Why do you think science is going through a particularly critical time right now?
The different sciences are used to have periodic crises in their models, but now, as a faithful reflection of what is happening in our societies, the accumulated problems have reached an extreme point.
There is a technological war, but whoever thinks it is only technological has already lost it. Now China seems to have taken the lead over the United States in the fight for control of communication channels, and many would celebrate it were it not for the fact that this 5G is only intensifying what already was a huge wave overflow.
Not only do we oppose the indiscriminate deployment of technologies but, in a now distant article, we even suggested another line of biophysical research to evaluate the impact of electromagnetic radiation on humans and other living beings . It is clear that the big corporations promoting this deployment are only concerned about market shares, but who says that in a few years they will not be sued for damages?
It is being said that this year 2020 could mark the beginning of the Asian Century, or if you prefer, the Chinese Century; though we will not find Chinese analysts among those who claim such things. The authors who insist on this reading of the facts point, for example, to China’s clear leadership in such an strategic sector as 5G, or the imminent arrival of the digital yuan, which could cause the collapse of the dollar hegemony sooner or later. No doubt, China plays for real.
Yet this need for China to do things independently and in its own way is too often interpreted as an aggressive or expansionist policy in the West, without wanting to see that it is the West itself that has created the current rules where the winner takes it all. In the coming years we will not fail to see this rivalry for technological supremacy increasing, with the usual war of accusations and disqualifications led almost exclusively by one side.
But here I want to touch on a much broader subject than that of technological competition that is not receiving the slightest attention. I am referring to the relationship between science and technology to form a whole, what we now call Technoscience. Technoscience is the reciprocal action or continuity existing between the utilitarian applications and the development of the scientific method, between practice and theory, between power and knowledge. Power and knowledge limit each other, but incredibly, modern studies on technoscience, still know nothing about how and on what depends that knowledge and power are self-limiting —in a totally involuntary, spontaneous way.
The paths in the science-technology continuum may be innumerable but they all presuppose a potential reciprocity between knowledge and application —thus between knowledge and power. And yet we still have no idea of what kind of circle knowledge and power draws on us.
Newton’s celestial mechanics seemed initially far removed from worldly affairs but the unwarranted generalization of his principles to things far removed from human artifacts had the effect of turning the world into a wheelless rolling machine.
Society has taken shape as it becomes isolated from Nature but cannot subsist without a permanent commerce with her which in turn depends more and more on our knowledge of it. Any dominance relationship over Nature is reproduced within society, between some parts that exercise control and others parts subject to this control.