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Technology: Has it Helped us, or Hurt us?

Chase Holding

February 11, 2018

Professor Fleming

STS W1

Technology: Has it Helped us, or Hurt us?

 

Human beings are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Increases in this field have made many aspects of human life simpler and more efficient. They have also created opportunities for millions of people worldwide while advancing important fields of study. Although technology has progressed our society, not all of its effects are beneficial. So, the question stands, where do we draw the line with future growth in this field, and how do we determine if the technological rule is beneficial for humanity? Continue reading

Does our technology define us?

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

by Albert Einstein

 

Humanity. We like to think that it is the trait that makes us different. Special, human. Not a precisely defined trait, as it does not need to be as it is the set of values that we have grown to appreciate in society through the ages. Technology was also always a part of human life. Ever since the invention of the wheel and basic agriculture is has helped humans prosper and live their lives as they wish to. However, alongside technology, we have changed as well. Until very recently technological development was very slow. It took thousands of years for the average person’s lifestyle to change significantly and there was time for society to adjust.  Technology developed alongside us and it was welcome. However, in recent human history, due to the mindblowing pace at which technology has been advancing, we have been left in the dust. We have no time to adapt and change our lifestyle in order to properly accommodate these changes in our lives. It is not humanity anymore which is the primary defining characteristic of humanity. It is technology, and it has taken us over. Continue reading

The Toll of Technology

Humanity is becoming ensnared in the menacing web of technology. Nearly 40% of Americans are obese, and overall fitness is rapidly declining, largely due to our increasing obsession and involvement with various forms of technology. A quote by Frank Lloyd Wright largely speaks to this idea:“If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” The “it” most certainly refers to technology.  Wright is saying that people are no longer getting sufficient exercise, physically or mentally, they are simply seeking all work, play, and anything in between from some form of technology that requires no more exertion to operate than a few swipes of a finger.

Work environments in the 21st century largely revolve around sitting at a desk, typing away at a computer, or else sitting, poking at doodads to operate machinery. Manual labor is becoming increasingly rare as technology becomes a prominent part of our lives. It would be healthier for both the planet and our physical well being to have millions of small-scale farmers working the land by hand. However, this role has been replaced by technology, with only a few employees hired to prod and twist the gizmos on the technological creations that are taking over the workforce. The result of the great influx of technology is causing jobs to be so devoid of bodily movement, that people are becoming increasingly overweight, out of shape, and physically unwell.

60 years ago there were no cell phones and entertainment, such as TV, and video games were practically unused and unavailable. Kids did not sit mindlessly on their beds, scrolling through their Facebook feed. They did not spend hours on a sunny day with their eyes glued to the television. They had no video games, no technology, no media to distract them from what they should be doing: getting outside and getting exercise. Now, sadly, the outdoors and exercise are clearly peripheral to all the new video games, iPhone upgrades, and the multitude of other technological forms of entertainment. Kids have gone from thin, tanned, healthy beings, to fat, pasty, technological slaves. These days, if you are not overweight you are in the minority. If you are tan, people would say you are bound to get skin cancer. Norms are changing, and not for the better, as our society pushes itself towards a world of technology.

Frank Lloyd Wright could mean that our “limbs” will atrophy in a less literal sense. As technology takes over many of the jobs, tasks, and even thinking humans would otherwise do, the necessity of our own intelligence lessens. It is no longer common to see students reading through dense volumes in an attempt to find information for research. Now, the student can type a few keywords into their computer and have a clear answer displayed before them in less than a second. It is effortless to type differential equations and integral problems into a computer and get out an answer, without the user needing to know the faintest thing about calculus. Furthermore, the ability of many people’s ability to write has declined with the rise of texting, something that encourages brevity and lack of creativity. If there are computers that can execute equations, and programs that can collect data for us, the need for our own thought and problem-solving diminishes. As technology becomes smarter, we become dumber, allowing it to do the thinking for us.

Technology, due to its multitude of capabilities and power has made life easier for bodies, yet the repercussions of allowing it to take over such a large part of our lives are severe, questioning whether it is really worth having technology at all.

Image result for science technology and society funny cartoons

Invention, sign of laziness or intelligence?

All of the biggest technological inventions created by man – the airplane, the automobile, the computer – says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness

-Mark Kennedy-

Having always ascribed inventions to human intelligence, I initially felt as if my belief in modern technology was challenged by this quote. However, the more I ruminate over this quote, the more I realize that in fact, it speaks of my belief, rather than rebutting it.

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Has technology exceeded our humanity?

Carter Liou

2/8/18

ST112-WA

 

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.

The Stab of Technology

“Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Technology has completely altered our world in so many ways. At first glance, technology has improved our quality of life, and essentially modernized the world. However, along with the benefits it brings, technology also has carried along many underlying consequences.

When new technologies are introduced, people tend to look at them in a very one-sided manner, seeing only the benefits but not the drawbacks they will also lead to. For example, cars, trains, and planes are frequently regarded as efficient and effective means of transportation. But what is not so often brought to mind with the thought of this type of transportation is the harmful pollution which is released by these engines.

It takes some time for the harmful effects of technology to be recognized, as people are overcome with their initial infatuation with a new invention. They focus on the perceived benefits of technology, and it is often not until serious harm has been caused that they realize the consequences. As with the example of pollution from engines, it was not until attention was brought to climate change that the problem of this type of pollution was recognized.

One aspect of technology that highlights this conflict in particular is the use of communicative technologies, such as cell phones, texting, and social media. When initially presented and introduced, people were led to believe that these technologies would only bring good things and greatly enhance people’s lives. But after being implemented, they clearly led to problems of a size that match their benefits.

Communication and human interaction have been greatly altered by these technologies. They bring the extraordinary benefits of allowing friends and relatives to communicate from opposite sides of the planet. But they also have eliminated a great portion of valuable face-to-face interaction. I have often been in situations surrounded by people, but there is little conversation because everyone is absorbed, staring intently at their iPhones. They are each in their own little world of electronic communication, to which they are drawn so intently for some mysterious reason, a reason so strong that it prevents them from living in the present moment.

Many more real life conversations occur in the absence of technology. And it is sad to see technology taking so many of these valuable opportunities away. People are afraid of missing the latest news from their “friends” on social media, but in doing so they miss so many more things going on in real life. Technology makes it much more difficult for many people to live in the present and focus on what is currently happening in their lives.

Yet we continue to develop more and more technology, never looking back at the consequences technology has led to. And every time the same things occurs: the benefits are large, but are soon followed by a multitude of drawbacks. The gifts of technology are great, but the painful stabs that follow often overcome these benefits.

 

 

We Are Not Useless

     The renowned scholar Karl Marx once declared, “The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.” However, this unsettling claim is not entirely accurate. Indeed, the rapid development of technology has changed how we progress as a society, yet the utility of human thought is constant. There exists great fear regarding the labor force being fully automated and the human mind losing its vigor due to the growing reliance on technology. These concerns, nonetheless, disregard the advantages that human thought possesses over mechanical input. Technology will not render humans useless, as Marx suggests; rather, people will continue to modify their modes of work and thought while retaining the valuable innovation that machines simply cannot achieve.

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