A Modern Utopia - science and technology

The plain message physical science has for the world at large is this, that were our political and social and moral devices only as well contrived to their ends as a linotype machine, an antiseptic operating plant, or an electric tram-car, there need now at the present moment be no appreciable toil in the world, and only the smallest fraction of the pain, the fear, and the anxiety that now makes human life so doubtful in its value. There is more than enough for everyone alive. Science stands, a too competent servant, behind her wrangling under-bred masters, holding out resources, devices, and remedies they are too stupid to use. And on its material side a modern Utopia must needs present these gifts as taken, and show a world that is really abolishing the need of labour, abolishing the last base reason for anyone's servitude or inferiority.

Background

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) was an English novelist, journalist, sociologist and historian.

Wells' Modern Utopia is in the tradition of scientific utopias pioneered by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, and explored further in science fiction writing and cinema.

Wells had an optimistic view of the benefits that science and technology could offer the human race. His utopia parallels planet earth although many of the problems that afflict humanity on earth are resolved by scientific and political advances.

A worldwide network of transport, industrial and agricultural production ensures that there is plenty for all. A cornucopia of good things has been generated by science and reason. The economy is managed by a state that encourages productivity and discourages greed.

Some of the 20th century scientific utopias after Wells have explored the darker aspects of science and technology. In both Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, technology is used to exploit and abuse mankind. In Arthur C Clarke's 2001 Hal, the space-ship computer, turns against the humans on the ship. Such nightmare visions of societies of the future are often referred to as 'dystopias'.

Taken from: A Modern Utopia
Author / Creator: Herbert George Wells
Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Date: 1905
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 012631.aa.9