“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
Martin Luther King, From Strength to Love
Human beings have always been thought of as the most intelligent beings on the planet capable of converting dreams into reality. The innate habit of inquisitiveness present in the youth enables them to achieve seemingly impossible horizons. Technological advancement is one of the significant testimonies of human zeal. The present situation is such that it is practically impossible to survive a day without Technology coming into the picture. Technology has occupied a predominant stature in the current human lifestyle. And sometimes it makes us wonder about the validity and the impact of the apparent predicament that technology is offering in the form of appealing objects in our day-to-day lives. Accepting the irreplaceable role that technology has to play, not just today but for days to come, in addressing problems, it is imperative to find inexplicit opinions over the impact of technological progress on the cognitive and creative abilities of man.
Technical evolution is a clear evidence of the fact that human intelligence is attaining soaring heights of success than ever before. And what can be a better way to express an achievement than appreciating the contribution that led to it coming into being. Regardless of the long-term outcomes, any technological advancement brings with it an immediate occasion of joy and celebration and sometimes an inner fulfillment that everyone is craving for. But the situation doesn’t end here. Just like every coin has two sides, scientific innovation is not bereft of such an ugly setting. And such a setting is relative in nature. For some, it serves as a great boon and for others useless or in fact adverse. The reason behind such a wide range of perspective and views lies in the way technology is implemented in daily life.
Let us consider diverse perceptions using instances from the history which will make it easier to come to a possible conclusion.
Perspective 1: Reliance on technology is never detrimental:
- Progress, application and utilization of skills can never be possible without real problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. So, technology serves as an aid to make the process of problem-solving and thinking even easier by saving time in executing simple applications and calculations and allowing us to engage in complex problem-solving tasks.
- Technology brought about globalization and connected different people all over the world in a manner that has made exchange of ideas and information more convenient.
- Every application and innovation in technology is driven by human intelligence and out-of-the-box thinking capacity.
- Technology has brought the world to our doorsteps where information regarding any global event is just a click away thus keeping us posted and enhancing our decision-making skills.
Professors tend to be resting upon technology in order to cultivate and nurture creativity in the classroom —using Youtube videos, pod casts, social and digital media platforms to discuss important issues. This creative use of technology is a sure way to get students’ neurons firing. It encourages students to actively participate in the learning process and adds value to the same beyond just learning but enjoying too. The hope is that by utilizing social technologies, educators can impart skills that will “futureproof” their students against the hazardous risks that have befallen the previous generations. Students of this era won’t just stumble into college life and the corporate world after high school without any knowledge or exposure but to some extent may be expected to be equipped with better technical and decision-making skills. They will already be masters.
The invention of the wheel is a primitive instance. There has never been an instance where human reliance on the wheel has proven to be detrimental or ever resulted in cognitive recession in humans. Instead, there have impressive developments in the field of transportation and automation, thanks to excessive use of the innovation. In fact, it is clear that reliance on technology not necessarily hinders creativity, an archetype of human species.
Perspective 2: Reliance on technology is actually detrimental:
“Earth has enough for everybody’s need but not for a man’s greed.” -Gandhiji
People feel no shame to shape the statement into reality again and again.
Mere reliance on technology can never be harmful in its natural form. It is our use only that decides whether technology is a boon or a bane.
The aforementioned statement can have multiple interpretations. Excessive and reckless use of technology in day to day lives makes us sufficiently lazy only to become somewhat slaves to common technology and gadgets. This also makes our standard of living poorer and deplorable. It is nothing more than a bad bargain.
Imagine a student who has access to a scientific calculator from his childhood for his calculations and another student who uses a pen, paper and his intelligence to work out the same arithmetic. There will be a significant difference in the thinking and analytical ability in both of them. And consequences will be more severe in testing situations where students need to write exams without the use of calculators – which actually is the case in every high school exam. In this case, access to technology has made the student lazy and retarded concerning mathematical calculations.
Similarly, one can track myriad instances where boundless engagement with technology has actually proven the other way round. Consider the advent of CAD and Modeling software for Engineering and Machine drawing. Everything is done by click and drag of a mouse in the GUI interface. Students hardly find any interest to learn the fundamental skills of drawing using geometrical tools on paper and the consequences are that students are losing their imaginative power.
Now that we have cited contrasting opinions on the topic, let us sit back and take a close look at the prevalent scenario. What has been presented till now is nothing more than what a layman sees or thinks about Technology. But the reality is even more prolific and different realms and dimensions to it need to be analyzed with the help of liable authentic source of knowledge.
On a different note, defense is the sector where all nations invest a major portion of their prospering technology and finances, and not to alleviate grievances of their poverty-stricken citizens. Technology offers luxuries to a few, but it deprives millions of their necessities in the process. It heals in retail and kills in wholesale.
“Technology … the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” – Max Frisch, Homo Faber.
It is the expertise of technology to refrain us from experiencing the realities of the world.
Often the advocates of technology argue that the misuse of technology is to be castigated, not technology itself. They compare technology with a knife; in the hand of a murderer it kills, but in the hand of a surgeon, it cures. Similarly, the argument goes, technology cannot be held accountable if nonconformists strike terror of deadly nuclear weapons.
The analogy is good, but does it apply to technology? Technology does not just create machines. It also creates the global perspectives of the users of those machines.
Laptops and tablets have replaced books.
Video games have replaced physical sports.
Emails and social media sites have long replaced the postal media.
Online platforms are replacing classroom education.
Virtual space is replacing social interaction.
And much more…
In a world revolving around technology, plenty of gadgets and devices provide recreation and entertainment. As a result, a worldview, that technology can bestow upon us the means to enjoy anything and everything, is developed, consciously or unconsciously. Tech savvy life, being secular and popular, drifts us away from exploring larger aspects of life. Losing touch with the spiritual side of life, people get swayed by the immediate and innumerable comforts provided by technology and tend to believe that it would cater to all their desires and happiness. This world has limited resources and dwellers of the world have bountiful desires therefore, frustration due this insatiable appetite for avarice is inevitable.
Technology is used far and wide to fulfill selfish objectives of some than for general welfare of the society. The technological worldview makes people spiritually retarded and materially bizarre. When people – whether they be scandalized politicians, diplomatic profit mongers or astute businessman– are given technology, what are the chances of them not misusing it for gradual or sudden destruction if it suits theirs interests?
Thus technological self-reliance and leadership plays a very important role in the current world trends and should be used with wisdom and discretion on ethical, environmental and cultural lines so as to bring about a better and sustainable tomorrow.
Published by Sumana Saha