From a researcher perspective, one could argue that we are advancing, racking up a list of professional successes and achievements. We outline steps, meet production targets and satisfy quality improvement goals. We reduce costs and create increasingly sophisticated models that guide further operations. We enhance the object of our study, whatever that happens to be. But what about the human factor? With our many accomplishments, have we achieved much success? Although we have often increased wealth, have we substantially increased social well-being and connectedness? [statistics on poverty and trauma?] All too often the human perspective has been absent in our discussions, ignored intentionally or perhaps just through habitual neglect. As scientific advancements and discoveries have been celebrated, we have seemingly forgotten that the primary ‘subject’ of our endeavors is ‘humanity’. Currency values are linked to everything, but to no one specifically. Unemployment is described as a rate, without being connected to human stories. The value of our productions is linked to things; it is the merchandise itself that is of interest, not the human who will use this object. We are building businesses, not relations. Creating bombs instead of planting roses.
If one takes as a given that human life quality enhancement is a moral and ethical issue, how can we evaluate our existing relationship to science and technology? With human arrogance, we believe, without question, in the inherent value of everything we do by our hand. But the focus on material results, on the enhancement of the ‘object’, has resulted in a de-valuing of the human condition and allows us to detach from the results of our actions on others. A condition of scientific or technological ‘extremism’ is perpetuated, whereby human experience is ignored in favor of statistical achievements and technological innovation.
The de-coupling of scientific and technological ‘progress’ from its impact on the human condition has contributed to the development of a dialectical position that is at once both anti-scientific and increasingly emotionally resonant with individuals. Where people cannot look to science and technology to solve problems and improve the quality of their lives, they will look elsewhere. It is incumbent upon researchers to look beyond the numbers and search for true connections between their efforts and human well-being. The science that is human-made has to focus on the human issues: reducing diseases, decreasing disparities, and defining and implementing those parameters that contribute to true quality of life.