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Slaves to technology or reaping the benefits?

How many times have you cursed under your breath – or out loud – about technology? The other day I went to download an app to my fairly old iPad and the screen popped up with a very rude message that my system no longer supported this new version of said app.

I took it personally, of course, seeing it as an affront to my own deteriorating system, i.e. my body, as well as an attack on my old device. What was so wrong with something being old for goodness sake? Old Masters are old, Brunelleschi’s Dome of the Florence Cathedral is old and so, too, is the Vatican, but no-one is daring to place them on the rubbish heap of history.

But yes, I hear you say, they are different. And there is the rub. We are slap bang in the middle of the biggest revolution mankind has faced – the technological revolution – and many of us cannot keep up, either financially or mentally, with the changes forced on us and new ones that will inexorably come.

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Perhaps the late Middle Age village weavers felt the same way when the first Spinning Jenny leapt out at them and helped to transform the world into a place of Satanic Mills, polluted air and machine-made cotton clothes, now to be worn for a day or two and thrown away on the ever-growing pile of fast fashion.

Walk along the street anywhere or sit in a classroom and observe the behaviour of people and students – heads bent, playing with their phone, checking their phone or holding their phone waiting for the magical buzz to announce they have a message.

A photographic sign at my local pool, held by a little girl, reads, ‘Watch me, not ur phone’, a damning indictment of our parental behaviours.

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Addiction is the closest word to describe this behaviour and many of us are all too easily sucked into the vortex. That is just one area of technology that has changed our behaviour.

Can we keep pace as humans with this rate of change growing exponentially year upon year? Can we predict what direction this rapid growth will take?

Futurists often paint a grim picture. We still seem to be confined to our bodily needs and to the baser sides of our nature. War, greed and the desire for power have not disappeared despite the so-called advances in technology.  

War is now being fought via satellite images, hyperlinks to satellites convey real-time footage of yet another missile exploding or drone destroying a building. Control of the internet is fought over. Hackers are attempting to control or destroy infrastructure as a means of oppression or attempting to blackmail corporations or individuals.

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Technology seems to be wielding greater control and power over people than ever. What about the more sinister uses of technology – AI facial recognition as a means of control and God knows what else yet to be invented. Where will it end?

We need discussions about the role of technology in our lives and some attempt at making sure the direction is more benign than it seems to be now.

As Albert Einstein famously said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Something to ponder.

Do you think we are slaves to technology or are advances improving our lives immeasurably? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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