hippies said in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, the students probably don’t have a clue as to how to help the world or even that it needs their help.
Steven D. Axelson is an Institute of Technology alumnus. Send comments to [email protected]