Sunday, August 07, 2005

Post No. 25: Master: Man or Machine?

A recent spate of articles in the newspapers has got me worried enough to write this. One such article would be the special feature on multi-tasking teenagers that featured a local teenage girl who actually brings her mobile phone into the shower to SMS her friends. Another article which got me worried would be the article that released results of a survey of local mobile phone users. According to this survey, close to 23% of the respondents admit that they would not be able to live without their mobile phones for even a single day. Also, the survey results show that mobile phone usage has significantly penetrated into several parts of people’s lifestyles such as meal-consumption and toilet-usage. In addition, another recent article reported that local teens nowadays prefer to communicate with their friends through means such as internet chats and SMSing, instead of communicating face-to-face.

Viewed separately, these articles which I have mentioned above don’t seem worrying. However, when put together, I see in these articles symptoms of a trend which people should pay attention to. This trend, which I am talking about, would be the trend of increasing dependency of people on technology. Don’t be mistaken. I am no technophobe and I’m most aware of the countless benefits that we have reaped from technological progress. The issue, however, which is worrying me is whether we are becoming too dependent on technology to such a point that instead of us being in control of technology, it is us who are being controlled by technology. Has the master-servant relationship be reversed? Have we become so obsessed with technological progress that instead seeing it as a means to greater end, we are misperceiving it as an end in itself?

To me, the answers to the questions which I have posed above would be clearly in the affirmative. My evidence for such a claim? I admit that I have no concrete evidence and all I have to support my claim would be the information revealed in the news articles I mentioned above and my own personal observations. However, though I lack concrete evidence, what I have, to me, is enough to stir up concern over our relationship with technology. From my point of view, we may have perhaps become so dependent on technology that should this technology be wiped out, we would most probably find it most difficult to carry on with our daily lives or even survive. This proposition of mine may sound absurd to some of you all but this was the very proposition that got many around the world worried, 6 years ago, amidst fears of a possible Y2K Bug. In fact, I would put forth the proposition that our dependency on technology makes a very vulnerable target of attack by terrorist groups.

Also, in my opinion, our obsession with technological progress has blinded us to the notion that technological progress should be a means of improving the human condition and not as an end in itself. Such an obsession is evident in the manner in which many of us yearn after the latest gadget and how many of us view technological progress as having more features in our mobile phones or having faster processing speed for our computers. For me, technological progress, for it to be meaningful, should be geared towards improving the human condition and/or solving the many afflicting our world today. What use is an even smaller mobile phone or an even faster computer which is implanted with artificial intelligence if it doesn’t help to alleviate the famine which Niger is currently suffering from or help to come up with a workable cure for deadly diseases such as AIDS? Don’t be mistaken. I’m not trying to advocate that we should stop trying to design smaller mobile phones or build faster computers; I’m just trying to remind you all that there should be a greater purpose to technological progress than just smaller mobile phones and faster computers.

So where am I going with all this? Of course, I recognise that it would be absurd for me to propose that we give up all the technology we enjoy today & stop striving for technological progress and revert to a technology-less lifestyle. And considering the vital part that technology plays in our lives today, it would be near impossible to give up technology even if we wanted to. So, why am I writing this if I’m aware of how inseparable technology is from our daily lives? Well, I suppose that besides trying to point out to you all that it would be no good for us to become too dependent on technology, I’m also attempting to remind you all that technology could harm us while it benefits us at the same time. However, most importantly of all, I’m trying to advocate for a more human-oriented technological progress and remind you all that technological progress shouldn’t be pursued for just for the sake of pursuing it. In conclusion, I recognise that this piece isn’t that well-written but hopefully, it has provoked some thought in you all about the direction our relationship with technology should take.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Woah.Really good writing there mate:)Good Job!

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