We make our tools and they shape us
A famous quote attributed to Marshal McLuhan’s work depicts how mankind changes with the tools or technology at their disposition. These tools can have impacts of Brobdingnagians proportions; they culturally, economically and philosophically remodel us. The invention of the wheel led man to seek out effective means of solving difficult tasks, the invention of the printing press became a prologue to the Renaissance, the use of electricity and the steam engine led us into the industrial revolution and now the technological advances of the digital age has hooked us into an online stream of incoming and outgoing data.
Effectively, mankind has been dialed into a brave new order, an order where dependency on the tools at our disposal has become ever increasing. For better or worse, the technology of the digital age is disruptive by nature, it brings quick and effective benefits at an increasing rate completely offsetting previous norms making it a constant cause of concern. Technology is indeed shaping a new kind of future, one at whose heart is Automation and its fuel is the ability of technology to do most things humans do in a cheaper and more efficient way.
But is automation a beneficial thing? By no doubt, the advancements in technology have increased the wealth in the world however not everyone has benefited from this. While the world did grow richer, the wealth only amassed amongst a select few. In 2009 the wealthiest 1% held 44% of the world’s wealth and by 2014 this amount had grown to 48%. With time this is only estimated to grow. A major factor at the heart of this issue is automation. Automation has hollowed out the demand for low skilled workers, replacing them with machines. This doesn’t stop there, improvement in technology is an ongoing process and with the realization of the potential of Artificial Intelligence and self-learning algorithms even white-collar professionals are under the threat of automation.
Improvements in technology have also raised concern elsewhere. With the entire world becoming wired online there is a great security concern about people’s identity and assets online. Cybersecurity has had to tackle the problem of having to stay a step ahead of hackers who might try to exploit online data for their own agendas. It is estimated that the global cost of cybersecurity will reach $2 trillion by 2019.
However, technology can and should not be judged based on only the bad it brings. Technology has brought mankind wonderous results in the field of medicine. It has allowed scientists to tackle problems that once seemed insurmountable. A perfect example is how HIV, once a death sentence, has been turned into a manageable disease within 30 years.
Technology also allows us to carry out sensitive medical procedures include gene therapy which can help remove genetic disorders. The advantages of technology are not just limited to medicine, technology has also made our everyday lives more convenient, it has transformed industries, improved safety standards and boosted productivity. Technology can be considered a double-edged sword, it’s not a silver bullet and its effectiveness depends entirely on how it is used. It cannot be discerned for its ability to take from man, but should also be viewed for what it has brought him.