Technology continues its march toward medical cures, transportation wonders and engineering marvels. One of the most enduring objectives of technology is to free our time; and by doing so promote human flourishing. When the steam engine could produce more work than the manual, families spent more time around the diner table connecting and caring. Instead of travel dependent on animals alone, humans sped up and out on locomotives beyond their insular villages, making novel comparisons– leading to profound discoveries. Authors wrote stories about romantic tales on the high seas or of crossings over white frosted peaks. They could see the earth first hand through motive power, had cures to once untreatable diseases, and warmed themselves with hot showers. When we had more time, utopian art flourished and was regarded as having profound psychological importance for the future. The common vernacular was charged with possibility; once impossible notions became steady realities and we wrought vertical and horizontal dreams. Adventure to the far corners of the world was heroic, poetic, and daring.

Slowly but surely, we’ve lost that precious time that technology was meant to free up, and the ethos it was meant to engender. Numerous distractive technologies are rapidly replacing our time, and more, our inherent noble aims. Comfort, safety, and convenience are everywhere the goal, and have replaced courage, compassion, and wisdom. Surely there’s a keen balance, but we’ve overshot it, and have all but forgotten, even the attempt at a gallant life.

We fall but we always get back up– through all the thousands of years of human evolution, in our ongoing stretch for the healthier, higher, and righteous, I feign to consider that anything near to the culmination of our common and shared efforts would be to addictively stare into a computer screen; buying, tweeting, liking, chirping, yelping. Can the screen propel us? Yes. But is the screen or any digital reflection, much like those in Plato’s Cave, nearer to the apex of our common human journey? Humans at their core are benevolent and aspirational; inspiring fellow citizens to a return to what makes us universally unique and inherently good is not completely outdated, outsourced, and out modeled– rather it is central to providing lasting and honest solutions for the challenges that lie ahead. Can these obstacles be met through increasing dehumanizing technologies absent of an uplifting, beautiful, vision?

We used technology in the past with the goal of equalizing and expanding a just and radiant world, by improving our physical limitations. Let’s wholeheartedly embrace technology for her miracles; for medicine, newer and lighter metals, longer bridges, and faster flights. We are, however, intelligent, volitional, and specifically– our full consciousness gives us immense powers. Let’s not limit these faculties by too frequently slouching over the glaring illusions of a net, and myopically accepting the distorted tricks it plays with our minds. The recycling of thought through algorithms is no match for the genesis of new thought through the triumph of the imagination.

Science is the engine but the Humanities is the rudder of human Progress, and this year my vote is for an honest reclaiming and prioritizing of our time, our dignity, and our destination.

-Nick Fabrikant