As a concerned, private citizen, entitled to his own opinions, I strongly believe that we as a species are implementing new technologies entirely too aggressively.
I believe all new technologies should be tested in very small scale, very long term (75-100 year), very well-contained experiments. Only after all possible side effects are investigated should the technologies be implemented in the society at large, whether they be pharmacological, genetic, or electromagnetic in nature.
In certain cases, where the rewards are demonstrably great, we may engage in very small scale experiments without the other conditions, when the key players involved are informed of the risks. For example, the Apollo mission did not meet the “very long term” and “well-contained” standards. However, the benefits obtained by extending humankind’s reach beyond its home planet were enormous. And most everyone knew the risks they were taking.
Contrast this to the evolution of the cell phone. Early versions existed, primarily in military labs, in the 1950s. The year regarded as marking the first mobile, handheld phone is 1973. In November, 2007, it is estimated that 3.3 billion cell phone subscriptions existed (including people with multiple subscriptions). In 2006, it was estimated that 80% of the world was covered by cell phone signals.
In a mere 34 years, we went from zero cell phones in the world to 3.3 billion. In 33 years we went from 0% planetary coverage to 80% coverage. Hardly proceeding with caution.
No matter how many safety studies have been done (and one article indicates extensive research did not begin until the late 1990s), we simply do not know enough about this technology and its effects on us and the environment to justify such a ferociously fast and deep implementation.
Similar statistics could be unearthed, I suspect, pertaining to genetically modified food seeds, various pharmacological drugs, assorted nanotechnologies, and other advances which “tamper with the garden directly in front of God’s temple” (more on this phrase later).
Very small scale, very long term, very well-contained experiments (with exceptions as noted). The middle way.