Today you have more technology in your pocket than was onboard the Apollo 11 space ship that landed on the moon in 1969. Our days begin and end with it in our hands. Still, there are dangers of technology as it represents both our greatest achievements and the darker side of humanity.
The question remains. Have we become too dependent on tech?
Technology is a Tool
When a problem arises, you can count on someone to dream up some sort of technology at the heart of the solution. The wheel, the rocket engine, the computer chip. These innovations don’t just empower us, they amaze us.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
– Arthur C Clark
Technology has led to better medicines and cures to what were thought to be incurable diseases. It has spawned new sources of energy. It has made arduous, manual tasks easier in agriculture, construction and IT, particularly hospital IT where we focus our energy. It has allowed people to spend more time working with their minds instead of their hands. New technologies stand on the shoulders of the technologies that preceded them. The wheel led to the car. The computer chip led to the internet.
But technological advancement comes with a price.
The Dark Side of Technology
Technology has led to increasingly smarter computers and AI that some, like Elon Musk, believe that if not watched closely could be our undoing. Technology are increasingly becoming a distraction with young people all too often engaging with social media instead of their friends sitting right next to them. Texting and driving is becoming as big a problem as drinking and driving, with 46 states enacting laws to prevent it.
X-Rays have improved and extended the lives of untold millions. However, it took the life of its inventor, Marie Curie. Similarly, nuclear power has created an inexpensive source of energy, yet it has created geopolitical instability and took the lives of leading thinkers on the Manhattan Project, including Enrico Fermi. In each case, they didn’t fully understand its power.
Author David Wong summed up technology’s role in our lives as good as anyone when he said,
“New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It’s all about how people choose to use it.”
The Technology Catch-22
As technology provides more value to us – saves us time, helps us stay connected, entertains us, and literally saves our lives – we become more dependent on it.
The advancement of technology is as inevitable as the advancement of time. We should continue to lean on technology to help make our lives easier. But have a plan for when it doesn’t. Or as a well-known (fictional) photographer and web-slinger once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”