The luxury liner Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in A.D. 1912 from England to America. Before it embarked, the ship’s captain said, “I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”
The captain was convinced that “modern shipbuilding” technology had advanced to a point where “modern” ships were unsinkable.
The man responsible for building the Titanic reportedly declared, “God, Himself, could not sink the Titanic.” That report is probably false. Nevertheless, the sentiment expressed and subsequent sinking of the Titanic perfectly illustrates mankind’s tendency to arrogant overconfidence in our technology. Whenever we think we’re “so smart” that nothing can possibly go wrong, we’ve embraced a “Titanic Technology” that’s more akin to magic and superstition than science.
“Titanic Technology” embraces a mix of science and human arrogance. When the arrogance outweighs the science, unsinkable ships sink and thousands, maybe millions, die.