Are the smartest people only concerned with science and technology?

by Lenny Esposito

Every year, the online magazine Edge asks 150 people who they deem the “most complex and sophisticated minds” a provocative question and publish their results.  This year, that question was “What *Should* We be Worried About?” While each person submitted a short essay containing their answer, you can see a pretty fair synopsis of the results at the Motherboard site. The article is telling in many ways.

One of the most immediately noticeable things in the collection is simply how many of the respondents focus on science and technology as points of worry.  Of the 150 answers, half dealt with these topics.  They either saw science as the ultimate savior of mankind that is

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somehow being stifled, science leading us into monstrous or disastrous consequences, or our increasing dependence on technology and the Internet as our ultimate undoing.  Compare that with only three answers dealing with economic issues, two on governments or political issues, and twenty-three who worried in some way about our cultural shortcomings or homogenization.  (There were even eight who said we worry too much about being worried!)

Of course, when one looks at who Edge considers the smartest people in the world, they tend to bias their results. There are no people listed whose primary focus is in ethics and there are just a few professional philosophers—thus inadvertently underscoring Anton Zelinger’s worry that “we are more and more losing the formal and informal bridges between different intellectual, mental and humanistic approaches to seeing the world.” Of course no theologians were invited to the party…


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