Heisenberg on technology as an out-of-control biological process

by Sebastian Benthall

In Langdon Winner’s Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought, (1977) there is this quote from Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy (1958):

“The enormous success of this combination of natural and technical science led to a strong preponderance of those nations or states or communities in which this kind of activity flourished, and as a natural consequence this activity had to be taken up even by those nations which by tradition would not have been inclined toward natural and technical sciences. The modern means of communication and of traffic finally completed this process of expansion of technical civilization. Undoubtedly the process has fundamentally changed the conditions of life on earth; and whether one approves of it or not, whether one calls it progress or danger, one must realize that it has gone far beyond any control through human forces. One may rather consider it as a biological process on the largest scale whereby structures active in the human organism encroach on larger parts of matter and transform it into a state suited for the increasing human population.”