I guess I’m in the camp (well, it’s probably a pretty small camp, probably just me and my solitary wienie on a stick) that defines technology as the craft of solving problems. We solve problems because the alternative, to not solve problems, just seems silly. If you have to walk a long way to get water you either figure out a way to bring the water to you or you don’t. If you’re getting a sunburn on your head you either figure out a way to make a hat or you don’t. While it is true that we have arrived at an unprecedented place in history where our ability to solve problems is actually creating new problems to solve, I don’t hear anyone wanting to go back to the days when we had to walk five miles to get a drink or even to the days when open sewers were causing cholera epidemics.
Utopian vs. dystopian thought calls upon an assumption that I don’t think most of us are even aware we’re making: the idea that history will come to an end. Either technology will solve all our problems and things will just stay that way forever (utopian) or it will overwhelm our ability to respond to it and destroy the world (dystopian). While both ideas are fun (motorcycle-riding mutants vs. time machines and orgasmatrons) they’re both no more than melodramatic thought experiments.
My camp says technology is not going to go away because we enjoy solving problems and it’s not going to overwhelm us because we enjoy solving problems. Almost as much as we enjoy complaining about them! As long as we’re having fun that’s all I care about.