Tech Versus Humanity — The Limits of Techno-Optimism

Alex Turner
8 min readJan 23, 2022

In my last post, I wrote about the problem I have with techno-optimism, and in doing so I opened an entire can of worms. A can of very heated worms.

The thing about techno-optimism is that it’s nice. It feels good to believe that technology will save us. It’s a relief. It’s a much needed tonic amid catastrophic current events, endless doom-scrolling, and the IPCC putting us (humanity) on Code Red.

But techno-optimism is a whitewash. (Or would it be a greenwash, when we’re talking about the environment?)

Techno-optimism is a neat way to avoid this sneaky little issue that as human beings we find it oh-so-hard to take responsibility for our own actions. Techno-optimism sweeps all that under the carpet and says, “Don’t worry guys, I’ve got this.”

Well, against better advice probably, I decided to look under the carpet. This post is a follow up to my first Techno-Optimism piece in which I trawl through the issues a little deeper (the ones we swept under the carpet) and I introduce my thoughts on where we’re heading, presented as four future scenarios — a matrix of possible scenarios and outcomes depending on how we get on in the epic Tech vs Humanity Battle.

TL/DR: in the battle of tech vs humanity, if one thing is certain, it’s that technology don’t got this.

But I didn’t come here to bash tech. I came to highlight what we need to do to leverage it.

Why We Should Be Optimistic About Tech

To reiterate, there is incredible technology out there.

I became a tech-optimist when working in research, looking at emerging technologies in sustainable development — there is some undeniably inspiring and groundbreaking work being done in tech.

Like using nanosatellites to track ghost ships — technology that could easily end slave labour or human trafficking, if we wanted it to.

Like using silicon-based nano fertilizers and agri-tech to improve both plant resilience and soil health to fix our topsoils that we’re at risk of losing irrevocably in the next 50 years.

As I leaned into technology and forecasting, I began to relax.

Alex Turner

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care