Let's take the most dire problem facing humankind: Climate change has so many negative implications it would take all day to list them. Meanwhile, there's the possibility of a sudden acceleration of a problem caused by the melting of Arctic ice, which exposes more ocean water to warming, which causes more melting, which causes more...well, you get the picture.
What if we suddenly needed to put the brakes on this process even more than we do now? One possibility is to pump particles of sulfur dioxide, or similar reflective chemicals, into the stratosphere. Of course, reflecting sunlight away from the planet could cause some other series of interlinked and very scary events.
How do we decide whether a technological fix is a good one, especially when the problem is urgent?
- Wendell Wallach is the Chair of Technology & Ethics at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics
- James Hughes is the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies at Trinity College
- Kate Darling is a researcher at MIT Media Lab