By Richard Fraser,
These days, most of us can sit on the couch and watch our ultra-thin TVs, spot and actor whose previous works you can’t quite remember the names of, then simply pick up our phones and look it up.
The rapid progression of technology has been picking up pace seemingly each day for the last few decades, but I wonder how beneficial and how progressive it really is when we compare the good with the bad?
When we think of the convenience modern technology has introduced into our daily lives – it’s an easy assumption to make that it’s making our lives better; forgot your wallet?
Scan your phone to pay for something thanks to NFC technology. Fridge is leaking and making funny noises? But it online and wait for delivery. Digital subtitles on TV programmes, games consoles to keep you entertained etc. the list goes on.
Aside from the obvious arguments about the downsides of these things – ease of accruing debt, addiction to gaming and so on – on the whole, I like that we have the ability to do these things. However, throughout modern history, there are 02 major problems that have plagued this rapid advance in technological sophistication.
Firstly; nothing has spurred on this development like conflict. The world wars were arguably the 02 times when technology research was pushed to its limits, with prototypes of all manner of things from planes to guns to chemical warfare agents. The fate of our nations might have been decided by who had the most efficient, effective means of eradicating fellow human beings.
“Now this was understandable, because if you’re already in that situation and there’s no getting out, well that’s what needs to be done. It may not necessarily be inherently bad when you can argue that it was what needed to be done, but more on that a little later.”
The second point, is that the vast majority of this push into tomorrow’s world is done purely for profit. We all live in a world that revolves around money (the evils of which are best left for an entirely separate article), and so the major global corporations are the ones who have the cash to pour into the research and development. People buy the fancy new things and it stimulates the economy, yes. But when the development is for profit, companies start to look for ways in which to replace human workers with machines.
Again, it’s simple economics and just a necessary evil if you will, given the nature of the monetary system. However, how far can we push this? Jobs are being lost in ever greater numbers as a result of machines becoming sophisticated enough to do what a human was doing; most likely with more precision and less errors, too. Take for example the infuriating self-checkouts; aside from occasionally rejecting an old, tattered Scottish banknote in my wallet, they do work well, and on balance, probably do make my shopping experience that little bit easier.
Still, how many jobs have been lost in supermarkets because of these things?
How many jobs lost in the factories they came from as a result of greater automation?
It’s a pretty worrying trend when I think about it.
These 02 point are just the main ones that stick out in my mind; I’ve no doubt there are more negatives and I’m sure plenty positive counters to my opinion too, but the reason I talk so negatively about it is because I can’t help but wonder how much better the world would be if our efforts towards improving our tech was spent researching things that would make people’s lives better. Not more convenient necessarily, but better! Cures for diseases, artificial limbs, transplants, cars which don’t damage the Ozone layer, easily made homes for 3rd world countries etc. the list goes on. There are a whole host of things that could have been significantly improved far beyond today’s ‘cutting-edge’, had we just had our eyes on the betterment of planet Earth as opposed to the bank balance of corporations.
It’s by no means the most in-depth study of the ramifications of the modern age, but I think that there’s enough common sense still left to tell us that ultimately it’s not the relentless progression of technology that’s the problem, it’s just our reasons behind it.