It is an irrefutable fact that science and technology are crucial aspects of our lives today. Human lives have always been influenced by technology and technological achievements, but unlike some earlier historical phases, where the liaison was less emphasized, we can freely state that our lives would be unimaginable without technology today.
So much of what we do relies and depends on technology – heck, even this article would not be possible without technology – which is why we have decided to analyze what technology is for you to know. Alongside that, we are going to bring you a list of 10 advantages and disadvantages of modern technology.
What Is Technology, Anyway?
Well, first of all, technology is a Greek word that literally means “science of craft”. It is a portmanteau of the word τέχνη (Greek: techne), which means “art, skill, the cunning of hand” and the suffix -λογία (Greek: –logia), which is a common Greek suffix. The term has gone through a lot of changes in usage; before the 20th century, it was very uncommon in the English language and was actually used to describe the study of useful crafts, which tells you how restricted its usage was.
But, after the Second Industrial Revolution, at the beginning of the 20th century, the usage of the term exploded and it started to evolve to reach its current definition in the English language.
Technology can thus be defined as the sum of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of different objectives, such as scientific investigation, everyday usage, etc. It can also be defined as the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the likes, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings.
Systems (e.g. machines) applying technology by taking an input, changing it according to the system’s use, and then producing an outcome are referred to as technology systems or technological systems. As you can see, the definition of technology is very broad today and it encompasses a variety of different aspects.
The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools, as was seen in the history of mankind. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic “technological” Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment.
Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. Here we can see that technology started off as being very simple and gradually developed to what we have and use today.
Technology has many effects on our daily lives. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today’s global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure social class, as a lot of technology is used for entertainment and leisure purposes. Still, technology also has some unwanted side-effects.
Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the destruction of Earth’s environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions in the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity and the challenges of bioethics.
The Advantages of Technology
Now that we have defined technology and seen – roughly at least – what it represents and how the definition changed over time, let us see a list of some of the positive aspects of technology in human lives:
1. Technology Eases Access to Information
In the old days, people would have to go to a library (or somewhere they had books) to access some knowledge. This would not have been a problem if every town had its own library, but that was not the case. Books were the primary source of knowledge and because of the power information have, books were not widely available and easily accessible.
With the development of technology, you can easily access a variety of information from the comfort of your own home. Thanks to the Internet, you’re connected with the whole world and a lot of information is practically always at your disposal.
2. Technology Saves Time
A lot of things are quicker thanks to technology. Communication, printing, daily chores, production, access to information – these are just some of the things that benefited from the speed that came with technology. In the early days, people had to travel for days or weeks to a place we can now reach in several hours. Distant places only received mail once a week, while today – using emails – you can communicate with anyone very quickly.
Remember your History lessons on how long it took for people to copy books in the early days? Now we have printing presses that print thousands, even millions of copies in just one night. And these are just some of the more notable examples. Technology truly did speed up a lot of things and it helped the development of the modern age.
This aspect relates to transport. Namely, the technological advancements made in transport and vehicles allowed us not just to travel faster, but also to travel to locations previously unavailable to us. Had we not invented the boat we would never have traveled to the South Pole. Had we not invented space shuttles we would not have traveled to outer space. So, technology did not only make us quicker but also more mobile as it allowed us to see what we could not see before all these developments.
4. Technology Improves and Invents New Ways of Communication
Technology did not just improve communication, it completely changed it. In the initial stages, people communicated solely by using verbal or non-verbal communication. Later on, we used written forms of communication, but before the technological area – messages were sent either via messengers or via the postal service (which is also relatively new), which was very slow.
With all the technological developments – the telegraph, the telephone, the Internet – we’ve managed to redefine our perception of communication and develop new styles of communication with our friends and family, wherever they might be.
5. Innovation and Improvement
Technology is something of a chain reaction. One thing necessarily leads to another and a lot of minor discoveries and inventions were later combined and utilized in a much bigger setting. This is why technology is so breathtakingly innovative because it stimulates creation on each step. And certainly, the competition to develop something new also leads to the improvement of what we already have. In that aspect, it is understandable how technology is beneficial for us and our society and how it stimulates both constant innovation and improvement.
6. Education and Knowledge
Thanks to technology, we have managed to increase our overall knowledge of the universe and things around us. And although our knowledge is still limited and doesn’t answer all our questions, thanks to all the technological advancements, we have managed to know and understand a lot more than we did just half a century ago (imagine how big the difference it is when we compare it to centuries and/or millennia!). Of course, all that garnered knowledge has been used in the educational process and has helped to improve our educational systems, both theoretically and practically.
7. Artificial intelligence
The advances in modern technology have enabled the development of artificial intelligence, which has become an essential part of a number of elements of modern technological life. Although SF-writers have anticipated artificial long before it actually came to be, a lot of aspects of modern life could not be possible without artificial intelligence. Be it something small and simple – like Siri’s suggestions on your phone – or something larger – like robots – artificial intelligence is very important and essential to our understanding of modern life. Although we’re not always aware of it, artificial intelligence is present around us, usually a lot more than we think it is.
The development of technology has improved our understanding and organization of databases. Primitive examples are present in history, but it was not until modern technology enabled the development of computer systems and servers that real, large, and easily accessible databases came to be. Modern databases can store a lot of different data, they can be easily organized and can be accessible to a large number of people with permission to access them. This is connected to points one and six, as mentioned above.
9. Medicine and health
Remember how people used to treat diseases by letting out blood and using leeches? Or giving very suspicious herbs? If you’re reading this, you probably don’t, which is a good thing and a very important sign of technological development. Technology has developed our understanding of the human body and it has enabled medicine to understand some processes better. This was utilized in the creation of vaccines and medications, but also forms of treatment that have saved millions of lives around the world. Technology has, thus, not only saved us, but it has drastically increased our life expectancy and some people even think it could increase it even further so kudos to that!
One good thing about technology is that it is available to most, if not all. People can access different types of technology every day and that is certainly a good thing, because of all the other benefits technology has. But it is not just that – technology has made some things more available than before and that is also a very important benefit!
Thanks to technology, all the things mentioned above are available to you, including this article, so we can definitely conclude that technology has done so much for us that it has become essential.
The Disadvantages of Technology
But, as it often goes with all things in life, technology is not only beneficial for us – it also has its downsides. This is a list of some of the most important disadvantages of technology today:
Remember the dystopian novels written by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell? All these novels discussed a futuristic society where people are under complete control by the state. Although I, personally, don’t like Huxley that much, Zamyatin and Orwell were prophetic geniuses whose visions of dystopia still haunt the minds of millions.
Their states were ruthless in their control and the surveillance of the people, but you have to remember that these novels were written in a period when the technology was not advanced as it is today and when there were far fewer possibilities of surveillance and control than there are now.
Modern technology has advanced so much that there are countless ways to oversee people, their actions, their movements, and – to a degree – even control their lives. Some of them are well-known, some are more obscure, but be they what they are – they are present.
This is a very negative side-effect of technological development and it can potentially have devastating consequences for our society, if not controlled properly.
This is a very sociopsychological side-effect of technology and is certainly the result of our own decisions. Certainly, technology has made our lives better and faster, but we have also become dependent on it, which is never a good thing; some people have even become addicted to it.
By relying on technology, we must not forget who we are, i.e., that we are humans who need social contact and should not depend (or become addicted) to technology because technology is rarely the solution for real-life issues.
This is closely related to the issue presented in point two. Namely, as we direct ourselves towards technology and away from the people in our lives, we may close ourselves out and instead of socializing, actually do the opposite.
Technology can do a lot to connect people and it can help form and strengthen friendships and different relationships, but it can also alienate us from our friends and society. Desocialization can become a serious issue and is something that needs to be avoided because it is unnatural to us as humans.
4. Reduction of Labour
Technological advances have not only enabled the automatization of production, but also the use of robots in production. Labour previously done by humans has now been given to robots, who do it equally as efficient and they actually cost a lot less than paying a person each month.
This is, of course, not applicable to all fields, but in those that it is – it has drastically reduced the potential and cost of human labor. People have become unnecessary and that is not just a question of labor, but a consequence that can emanate onto so many parts of people’s lives and that is never a good thing.
5. Dangerous Inventions
While most technological innovations have been put to good use, there are some that have not. As the reverse side of a medal, technological innovations can be destructive, as well as constructive. It is a technology that has brought us guns, missiles, tanks, atomic bombs, and other nuclear weapons, which is a clear sign that it can be very dangerous.
Although some of these inventions can be used in a good context (e.g. to save someone’s life), they are essentially violent and destructive, which is why it is important to reduce their number, if not to eliminate them fully.
People are very curious by nature and they tend to experiment with stuff and… sadly, with humans and animals, too. Other living beings have been subjects of experiments for ages, as technological advancements needed some knowledge.
Most of these experiments were used for good and did not do much harm, but the fact is that some of them have. We all know what the infamous Nazi physician, Josef Mengele, did to his victims during the Third Reich, but he is – sadly – not the only example of such methods. Human curiosity is a good thing, but like with all things, one must know the right measure for it to function.
7. Health Issues
There are a lot of health issues associated with technology, especially computer technology. They are, in a majority of cases, not fatal, but can be a real nuisance. Your eyesight can worsen, bright lights in films and TV shows can lead to epileptic seizures, handling dangerous machinery can cause severe harm, etc., but most of these problems, however, grave they might be, can be easily resolved and avoided when properly handling a device. The key, as with point six, lies in the measure of things.
Privacy is very important, even vital to some people. In a world with less developed technology, people had more privacy because there was no system to oversee them and categorize the necessary data. In today’s world, full of servers, networks, and databases, a world where people leave a digital trace each time they type something online – privacy is seriously endangered.
People are being spied on and they constantly risk exposing their privacy. Somethings might go unnoticed, but there are very malicious people out there that might threaten you and cause you a lot of trouble because they know how to exploit your private data.
The development of modern technology has also created a completely new form of crime – cybercrime. Cybercrime is a crime connected with computer networks. It can take different forms, most of which are cyber forms of known crimes such as fraud, theft, and identity theft. Cybercrime is a growing phenomenon and is endangering the data and money of people around the world.
Cybercrime can even take the form of cyberterrorism, which is a serious threat to people around the world. To summarise, cybercrime is a growing and dangerous phenomenon, and without a doubt one of the biggest disadvantages that came without technological development.
10. Educational Side-Effects
Interestingly enough, although technology has done a lot to improve our lives and our educational systems, it can also have some negative effects on the educational process. Namely, because technology gives us such an ease of access to different information, students might feel as if they don’t need to make an effort and actually learn something because they can easily check things out.
And if you thought that this concerns only theoretical subjects, even practical ones have the same problems, as there are equation solving applications, video guides on how to make or draw something, etc., and all of that can demotivate the student in the educational process. He might feel as if he does not need to make an effort because everything is so easily available and ready to use, which is where the teacher must intervene and do the motivating himself.
Technology is not just important; it is vital for us. Modern life would not be possible, it would not even be possible to imagine it without technology. We have grown so dependent on technology that our daily routines are – in a lot of ways – focused on using it in every possible way.
The good thing is that technology has a lot of benefits – some of them are mentioned in the preceding paragraphs – and we can use all those benefits to our advantage and enjoy the full potential of technology. Most things people do today would not be possible without it which is why it is good that it’s there.
Still, technology can also be very dangerous and can influence our lives in a negative way. Some of the ways it can do that have been mentioned in this text, but these are just some of the possible ways. It is important to know how to use technology and not allow people to use it in the wrong ways.
Technology is mostly beneficial, but it can also be very dangerous, which is why it is important to know how to use it and how to avoid abusing it.
This covers our analysis of the topic for today. For more information, keep following us and stay tuned for more of the same.