It’s likely Commoner’s thinking impacted speculative fiction writers, leading to scribes across the globe crafting dystopian futures of rampant environmental degradation. I can’t say that his ideas consciously influenced LIEGE-KILLER and the Paratwa Saga, but they’re certainly present as underlying themes in the books.
In the Saga, our descendants live in gigantic space colonies orbiting an Earth rendered unlivable by environmental and other catastrophes. For the betterment of humanity, a powerful organization called E-Tech controls and severely limits the pace of technological development.
E-Tech represents an extreme solution to runaway technology. However, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the real world of today represents an opposite extreme, where in large part runaway technology is encouraged.
That encouragement is focused through the conjoined economic engines of profit/progress.
For example, Apple markets a new product such as the iPhone 5 that, to whatever degree, represents a technological advance (progress). The company sells oodles of them (profit) and pumps some of the money into R&D to develop, presumably, the iPhone 6 (progress). The cycle is endless and, most would argue, a good thing.
Now, I’m no Luddite. I enjoy living within our enriched technological ecosphere. In general, I support the capitalist superstructure that makes it possible.
Still, there’s that pesky dark side. Beyond the easily identifiable perils of runaway technology lurks an overriding concept: The betterment of humanity is not the goal of the profit/progress cycle. It’s merely a side effect.
Is there a wiser path for the world? Would an organization along the lines of E-Tech ultimately allow the cauldron of thoughts and feelings we call humanity to blossom in ways other than through pure technological advancement?
I don’t pretend to have the answers. But I’ll keep on speculating.