Technology – When is it enough?

Technology has exponentially advanced since the Industrial Revolution. Moore’s law believes that the technological advancement will expand exponentially. This has proven to be true till this point. With the development of railways in the 19th century, technology has taken a bigger and bigger part of our lives ever since. Just imagine a society without Smartphones, tablets and Laptop computers! In only 150 years, humanity is able to make the world a much smaller place than it was since the beginning of the industrial revolution. From steam train to automatic trains, landline telephones to mobile phones etc, technology has becoming the definition of life.

There is no doubt that technology has many benefits. Better equipment for medical research in the past have yield many life saving drugs and antibiotics to cure such diseases like Chicken Pox, Measles, Polio etc. In the recent years, the development of mobile medical technologies has helped doctors immensely by increasing efficiency and lowering the cost as the following article illustrates: New Life Saving Technologies For Doctor. Businesses, like Zara, which we examined in the lecture, also capitalize on the ability of technology to help sales and better fitted to the consumers’ needs with the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – handheld computers. The ability for better communication has made it easier for companies to network and explore new markets.

Even though technology has been doing good for humanity and helping businesses to make a profit, I feel there comes a point when technology will turn around and bite us. The following article by Ned Smith by BusinessNewsDaily senior writer looks at how the vast amount of data and the constant connectedness has taken a “social and financial toll” in Businesses and costing companies billions of dollars: Digital Overload Too Much Data Costs Business Billions. Technology and Automation has already taken many jobs from the blue collar workers. Now they are an increasing threat to the white collar workers as well. Without a job, it makes one impossible to survive in this world. Narrative Science is a technology that is able to write sports newspaper stories from the statistics given or write a report on a company’s financial performance.

The TV show, Battlestar Galatica, illustrates a scenario where humanity is almost driven to extinction by our own creation, the Cylons. (It is an amazing TV series and I highly recommend EVERYONE to watch it, if you have nothing to do for Easter, you’re welcome)

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The IBM ArtificiaI Intelligence, Watson combines “natural language processing, machine learning, and hypothesis generation and evaluation to give you direct, confidence-based responses.” Watson has famously beaten former Jeopardy champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings at their own game. It is essentially a computer that is capable to think! It won’t be long after we begin to integrate such technology in to the many robots, such as Baxter, that helps with many daily business and domestic operations.Image

Baxter – Cheap affordable industrial robot

Imagine a work force that is able to do what we can do yet do it in a better and more efficient fashion? It is intimidating. Let’s pray (So say we all) that when it happens, the Robots won’t betray us like how they did in Battlestar Galactica, I-Robot, and many more. Therefore, it must be said that we may need to learn to work alongside robots, as soon they will be able to out perform us in many fields.

Technology – the double edge sword. Hopefully, we will be able to stop it from hurting us (humanity).

 

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10 thoughts on “Technology – When is it enough?

  1. Thanks for the post, George! It truly is amazing what technology can do. My mom donated her kidney two years ago and had laparoscopic surgery. It was amazing how smoothly the surgery went and how they are able to save lives with highly advance technology. Besides the threat to our jobs, what other impacts will this growing rate of technology have on our society? As it was mentioned in class, I really worry about the loss of human emotion and contact. Will be constantly be “plugged in” to the point that we lose sight of our connection to each other?

    • I believe you are absolutely right about technology’s ability to de-emotionalize us. Social media is an example of a technology that has become a double edge sword. As an international student, the availability of social media makes me feel connected to all my family and friends back in Hong Kong and Australia, yet all I actually am doing is interacting with the computer, digital tablets on a virtual world that does not provide me with anything besides what appears in front of the screen. The following article by UCSB illustrates some of the concerns they have regarding how technology is decreasing the quality of human interactions.

      http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2012/01/technology-is-destroying-the-quality-of-human-interaction

  2. I completely agree with you. While I see the merits in improving technology and reap the benefits myself, it scares me. It will get the better of us and I am scared for that future. I don’t know to what extent the human race can coexist with technology when the improvements are becoming better than anything we are capable of ourselves. Technology is a danger zone to be approached with caution.

  3. I believe that the biggest threat technology has against us is the structural unemployment it is creating. Just like Andrew McAfee expressed, more jobs are being created because of technology. However, there is a clear mismatch between the supply and demands of jobs. Technology is creating jobs that required more educated people, while the jobs for those who are not educated are rapidly disappearing because of computers. The easiest tasks are those which computers can do better, without the human error. I believe that it is time for policy-makers to start thinking about how this structural unemployment can be fixed so that we can continue benefiting from technology without any remorse or fear of this double-edged sword.

  4. While I understand the need to view that technology is a bad thing, it is also very impressing what activities and jobs that can be done with technology. As you stated, a very dangerous double edged sword. My concern is with what will happen when technology completely overrides blue collar workers. How will the government deal with this issue, and will they attempt to put into place policies that will cut down on technology to allow for human employment? Is it even right for people to attempt to cut down on technology for the sake of our own jobs and lifestyles? I have also thought about whether or not this will be a moot point in the future, and whether the unknown seems scarier than what the future will actually look like. Look at The Jetsons, set in the year 2062, and how the world works at that time. Will that future be ours? Or are we just over-reacting to things that we can’t picture in our own minds.

  5. I definitely agree with you that our society’s reliance on technology is very scary. It is a double edged sword and it is very hard to tell which side is better. Should we continue to increase our technology at an exponential rate or should we be happy with what we have? I’m almost certain that our society will keep advancing technology, we as a society just can’t stop now. I agree with everyone else with their fear of these technologies de-emotionalizing us. I have already seen how cell phones and social networking has caused a decrease in actual face to face interaction and causes artificial relationships instead of real ones. I just hope that people will realize that we must only rely on technology to a certain point and be able to do things on our own.

  6. Great post. I also agree that technology has done wonders in the medical field and been a great asset for us. The difference in surgeries that take place today and ones that were done 25 years ago are astonishing. Technology helps make things run smoothly and efficiently. However, I also agree that we should limit how much we rely on technology. I’ve seen so many posts here and on twitter about all new technologies that are human like, and I think that is very scary. For example, I think the idea of a car that doesn’t need a person to drive it is scary. What happens if this technology malfunctions? We need to keep some things in the control of humans and not try to create robots that can do everything just because we have the ability to create them.

  7. Just to clarify, Moore’s Law dictates that processing power increases at an exponential rate. Human ingenuity is still required to fully realize the technological benefits available from this computing potential. We can hope that political and social systems will keep pace with future technological implementations to ensure that the dire futures depicted in certain sci-fi media do not become a reality.

  8. I agree that it’s frightening that robots are going to continue to eclipse human capabilities in numerous fields but I still think humans and humanity are going to be alright. The vast majority of jobs that robots are taking over are mundane tasks that humans don’t have a “passion” for. I think that new fields are going to open up due to this shift to robots doing numerous tasks. Furthermore these new fields could quite possibly provide higher paying jobs than the ones the robots took over. Overall if we approach this technological shift correctly, humanity will only grow stronger. Great blog and I loved how you embedded links(I might steal that).

  9. I guess I’m one of the more cautious ones when it comes to technology; even ask my roommates and friends, and they’ll say I’m afraid of microwaves. Which isn’t entirely true, but close enough. Even if robots won’t be leading companies as CEOs and marketing directors anytime soon, technology can be damaging as well as a threat to society as it exists now. For example, this blog post reminds me of a tweet I replied to this week about how eye movements could be the new way to use computers in the future. The fact that a machine could accurately determine the meaning of innate, almost primal movements, such as blinking patterns, immediately alarmed me about the direction technology could be advancing towards. It’s just a concept that hits a little too close for comfort, all for the sake of what, human “efficiency” aka laziness to move a finger across a trackpad?

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