It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
by Albert Einstein
The ambiguity of the word “humanity” in Einstein’s quote allows for the reader to interpret the phrase in a multitude of ways. For example, he could be referring to the idea of technology ridding the world of man’s benevolence, or how increasingly dependent man has become on technological innovations; in this post I will focus on the latter. When I look around today, I see just how much technology influences our lives. While Einstein’s quote connotes a rather pessimistic viewpoint of the overall impact of technology on humankind, I believe that his quote can be seen as an explanation to how technology has allowed humans to reach new heights both physically and intellectually, but also how technology has altered human nature in a negative way.
With the rise of certain technologies, mankind has been able to achieve things that the human body, alone, could not do. For example transportation has become far easier with the invention of cars, trains, planes, and boats. Most people now have personalized, immediate access to a car which travels far faster than any human could run, and with a couple hundred dollars, planes can take passengers halfway around the world in less than a day. Beyond transportation, guns allow for people to kill animals that, with their bare hands, would be physically impossible to do. Intellectually, technology has also taken mankind further. Websites such Google scholar, and Jstor hold massive amounts of information on their databases and are free for the public to use. In addition, humans have invented calculators which are able to compute numbers far quicker than the average man, and computers that can beat some of the greatest chess players in the world.
Despite these feats, technology has, at times, been humanity’s worst enemy. Although, the internet was designed to make interpersonal relationships more connected, it has ironically, made man more isolated than ever. With the invention of the smartphone, face-to-face relations have only became less and less prevalent. Walking into a room full of people, it’s not surprising to see most on their mobile devices completely ignoring the things happening around them. Walking down the street, I have been both the victim and the culprit of walking into a person or an inanimate object due to the oblivious state that smartphones are able to induce. While, the internet and smartphones allow for easy accessible connections, there is something different and irreplaceable about meeting face to face, and with technology, this type of interaction has become more rare. Of course I’m not saying that nobody interacts in person, but what I am saying is that with the simplicity and trouble free image that the phone and internet radiate, why would someone go through the hassle of meeting in person, when a simple text message can be sent while lying in bed. It seems that certain technological innovations such as the smartphone has ultimately overcomplicated the very thing that they aimed to simplify.