Embracing The Future With Technology Has technology opened a Pandora’s box of social alienation, or alternatively, is it bringing humans into a new era of prosperity and well being? I n the modern world technology is all around. Automobiles, computers, nuclear power, spacecraft, and X-ray cameras are all examples of technological advances. Technology may be defined as the process by which human beings fashion tools and machines to change, manipulate, and control their environment. The increasing pace of technological change in the 20th century makes it difficult to place recent developments into perspective. What new branches of science lay before us? Will new-age pseudo science or religious trappings keep us from opening our eyes to the facts of the world around us? Have the humanities been discarded for the complexities of electronics? Is our culture capable of embracing a technically advanced future? The most critical influence of technology in tomorrow’s society lies in the social and cultural realms.
There exists a diverse body of opinion on the possible ability of this technology to enhance democracy. One school of thought believes technology will usher in a new era of democracy, bringing about easy exchange of dialogue between different groups within society. The opposing school of thought is of a future in which this information technology will be controlled by big businesses that will provide opportunities for surveillance and domination. A recent example of the latter is the windows 2000 program that is designed to replace Windows 97. Here a user’s activity on the Internet can be readily tracked by an invisible code that enables Microsoft to sell this information to the highest bidder. People have always wondered how life originated and how so many different kinds of plants and animals arose. Stories of a supernatural creation of life developed among many peoples.
The Bible, for example, tells of God’s creation of humans and other higher animals over several days. Many people also believed that insects, worms, and other lower creatures spontaneously generated from mud and decay. Long after these stories became rooted in tradition, scientists began to question them. Science plays a major role in society. However, even nonscientists can appreciate scientific progress.
Because of science, human understanding of the past, present, and future is constantly in a state of flux. For instance, decades ago the notion of landing a spacecraft on the moon would have seemed an impossible feat. Today it is a mark of scientific progress. Because scientific inquiry never ceases to exist, events once dismissed as material for science fiction, such as landing on Mars, now seem inevitable. Science technology can be found in nearly all aspects of everyday life.
For instance, if electricity had never been discovered, electric appliances, heaters, lights, and television would not exist. Electronic components found in radios, televisions, watches, and calculators are now smaller and more reliable than before. Advances in electronics are responsible for what is called the computer age. Because of computer technology, information can be processed in seconds. Technology permits ongoing change and improvement. Once a new technique is discovered and adopted, society does not attempt to revert to the former technique. The automobile displaced the horse and buggy; the electric light replaced kerosene lamps; sound movies replaced silent films; and word processors are rapidly making typewriters obsolete.
This forward march of technology is called progress. The 20th-century skyscraper was also the product of new technology and imagination. The Sears Tower, in Chicago, and the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building, in New York City, were made possible by steel-beam construction. These new buildings were made possible by the development of new technology. Technology has resulted in hand sculpting being too expensive and hence we no longer use classic styles such as Ionic, Doric and Corinthian style columns. Is our world going to continue to blindly accept any new styles of buildings? Will our future consist of regular shaped buildings? What kinds of clothing will the future offer? Will fashion designers finally run out of new areas of the body to expose? Will computers design fashion styles in the future? Every woman with money will be beautiful thanks to plastic surgery.
What will Science Fiction be like in 2020? How will the technology of the future shape our lives? Will we live more fulfilled lives through the application of new scientific breakthroughs? Technology has made modern society possible. It has increased the human life span and allowed a healthier life. It has added to leisure time and reduced the long hours of work. Technology can allow the world to feed itself. It has reduced the effects of natural catastrophes such as famines and floods.
The world is now a smaller place where people can readily communicate with each other and travel rapidly anywhere. Technology has raised the standard of living, at least in the developed nations, to a point unimaginable only a century ago. Yet a dark side of technology persists. The threat of nuclear war is foremost, though other dangers are also frightening. The effects of dumping poisonous waste and the continued pollution of the atmosphere are but two examples.
Although 20th-century technology has created more jobs than have been lost, it still has left many individuals unemployed. The world has become smaller, but social and political institutions have not kept pace. To a certain extent, progress results in a degradation of societal standards. Clearly technological advances go hand in hand with many other complex issues. There are many questions to be asked but we can only ponder an outcome. However, if handled ethically there is an overwhelming potential for technology to enrich our lives.
Computers and Internet.