For me, the present horror of South Carolina is that we still live in a country where black people are slaughtered because of the color of their skin.
For me, the future horror of South Carolina is that the tools of hatred will only become more effective. Instead of a gun, a homicidal and racist 21-year-old may have access to a nuclear weapon, synthetic virus, or some other yet to be invented technology.
Imagine if Dylann Roof had the means to exterminate a nation.
In some sense, we are in a race between the preventative tools of culture, medical science, and surveillance – and the massive damage that can be ushered in by advanced technology.
A more benevolent culture may reduce the presence of subcultures of hate. There is some evidence that the world is becoming more tolerant; a continuation of this trend would bode well for us all.
Better medical science may help us identify and cure (or isolate) those with a propensity for mass murder.
Better surveillance may help us track and suppress weapons of mass destruction, as well as those who use them.
The tensions here are clear: trust, love, liberty, and safety will be at odds with each other.
There is a theory that a society’s values are ultimately shaped based on the predominant technologies of the era. In human history, we’ve had hunter gatherer values, farmer values, and industrial revolution values.
What scares me about the future is that our values may not adapt fast enough to ensure our survival in a new technological era.
What happened in South Carolina is a horrific reminder of what happens when a society’s values, science, and surveillance lose to a society’s darkness.
June 17th, 2015 was a dark day.