In a previous article concerning development and society the author had raised several issues connected with an understanding of how technology can be both a help and curse to humanity, depending how it is used. We have the capability of destroying the whole planet in a flash, but this has not helped to bring about political stability in the world.

Allama Iqbal, in his study of the West and how it had developed its strength through technology, could see that all was not well. In fact he had concluded that with the power technology had obtained by the Western civilidation that they would ultimately kill themselves with a dagger of their own making. It appears that considering humankind as a whole had led to the conclusion the idea of “rendering unto what is Caesar’s and rendering unto God what is God’s” arose out of political division created by the clerics on the one hand and the politicians on the other. At stake was power and money.

Allama Iqbal said that Islam had the solution to this split. He viewed Islam as being a religion that was secular but not secular. It derives at wholesomeness in recognising the unity of the Almighty. He described it as a “spiritual democracy”.

It will be necessary for the next generation to define the application of “istehsan” or “equity with morality” to ensure technology ultimately benefits humanity. To this end it is necessary to consider several other factors that have developed recently. Above all it is absolutely vital to accept that morality has the last laugh. An earlier justification for the 22 families was that that the black money was put back into capital expenditure. While this did happen it generated a mindset of continued feudalism which meant that monarchism, Mulla-yet and Peeri-dom kept their sway with all the negative exploitive consequences in society now around us. The author may remind readers that he claimed no originality of thought save in the definition of technology i.e. it is the know-how to solve problems all sorts in man-made systems.

Both Germany and Japan were physically destroyed in WWII but the thinking ability of their scientists and technologists remained with them. The result is that they made progress far beyond what anybody may have imagined. Korea was the late starter but look where they are today. Also look at the very few scholars who were alive in 1948 who have revived the dead language called Hebrew!

The fair use of technology depends in large measure on transparency as this ultimately leads to a truly multidisciplinary approach, which helps to discipline technology to be a good servant.

In order to develop (bring about sustainable change) it is necessary in the first instance to increase productivity within our existing resources. This approach will ultimately condition a mindset sympathetic to the better uses of technology. True, this means an educational foundation has to be laid which can provide, over time, the right type of inputs to help creative and culturally acceptable thought. While the West has their own interests at heart, which are for the betterment of their own people, it is for us to first, define the current status in detail, second, define what we wish to achieve and third mark out the various stages that we would have to traverse to achieve results. We can study successful approaches made by various countries, big and small, and adapt to achieve progress quickly with minimum travail.

India has been able to develop in isolation from their general public through several internationally renowned institutions. They are centres of excellence. It is now building around these islands and this provides strength and power to be able to condition matters internationally. We are yet far away from setting up this critical mass.

We live in an increasingly integrated world in which to sustain it, Caesar and God must come together. This separation was political and gave a freehand to those who governed. Allama Iqbal reconciled the two in “spiritual democracy”. It is for us to work out how to deal in this technological age with complications which are a resultant.

The split in knowledge expansion is dotted with new multi-discipline such as biopetrochemical engineering or biomedical engineering or orthomolecular psychiatry… in an attempt to bring together in one mind the innumerable aspects of nature. We will continue to keep chasing our tail, albeit with spiraling levels of higher abstraction. That is why coordination is not as easy now as it was in the days of the mathematician Mohammad bin Musa al Khwarzmi of the tenth century (“algorithm” draws from his name) and the many many others!

It was the founder of cybernetics Norbet Wiener of the MIT who found that the measure of disorder (entropy) in a system was directly related to how it exchanged information (energy) with its environment developing negative entropy and the greater exchange the more stable or sustainable it was. That is also why each single basic component of nerves in the human body is so unreliable but when millions of them get together it becomes very reliable. So we function predictably. This is also why, when brilliant managers, who do not delegate leave the makings of ruins after them. This is why in man made systems it is so necessary to link the intellectual (vision, mission, goals and strategies) to the organics or procedural implementation. This is why so much detail is required (250 tonnes of records for the obsolete T59 tank!) This is why government-based systems keep expanding without realising the consequential implications. While one can arrange carting donkey loads of filling to make a small “bund” but using the same logic for a large earth filled dam (Tarbela) it would lead to failure in man-made organisations. Technology is unforgiving in its demands, as Allama Iqbal put it: A nimble intellect is of great help.

More complexities will be dealt with later!