Insights from the Field: Podcast explores interplay of technology, values, and society

December 11, 2023

Insights from the field: Podcast explores interplay of technology, values, and society

Technologist Matt Weinberg shares insights on the implications of the principle of the harmony of science and religion for technological progress.

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BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE — How do we ensure that our values, our aspirations, and our needs are integrated into the design, development, and use of technology?

This was among the questions explored by Matt Weinberg, a technologist from the United States, in this podcast episode recorded during a recent gathering at the Bahá’í World Centre on the development of communities.

Mr. Weinberg shares ideas from his article Technology, Values, and the Shaping of Social Reality, published on the Bahá’í World website.

“The overall vision of technology development cannot come from technology itself,” says Mr. Weinberg. “Technology is an expression of human capability. It magnifies human intent, it amplifies our capacity, augments our capabilities, but it does not... have the necessary inherent characteristics or agency that we have,” he says.

This view calls for an expanded notion of rationality, one that Mr. Weinberg says should be informed by both reason and spiritual insight. “In the Bahá’í Faith,” he says, “this idea is expressed most directly as the principle of the harmony between scientific and religious knowledge.”

This principle, he says, emphasizes that when technology is guided by moral discernment and spiritual values, it can contribute significantly to societal wellbeing and the advancement of civilization.

“The knowledge that we need in advancing is of multiple types,” he continues, “We need not only methodologies and theories and techniques and models, but we also need values… and insight that flows from an understanding that we are, in fact, spiritual beings; that we have a purpose in contributing to building ways of living that are just and peaceful.”