MLB Opening Day WWDC 2023 Dates Meta Quest Pro Hands-On Amazon Pharmacy Coupons iOS 16.4 Trick for Better Sound Narcan Nasal Spray 7 Foods for Better Sleep VR Is Revolutionizing Therapy
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Matt Damon says tech can't solve everything

Technically Incorrect: The "Martian" star, giving the graduation speech at MIT, warns that science has its limitations.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Matt Damon worries that science doesn't have all the answers.

Twentieth Century Fox

In Silicon Valley, some people believe they can solve every problem.

Disease, death, politics -- these are all just issues waiting to be puzzled out with ones and zeros.

Such people can make machines that drive themselves, and implant humans with nanobots so they can tell better jokes to their bosses.

One scientific hero, though, wants the newest geniuses to pause and consider.

Matt Damon, star of "The Martian" and other fine movies, believes science has its limits.

Giving the graduation speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, he said, "The truth is, we can't science the shit out of every problem."

I feel sharp intakes of breath from big brains who differ.

However, Damon told the budding geniuses: "If anybody has a right to think we can pretty much tech support the world's problems into submission, it's you. Think of the innovations that got their start at MIT or by MIT alums: the World Wide Web. Nuclear fission. Condensed soup."

You might think, then, that if scientists can condense soup, they can condense any other issue.

Not in Damon's view. "There is not always a freaking app for that," he said.

He used the world's water shortage as an example. It's not enough to believe you can pop a pill into dirty water to make it safe.

Instead, he said, innovation in public policy and financial models is just as important in order to solve what some believe is the world's biggest problem.

Naturally Damon, who dropped out of Harvard to become an actor, couldn't resist musing on the issues of the day.

Simulation Theory, for example.

This week, Elon Musk insisted that it's almost certain humans are mere characters in some aliens' video game. The idea fascinates Damon.

"What if this -- all of this -- is a simulation?" he asked. "I mean, it's a crazy idea, but what if it is? And if there are multiple simulations, how come we're in the one where Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee?"

Who knows if we're being punished or inspired? What's clear is that no scientist saw this political situation coming.

No scientist can tell us where it's going, either.