The age of technology has descended upon us. Today in the modern world, it is near impossible to resist the continuous developments of digitized living. However, this prompts the question: does technology rely on us, or do we rely on technology?
We have undoubtedly adapted to the modern standards of first world living. The influence of technology can be seen everywhere around us, from the prevalence of personal computers and mobile devices to the state of the art technological advances in public amenities such as hospitals and schools. Wherever we go, the digital world follows our every step.
To some extent, one can easily argue that technology relies on us. Every digital implementation, while potentially able to process information faster than humans can – such as memory work and instantaneous calculations – is at our beck and call. Computers work at our demand, given life by the commands we issue. Every technological invention was created to be subject to a human user, with various studies focusing on user design and user experience to improve the way users are able to interact with digital creations.
Think about how every digital invention came about. We found places we were lacking in, where our brains could not work like computers, and devised an object to perform those tasks for us. Today, technology is used in extremely varied fields – in agriculture, research, craftwork, production plants, and more. Technology has even replaced some jobs that were previously occupied by human workers, and at the same time creating new job opportunities that had not existed before.
Though technology may be powerful, we often even get frustrated at our devices being unable to understand what we will them to do. Despite technology being able to perform most tasks more efficiently than humans, the human brain is still far more complex than any number of computers put together. We can process intangible concepts such as emotion, sympathy, sarcasm and the slightest nuance in language, which no computer can come close to understanding today. With these, we create our own goals and objectives, using computers as mere tools to aid us in achieving our desired end results.
A piece of machinery without human operators to put it to work would not be serving its purpose, as without the goals and visions of human operators, devices would not be able to work of their own will, nor would they wish to anyway – technology functions for the purposes of humans. In this way, one can say that technology was created by humans and for humans, thus relying on humans to serve their purpose.
Despite these machines working for us, is it possible that we might actually be reliant on technology, instead of the other way around?
In recent years, while humans have grown used to the convenience of having technology everywhere, we have perhaps also been dependent on them for various daily needs. Many jobs now require the assistance of technological devices, such as teaching, medicine and manufacturing. Even when going on a simple everyday task such as picking up the groceries, we inevitably run into technology, from travelling to the store to using the automated check-outs. Other urban places are quickly adapting to the use of technology. For instance, many schools now make use of technology-assisted learning and allocate certain dates for the students to engage in e-Learning. Other educational institutes have even introduced the use of laptops or personal tablets into the classroom on a daily basis.
Consider a day in first world living without any technology whatsoever. Elevators would not work, nor would cars or transportation systems. How many daily appliances have been assimilated into our lives without our knowing? Do we realize the extent of how much technology we really use?
As beings suited to living in the modern century, can we carry out daily living without the aid of technology entirely? Some may argue that they can adapt to whichever situation they find themselves in. No doubt some people are not as dependent on technology as others. Some do not feel the direct reliance on their computers and mobile devices, while others feel a restless itch if they were to be separated from these devices for even a short while. However, regardless of whether we feel that reliance or not, would we all be able to carry out our daily tasks with the same amount of efficiency that technology brings us?
Indeed, many corporations rely on technology to perform as effectively as they do nowadays. Devices have taken over numerous types of jobs, such as reception jobs, assistants’ work, and, in the future, perhaps even driving, with driverless cars on the horizon. Technology does not tire and performs with mechanical precision, unlike us humans ever could. Employers no longer have to deal with their workers getting sloppy, being discontented with their job scope, or calling in for “sick days”.
Today, the resources we use daily such as water, electricity and food reach us by means of technology. Were it not for the aid of machines, these would not be able to be supplied to so many people worldwide for 24 hours a day. As such, do we not, in some way or other, rely on these machines on an everyday basis whether directly or indirectly?
Although the idea of artificial intelligence controlling the world is only science fiction thus far, computers could already well be controlling our thoughts and perception of the world. A huge part of this can be attributed to computer algorithms designed to deliver a personalized experience. When we surf websites or browse media online, information about us and the content we view is stored and used to recommend “suggested” content for future visits. Over time, the system tailors the content we see to fit our preferences and demographics, building up a personal bubble in the Internet that boxes each user into their comfort zone. Due to this, we typically end up hardly venturing outside of these boxes to get a balanced view of any information we attempt to discover online.
At the same time, some people embrace this fact. Why bother coming up with these algorithms to tailor personalized content? Well, at the root of it, we are comforted by familiarity and routine. When digital systems recommend us related content, we are more likely to view that content than actively search for it ourselves. Without the digital world taking the wheel and controlling what we see, would we be as used to navigating the depths of the World Wide Web out there? Would we know as much as we do now?
In the end, while it can be said that technology exists for our use, it is also arguable that technology has a strong influence over our lives. The scale may be on a precarious point, but we are ultimately in control of how much we allow either side to tip over. How do you think we can strike a good balance?
Nov 12, 2019